Friday, July 24, 2015

Big Education Ape: DIANE RAVITCH: What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent - LA Times

Big Education Ape: DIANE RAVITCH: What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent - LA Times

DIANE RAVITCH: What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent - LA Times

What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent - LA Times:

What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent

There needs to be a countervailing force in Los Angeles that bolsters the core American tradition of public education: schools that are controlled not by private, unaccountable boards but by the public, through elections. LAUSD needs a superintendent who will scrutinize charter schools for their use of public funds and subject them to regular public audits. It needs a superintendent willing to fight to impose a moratorium on new charters to stop the flow of funds and students from public schools.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has at most a year to replace Ramon C. Cortines as superintendent. This is a crucial time for the district, which has weathered many controversies in the last decade. It is also a crucial time for American public education, which has been under assault for 30 years.

What should the next superintendent bring to the job? Start with the vision and skills to revive public confidence in Los Angeles' public schools. The ideal superintendent would have the courage, and the support of the board, to resist those who seek to undermine and privatize public schools.

I write as a historian who has studied American education for almost 50 years. There has never before been a time such as now, when the very survival of public education is at risk. A powerful coalition of billionaires, libertarians and religious zealots has converged to challenge the legitimacy of public education in Los Angeles and across the nation.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was California's governor, he appointed a majority of charter school advocates to the state school board, even though at the time only 5% of the state's children attended these privately managed schools. The Legislature and the state board strongly supported the creation of more charter schools, and the California Charter Schools Assn. became a major player in Sacramento, pushing pro-charter policies.

During the last school year, of LAUSD's nearly 644,000 students, 138,672 attended 264 charter schools, more than any other city in the nation. Some charters are good schools, but what is the value of having two publicly funded school systems? In general, charter schools operate with minimal oversight, receiving public funds but not necessarily acting like public schools.

Even in California, where charters by law are supposed to accept all comers, many find loopholes that allow them to shape their student bodies in a way true public schools cannot. They boast about their good test scores, but it is easier to get high scores when you're not necessarily educating all comers.

Charter schools have plenty of influential cheerleaders, including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and businessmen/philanthropists Eli Broad and Bill Gates, and a host of high-profile conservative governors (and presidential candidates) such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

There needs to be a countervailing force in Los Angeles that bolsters the core American tradition of public education: schools that are controlled not by private, unaccountable boards but by the public, through elections. LAUSD needs a superintendent who will scrutinize charter schools for their use of public funds and subject them to regular public audits. It needs a superintendent willing to fight to impose a moratorium on new charters to stop the flow of funds and students from public schools.

The next superintendent must double down on LAUSD's classroom deficits. First, he or she should go to the mat for the funding to reduce class sizes, which is especially important for children who are struggling with their studies. The next superintendent must ensure that every school has a full and rich curriculum: history, geography, civics, the arts, science, foreign languages and physical education, as well as reading and math. Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant arts communities in the world, yet many of its public schools have lost their arts teachers. This is shameful.

The new superintendent must also work to reduce the importance of federally driven standardized testing. California administers new Common Core tests although it is not yet using the results to rate students and teachers. Several other states have rejected the new exams because they test students on material they were never taught and set the passing standard at an unrealistic level, sometimes two grade levels above where the children are.What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent - LA Times:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

L.A. district continues to persecute one of the nation’s best teachers - The Washington Post

L.A. district continues to persecute one of the nation's best teachers - The Washington Post

L.A. district continues to persecute one of the nation's best teachers

Fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith's worst nightmare began March 19, during a puzzling meeting in his principal's office. Hobart Boulevard Elementary School's principal indicated something had happened, but Esquith says that he was told he had nothing to worry about.

That was wrong. I consider Esquith to be America's best classroom teacher. The Los Angeles educator's annual Shakespeare productions, real-life economics lessons, advanced readings and imaginative field trips are phenomenal. Yet he has been removed from his classroom since April and told by his school district to say nothing about what is going on.

Fortunately, his attorneys have prepared a detailed account of the administrative incompetence and wrong-headedness that created this situation as Los Angeles Unified School District investigators continue to search for anything they can use against their most-celebrated teacher.

