Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LA Times: Op-Ed...Should Schools Be Blown Up?

Should schools be blown up?

LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer on English reclassification, payroll problems and failing schools.
November 21, 2007

Admiral David Brewer, superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, dropped by the editorial board the other day to discuss, among other things, the problems of English-language learners and his own on-again-off-again plan to create a mini-district for low-performing schools. Some highlights:

English language learners

David Brewer: We have the largest English-language learner population in the nation, over 200-some-odd thousand students. If we were to carve them out as a separate district, they would be the sixth-largest district in the nation. That population right there is the most challenged population. And there's an irony with that population; 70% of them are native born. And so we said, OK, so what's driving this low achievement throughout the system? Well, the standard English learners, a percentage of whom are also African Americans, are also in this mix. So when we began to look at it we said, my God, if, if you look at one of the pieces, called Reclassification to Fluent English Proficiency, and we're reclassifying about 50% of that population K through 5. That means 50% of that population's showing up in middle school not prepared, frankly speaking, for middle school, because of language. And so we said, OK, then we have to go to a family-of-schools approach.

Now you've heard all the UTLA rumblings. If a separate district was the answer, let them run it, was my position. But when I went and presented to the task force our findings, UTLA came back and said — you know, they were clearly opposed to a separate district. When I look back at [former superintendent Ruben] Zacharias, people were opposed to his hundred schools, because of the labeling, of the stigmatism. And my counter to that has been quite clear. I think that in L.A. the general public, other than through the 1381 debate, you know, really does not know how well or how badly the schools are doing. I don't think they really know. I don't think they're really focused on it.

Read entire story here:,0,7180339.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NAACP Celebrating 71 Years of Youth Leadership and Activism: Saturday, November 10th

NAACP partners with UCLA student groups to increase diversity through a College Access Campaign

  • FIRST AME CHURCH (2270 South Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles)
  • Saturday, November 10, 2007
  • 1:30-4:30pm
The Los Angeles National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is sponsoring College Access Day, 2007.

Students from outreach programs at UCLA will conduct the workshops giving each student personalized attention. College students will educate high school students on the college process and ways to succeed once admitted.

In addition, parents can attend a workshop on "How to Finance Your Child's Education" presented by UCLA Financial Aid Office and Thompson Wealth Management (TWM).

The Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP led by President Geraldine Washington was at the forefront of the campaign to address the low admittance rate of African American students at UCLA. College enrollment and graduation rates among African-American students continue to lag behind the population at large. To mitigate this trend the NAACP and the UCLA student groups are making a special plea calling for parents, high school counselors, teachers, churches and businesses to encourage student participation and support this worthwhile cause.

D'Artagnan Scorza UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences, Ph.D. Student, UC Student Regent-Designate and NAACP Campaign Coordinator states "Education is the great equalizer and has been historically linked to our struggle for freedom. We must do everything we can to ensure access and equity for all of our students in our community"

We need and appreciate your financial support. Please help our students as they reach out and make a difference through education. No amount is too big or too small. Funds will be used for refreshments, instructional materials, printing and transportation. Write your tax-deductible check today and mail to the following address:

NAACP Inglewood/South Bay Branch
P.O. Box 8162
Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone: (310) 671-3174
The following student groups will participate:

African Student Union's Academic Supports Program (ASP):

  • The African Student Union's Academic Supports Program (ASP) is a student-initiated and student-run retention program that historically formed to address the attrition rates for students of African descent. Many African students expressed common concerns such as alienation from the campus, frustration from racism and discrimination, hostility from the campus environment, a lack of motivation to succeed and an uncertainty of goals. The ASP assists students with their academic development which is necessary to achieve graduation. Furthermore, they can gain leadership and other important skills which can be useful in their academic and professional careers.
UCLA students, under the Student Initiated Access Committee (SIAC), work with students in grades K–14 in educationally disadvantaged areas.

  • UCLA students from SIAC projects provide weekly, ongoing services, including one-on-one peer advising, tutoring, skills-building and workshops.
    They also provide field trips, and parent dinners and workshops.
    Their projects also join with various student organizations to host large-scale events promoting college, most of which take place annually.
Student Heightening Academic Performance through Education (SHAPE):

  • SHAPE was created by the African Student Union to counteract the repercussions of the removal of Affirmative Action programs in institutions of higher education, which resulted in the decline in admissions of underrepresented students. SHAPE was designed to target those youth at risk at the Middle and High School level by providing peer advising, tutoring, workshops, fieldtrips, and parent support. SHAPE goes out to the Inglewood, Crenshaw and Watts areas, as well as out to Audubon Middle School and Dorsey High School.

The Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College Scholars, known as VIPS, is a partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles and Pasadena school districts to help prepare historically underrepresented students in grades 9–12 to become competitively eligible for admission to UCLA and to encourage pursuit of graduate and professional education.

  • VIPS is focused on underserved students, including students from low-income and first-generation immigrant families, which includes underrepresented minorities.
    VIPS services include college preparatory workshops, a Buddy Day (high school students shadow UCLA students for a day), college advising, and career and major seminars.

The UCLA Center for Community College Partnerships (CCCP) develops and strengthens academic partnerships between UCLA and California community colleges, particularly those with large underrepresented student populations. The center works to help the community colleges develop a "transfer culture."

  • The center works closely with community college administrators, faculty and staff to strengthen and diversify curriculum, create strong academic support programs, improve students' academic competitiveness for admission to the university and increase the diversity of UCLA's transfer-admit pool.

  • Among the center's programs is the East Los Angeles College Summer Immersion Program, a collaboration between the Youth Opportunity Movement, East Los Angeles College and UCLA. This intense 16-day academic program requires participants to complete successfully a three-unit UC/CSU-transferable course in a two-week period.

