FROM Bill Ring
LAUSD and Teachers' Union Form Tentative Agreement School Superintendent John Deasy told the elected school board last night that he's decentralizing the LAUSD. He's made a deal with Warren Fletcher, newly elected president of the teachers' union, to let local schools hire teachers, choose teaching materials and set schedules. These are powers the Union has wanted for years, and Fletcher had to make some concessions. The deal isn't final until UTLA members approve. Also, in a follow up to last night's WWLA?, the Santa Monica-Malibu School Board last night changed private fundraising rules. By a vote of 6 to nothing, with one abstention, it ruled that PTA's of individual schools will no longer be allowed to pay the salaries of extra teaching staff. The goal is to avoid inequities between rich and poor schools. The district-wide Education Foundation will get that responsibility sometime in the next three years. The City of Malibu has voted to consider forming its own, separate district.
The State of LA's Public Schools President Obama's Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, told a recent labor-management conference that, in these very tough economic times, school districts and teachers' unions can solve problems best by working together. In Los Angeles, that idea may be facing a major test. Late last month, LA Unified, the state and the ACLU settled a lawsuit by agreeing that when layoffs are required 45 of the district's lowest-performing schools will not be subject to the rule that the most recently hired teachers must be the first to go.
Re-evaluating LA Schools Using the 'Value-Added' Method The Los Angeles Times has been reporting on what's called " value added " analysis of standardized test scores. Last week, the paper revealed that LA Unified had information that could help evaluate individual teachers, but wasn't using it, partly because of objection from the teachers' union. The United Teachers of Los Angeles, or UTLA is holding its annual meeting in Indio, and President A.J. Duffy has accepted this district's offer to reopen negotiations over teacher evaluations.
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.
Parents, Teachers Prepare for Another Round of School Cuts The State Senate is about to hold hearings on restructuring government to make it more efficient. In the meantime, service providers and school administrators are “transforming” their operations, to use Governor Schwarzenegger's phrase . That means cutting so deeply that core missions are being compromised. Such budget cuts and teacher lay-offs are leading to hunger strikes and camp-ins at LA Unified schools. Parents have new powers to make tough decisions but no training for a difficult and sensitive job. What’s happening at charter schools? We hear how students, parents and teachers are trying to cope with a changing educational environment.
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
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.