At that March meeting, according to their account, the principal told Esquith: "You have nothing to worry about. This is a bump in the road. I need to counsel you that you need to be careful what you say in front of students." Esquith said fine, still not knowing was they were talking about. He went back to teaching and preparing for "The Winter's Tale," as acted, danced and musically accompanied by his students, mostly from low-income Hispanic and Korean families.

Three weeks later, Esquith learned that the district had forwarded a complaint to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, but the teacher still didn't have details. Esquith said the principal told him he had nothing to worry about and that "this is about nothing."

The next day, Esquith learned the truth: A school staffer had reported to administrators that Esquith made a joke about nudity that she thought might offend students and their parents. Esquith had read to his students a passage from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in which a character called the king comes "prancing out on all fours, naked." Esquith reminded the students that the district did not fund the annual Shakespeare play, and if he could not raise enough money "we will all have to play the role of the king in Huckleberry Finn."

Esquith was told that the district was pressuring him for an apology. Esquith wrote and signed one: "I am deeply and sincerely sorry that any comment someone heard, or thought they heard, has anyone uncomfortable." Nonetheless, two days later, April 10, the district removed him from his classroom — giving no reason — and sent him to an office for disciplinary cases commonly known as the teacher jail. (He was later allowed to stay home, with pay.)

On May 27, the state credentialing commission rejected the district's complaint. That same day, investigators met with Esquith and asked him bizarre questions, such as did he know any teachers who didn't like him and which women he dated in college.

Investigators eventually said they found a man who said Esquith had abused him when he was 8 or 9, during a time when Esquith was a teenage counselor at a Jewish summer day camp. The alleged incidents happened 40 years ago. The man told the Los Angeles Times that he reported this to a Los Angeles school board member and the police in 2006, but nothing came of it. Esquith has denied wrongdoing.

Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume revealed recently that cases like Esquith's had previously been left up to principals, but after a 2012 molestation scandal, the district began to suspend and investigate hundreds of teachers for even small alleged infractions.

Esquith is being treated like a Wall Street cheat. On July 8, the district's investigators asked him for all of his tax returns, loan and bank records since 2000, giving no reason. Many other teachers being similarly targeted are asking Esquith's lawyers for help.

This is an investigation gone rogue. If it continues, the Los Angeles school district — previously devoted to helping its students — is at risk of not only losing an exceptional teacher, but also its very soul.

L.A. superintendent: ‘When it comes to student safety, we are going to choose students over adults every single time.’ - The Washington Post

L.A. superintendent: 'When it comes to student safety, we are going to choose students over adults every single time.' - The Washington Post

L.A. superintendent: 'When it comes to student safety, we are going to choose students over adults every single time.'

Los Angeles schools superintendent Ramon C. Cortines e-mailed me Monday night with a reaction to my latest column on the wide-ranging investigation of award-winning fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith. I have argued that the L.A. school district has been persecuting Esquith, who I consider to be one of the nation's best teachers, for a comment he made to students that was misunderstood. (You can read the column here). Here is what Cortines said in response, and below that a further comment from Esquith's attorney:

Mr. Mathews,

I was disappointed to read your latest column on Hobart Elementary School teacher Rafe Esquith.

While we respect that Mr. Esquith is extremely popular and agree that investigations should be completed in a timely matter, nothing and I mean nothing, will stand in the way of making sure our students and school communities are safe. We also take seriously our obligation to ensure that our employees behave ethically.

This investigation is not merely about an off-colored joke made in the classroom. It has become far more complex than that. Our investigators go where the information takes them. Ultimately, we owe it to our students and our community to take any allegation against an adult seriously. We are also mindful of the need for confidentiality on all sides of an issue. To imply that the LAUSD should rush its investigation just because someone is well-liked, or is a celebrity, is simply ridiculous. Our request that Mr. Esquith voluntarily turn over information is aimed at expediting the ethics aspect of the investigation.

From the outside looking in, you may believe you know what is right. I can assure you, we know what is right for our students. When it comes to student safety, we are going to choose students over adults every single time.