The Afro-Academic, Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) is a major youth initiative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). founded in 1978, by the renowned author and journalist, Vernon Jarrett, ACT-SO provides a forum through which minority youth can demonstrate the same prowess, expertise and recognition often only reserved for entertainers and athletes. Rooted in the firm conviction that minorities can succeed and compete at the same or superior levels as their counterparts in classrooms, boardrooms and locker rooms across this nation and abroad.

  • The ACT-SO objective is to prepare, promote and recognize youth who exemplify scholastic and cultural excellence. ACT-SO conducts annual academic competitions for students in grades 9-12 NAACP branches throughout the country. Participating branches hold local competitions in 24 categories. The top winners from other cities at the national ACT-SO finals during the NAACP national convention.
The ACT-SO goals are:

  1. To mobilize the adult community for the promotion of classroom and after-school excellence.

  2. To recognize academic achievement among youth on par with the recognition awarded athletics.

  3. To provide and assist students with the necessary skills and tools to establish goals and acquire the confidence and training to make a successful contribution to society.
For more information contact...

  1. Michael Gallin, UC Regent Student Field Representative at (310) 206-4416 or by fax at (310) 206-6067

  2. Marilynn Huff at (310) 672-7939 or email:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Parent Information Meeting @ WHS: TONIGHT @ 6.30pm

We strongly encourage all PARENTS of students attending Westchester area schools to participate. (Another Parent Information Meeting will be held next Wednesday, November 14th at 6.30pm at Orville Wright in the event you can't make this Wednesday's meeting.)

Representatives from LMU and LAUSD will be prepared to field your questions and concerns regarding:

Autonomy &
the I-Division (Innovation Division)

Be sure to formulate your questions and concerns NOW; write them on a note pad and be prepared to seek answers to them. In addition to a parent's main area of concern like...How does autonomy guarantee and/or ensure my student-child obtains a first-rate education in a safe and clean environment?...some sample questions may include the following, but feel free to ask any question.

  1. Governance. Who will make up the governing body?

  2. Who are the players and what role will each play?

  3. Where do Parents fit into the equation?

  4. Where does Community fit into the equation?

  5. Should the Parents, Stakeholders etc. vote in favor of autonomy, when will implementation occur? Target date?

  6. Are there any lessons learned to-date that Westchester can benefit from?

  7. Are there models that closely resemble the plans for Westchester area schools? (Something in LAUSD; no out-of-state models, please.)

  8. How can we view the models, i.e., school tour, datasets --What tangible results can we view...API scores, graduation rates, college acceptance rates?

  9. What are the promises and perhaps perils that an autonomous structure might have on my student-child specifically?

  10. What are the short-term goals and benefits of autonomy?

  11. What are the long-term goals and benefits of autonomy?

  12. Will students become displaced, i.e., over the short-term and long-term? What measures, if any, are in place to ensure displacement doesn't occur?
Again, these are just some questions that come to mind. Think methodically and ask any questions that come to your mind, or ask for clarification on anything that might be ambiguous or unclear to you.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

CAHSEE TESTING: November 6th and 7th

All 11th and 12th graders will be administered the CAHSEE -- CA High School Exit Exam over the course of Tuesday, 11/6 and Wednesday, 11/7.

This is a prerequisite for graduation.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Various News Articles on Brewer's and Villaraigosa's Reform Efforts

DAILY NEWS: School reform facing hurdles
Read entire article here:

Just two weeks after announcing an ambitious effort to reform Los Angeles Unified middle schools, Superintendent David Brewer III finds his plan already foundering amid fierce opposition from the politically powerful teachers union.

Brewer, who proposed creating a special district of 44 low-performing schools, already has had to eliminate 10 of the sites and still faces opposition from teachers over the remaining schools. Only one San Fernando Valley school remains on the list.

And new rumblings have surfaced that union leaders and teachers in the proposed schools intend to kill the plan entirely.


LA TIMES: Idea for failing schools fails to please educators
Read entire article here:,1,5272754.story?coll=la-headlines-california

The L.A. Unified chief says his plan to group lagging campuses into a district is now 'only an option.' Among the many complaints from critics is that his proposal would stigmatize such schools.

Faced with stiff opposition from the teachers union and little support elsewhere, Los Angeles schools Supt. David L. Brewer has backed away from his plan to put nearly four dozen poorly performing schools into a separate "transformation district."

The superintendent's retreat comes only about four weeks after he unveiled the plan, which was widely viewed as an answer to critics who said the retired Navy admiral had accomplished too little in the year since accepting the top job at the Los Angeles Unified School District.


DAILY NEWS: LAUSD drops five of six Valley schools from reform list
Read entire article here:

Just a single San Fernando Valley school is in the running to participate in two key reform efforts widely touted by the mayor and schools chief as a key to boosting performance at Los Angeles Unified.

Superintendent David Brewer III said Thursday that he has cut five of the six Valley schools named in his original reform effort targeting 44 low-performing sites.

Sigifredo Lopez - president of the Parent Community Coalition, which represents 1,800 parents in the Valley and the rest of the district - said parents don't trust the mayor or Brewer.

"Reforms are coming out, but parents are saying nothing makes education better for children and brings more parent participation - that these reforms are political," he said.


THE EDUCATION REVOLUTION BLOG: Brewer Reform: Dead in the Water?
Read more blog entries here:

Teacher Autonomy Meeting: TODAY @ 3PM

Teacher Autonomy Meeting at WHS today at 3pm.

WHS Library

This is not a teacher exclusive event -- Parents are welcome to attend also!

Hope to see many of you today.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Thursday, November 1, 2007


Join the Academic Booster Club, Teachers, Administrators, other Faculty and Parents in recognizing our...

"Academic Student-Achievers"