Thank you,

Ramon C. Cortines


Office of the Superintendent

Los Angeles Unified School District

And here is a response from Esquith's attorney, Ben Meiselas:

As we stated in our letter responding to LAUSD/Sedgwick law firm, Superintendent Cortines and his minions have declared war on public education and public school teachers. There is a reason hundreds of teachers have reached out to our law firm, with identical issues to Rafe, who were previously silenced, most nearing retirement age. This is the height of corruption and an LAUSD administration gone delusional with power and a regime that is anti-teacher. It is especially shocking to hear this from a superintendent currently embroiled in his own sexual harassment scandal and multiple audit and public corruption scandals. Superintendent Cortines would fail the McCarthy witch-hunts he now leads in 30 seconds. Shame, shame on Superintendent Cortines.

Jay Mathews

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bill Gates Faces Trial in India for Illegally Testing Tribal Children with Vaccines | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Bill Gates Faces Trial in India for Illegally Testing Tribal Children with Vaccines | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Bill Gates Faces Trial in India for Illegally Testing Tribal Children with Vaccines

Have Bill Gates and his eugenicist foundation's crimes against humanity finally caught up with him? If the Supreme Court of India has anything to say about it, he will face the ramifications of poisoning millions of Indian children with vaccines.

A recent report published by Health Impact News shows that a vaccine empire built on lies can only go on for so long. The reports states:

"While fraud and corruption are revealed on almost a daily basis now in the vaccine industry, the U.S. mainstream media continues to largely ignore such storiesOutside the U.S., however, the vaccine empires are beginning to crumble, and English versions of the news in mainstream media outlets are available via the Internet.

One such country is India, where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their vaccine empire are under fire, including a pending lawsuit currently being investigated by the India Supreme Court."

If you aren't aware of the key players in the vaccine mayhem being driven into African countries, they are:

  • The World Health Organization
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, funded by the Gates' foundation), and
  • GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, also funded by the Gates' foundation)

All four of these organizations will now be expected to explain themselves due to a writ of petition originally submitted to the Supreme Court of India in 2012, by Kalpana Mehta, Nalini Bhanot, and Dr. Rukmini Rao, which has finally been heard by the courts.

The petitioners stated:

"BMGF, PATH and WHO were criminally negligent trialling the vaccines on a vulnerable, uneducated and under-informed population school administrators, students and their parents who were not provided informed consent or advised of potential adverse effects or required to be monitored post-vaccination."

Furthermore, though absent from most mainstream U.S. media outlets, the Economic Times of India published their report in August 2014, stating that young tribal girls were tested with HPV vaccines. This involved not a handful of children, but 16,000 individuals in Andhra Pradesh, India, where they were given the Gardasil vaccine.

KP Narayana Kumar reported that within a month of receiving the vaccine, many of the children fell ill, and by 2010, five of them had died. Another two children were reported to have died in Vadodara, Gujarat, where another 14,000 tribal children were vaccinated with another brand of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK), who incidentally, has been accused of dumping polio virus into a Belgium river.

Consent forms to administer the HPV vaccine were 'illegally' signed by wardens form youth hostels, showing that the Gates' prey on the indigent without parents. For those who had parents, most were illiterate, and the true potential dangers of the vaccines were not explained to them.

SAMA, an organization in India which promotes women's health discovered this insidiousness, and reported it, but only now will Gates and his cronies have to answer for their misdeeds. Approximately 120 girls reported epileptic seizures, severe stomach cramps, headaches, and mood swings, of those who did not die. Other girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine have experienced infertility.

The Economic Times further reported:

"The SAMA report also said there had been cases of early onset of menstruation following the vaccination, heavy bleeding and severe menstrual cramps among many students. The standing committee pulled up the relevant state governments for the shoddy investigation into these deaths.

It said it was disturbed to find that 'all the seven deaths were summarily dismissed as unrelated to vaccinations without in-depth investigations …' the speculative causes were suicides, accidental drowning in well (why not suicide?), malaria, viral infections, subarachnoid hemorrhage (without autopsy) etc."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared their little vaccine project a total success. I guess the Supreme Court of India will decide that now.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Esquith probe now centers on Hobart Shakespeareans

Esquith probe now centers on Hobart Shakespeareans

Esquith probe now centers on nonprofit Hobart Shakespeareans


Ian McKellen visits Hobart Shakespeareans

The LA Unified investigation of popular teacher Rafe Esquith is now focusing on the nonprofit theater group he founded in 1989, The Hobart Shakespeareans.

"It looks like the bizarre accusations of abuse have been forgotten, and now they're moving on a request to see 15 years of financial records for the Shakespearean group," said Ben Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos, who is representing the teacher, and referred to the continuing investigation as a fishing expedition to try to find something wrong with his client.

Esquith faces unspecific allegations of saying something inappropriate about nudity in a classroom while quoting from Mark Twain. He was removed from the classroom on April 13 and told to report to a district administrative office — often referred to as "teacher jail" — while an investigation was pending.

The district has declined to comment because the investigation is on-going.

The initial investigation grew to include an accusation of sexual abuse 40 years ago, which the teacher denies. Now, the investigation is turning toward Esquith's nonprofit group which is independent from LAUSD and is run by an independent board of directors. Esquith gets no salary from the Shakespeareans, and in fact donates thousands of dollars of his own money to the group, which was started because of cuts in the arts by LAUSD.

The group teaches students how to perform Shakespeare plays, and has been profiled by CBS, Time, Washington Post, PBS and other national media outlets.

The recent request for documentation came from Scheper Kim & Harris, a law firm outside of LAUSD.

"These investigations become self-fulfilling prophecies," Meiselas said. "This is a program that has changed people's lives."

Actors such as Ian McKellen, Hal Holbrook, John Lithgow and Michael York have visited and praised the Hobart Shakespeareans, and donated money to the group. On its website, 17 groups and individuals have pledged $10,000 or more to them, including William McClatchy, the Roth Family Foundation, Peter and Helen Bing and The Vanguard Group. At least 19 others have donated $5,000.

None of the students or parents involved with the Hobart Shakespeareans has complained about Esquith, who was awarded Disney National Outstanding Teacher of the Year, among other awards. Because of his "teacher jail" status, the dozen sold-out performances planned this year were canceled, as well as a July trip to Oregon for a Shakespeare Theatrical Festival.

According to the attorney's complaint letter to LAUSD, during questioning, "Students actually felt threatened by the LAUSD investigators. Parents of the students in Room 56 collectively complained to LAUSD about the harassing conduct their students experienced at the hands of the LAUSD investigators."

Meiselas said he has been getting eight to 10 emails a day about other teachers disciplined through the "teacher jail" system.

"The absurdity of the line of questioning and the McCarthy-like tactics is hard to comprehend," Meiselas said. "This is not something that even the superintendent (Ramon Cortines) could be able to handle."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fwd: EXPANDING MUSIC AT VHS!! (and Mark Twain too!!!)

Begin forwarded message:

From: Sara Roos via CREDO Mobilize <>
Date: July 13, 2015 at 3:17:45 PM PDT
Subject: EXPANDING MUSIC AT VHS!! (and Mark Twain too!!!)
Reply-To: Sara Roos via CREDO Mobilize <>

July 13, 2015

Dear Supporters of VHS Music:


YOUR voice / our voice was raised throughout middle and high schools on the westside; we have been heard and beginning to advanced music students will all find musical instruction at Venice HS next year, 2015-16.

There are SO many administrators, parents and teachers to thank for this collaborative effort: Dr. Pullens, Director of Arts Education; Principals Mendoza and Bishop and their APs; Boardmember Zimmer and his staff, Superintendents Cortines and Hildreth and their staff; Mr. Keith McKnight and many allied middle school parents; Ms. Kornbeck and Ms. West and all their middle and high school music teacher colleagues … the list goes on and on.

But after all the back-slapping, there remains work to be done. While Mr. Pullens and his arts staff hire us a perfect-fit music teacher for VHS, we parents must spread the word to our students! It is for the students that this opportunity has been created, and we must help them "pick up their options".

                                  Students need to know that instrumental music
                                       is available for their schedule next year.

And critically, we must reach families whose interest in attending Venice HS might be renewed by this fantastic news. With just a few more matriculating families at VHS next year, we will be able to retain the administrative help which is so important to the school's smooth running.

Please, encourage your kids to sign up for instrumental music next year at VHS if they are at all interested. And please-please-please, encourage your neighbor's kids to consider attending VHS too. Our marching band was once infamous and famous nationally, too – let's retain this proud part of our local heritage:

                           TOGETHER, westside families are supporting VHS and its
                                     proud tradition of strong, wonderful music.

Please forward this message to all your kids, family, neighbors, friends, friends of music and education and on and on.  This is important news that must reach all throughout our extended communities: please help spread the word!! 

                                        WE SUPPORT MUSIC AT VENICE HIGH!

Cynthia Liu started this petition on CREDO Mobilize. If there's an issue close to your heart that you'd like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.

You received this email because you signed the petition 'Strengthen Curricular Music Instruction At Venice High School: Please!'. If you don't want to receive emails from the 'Strengthen Curricular Music Instruction At Venice High School: Please!' campaign in the future, please unsubscribe.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fwd: [New post] AFT Endorses Hillary. BIG SURPRISE!
dianeravitch posted: "The AFT announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President American Federation of Teachers Endorses Hillary Clinton for President For Release: Saturday, July 11, 2015 WASHINGTON—On Saturday, the executive c"

Friday, July 10, 2015

Targeted Teachers Target Corruption

Targeted Teachers Target Corruption

Targeted Teachers Target Corruption

EDUCATION POLITICS -The organized corporate assault on public education -- and more specifically costly veteran teachers -- has gone on unimpeded over the last nine years, because teachers' unions around the country have not only done nothing to protect their dues paying members, they have actually assisted the school districts in getting rid of top of the salary scale teachers. 

They have done this under the pretext of offering an appearance of validity to what, on closer examination, is a clearly illegal and morally reprehensible process that has destroyed the lives of thousands of completely innocent teachers around the country -- that is, until now. 

In New York City, UFTSolidarity, under the leadership of unjustly targeted teachers and others, has finally realized that the best defense against this well-orchestrated assault against public education by the school district and their union is a proactive offense. Their goal is to take back their union with a substantive program designed to vigorously confront the corporate agenda of privatizing public education for profit and the further dumbing of America that has finally gotten some push back. 

In going through the platform of UFTSolidarity, and talking with presidential candidate and fellow targeted teacher Francesco Portellos, it occurred to me that what teachers are doing in NYC at UFTSolidarity could be cloned and applied here in Los Angeles or elsewhere around the country, where teachers' unions have also rolled over, ensuring the illegal elimination of huge numbers of their older and higher paid teachers. 

ACTION INFO-If, after reading more about UFTSolidarity's platform and actions, you find what they are doing is to finally present a reasonable response to the war on public education, contact them to get some help doing the same thing here:  646-883-8487 or   

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He's a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at Leonard can be reached at )




Vol 13 Issue 56

Pub: Jul 10, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fwd: [New post] Early Childhood Educator Feels the Pain of Income Inequality
dianeravitch posted: "In a brief discussion of income inequality on the blog, I pointed out that it was unfair that a handful of people live in luxury while large numbers of people worry about paying their rent. It is not healthy for our democracy to have such vast inequality."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |

Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |


A Sun Valley teacher is fighting to regain his job and his reputation. He claims someone created a fake Facebook account and posted inappropriate messages using his name.

Jason Duchan says a former student bent on ruining him, created the fake page.

"When I saw this, I couldn't believe it," Duchan said.

The page has since been taken down.

The John Francis Polytechnic High School teacher says school officials learned of the page last November and immediately suspended him pending an investigation.

They also sent a letter to parents, telling them that an employee had been removed for alleged misconduct.

Give me Stalin and St. Paul or Give me Christ and Hiroshima ( comment from Ravitch Blog on the Plight of Railroaded Teachers Drew Pepper commented: "KnowtheFactsFirst June 29, 2015 at 8:08 pm "What do you expect the District to do? All the police investigate is whether there is enough evidence to arrest/prosecute a teacher. The school investigates 'liability' concerns. If there appears evide"
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Are you an injured teacher? CALL (818) 981-9960

Are you an injured teacher?  CALL (818) 981-9960