"I'm grateful to them for their commitment and dedication in helping our students succeed," she said.
But she was not available for any questions about the campaign, her board office said.
A debt collection agency has been ordered to pay $83 million to a Missouri woman after a jury decided that the agency 'maliciously prosecuted' her to collect a debt she did not owe.
Maria Guadalupe Mejia, 51, won her case against Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC, one of the largest debt buyers in the U.S., after the company mistakenly sued Mejia for a credit card debt of $1,000 belonging to a man with a similar sounding name, according to NPR affiliate KCUR.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel P. Fahnestock struck down the debt collector's pleadings after it failed to hand over information in the case.
The full damages, determined by the jury after five days of hearing evidence, dealt a $250,000 fine for violating the Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and punitive damages of $82,990,000 for the malicious prosecution of Mejia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Contact: Carl Petersen
Our Turn- Tamar Galatzan
Like athletes, politicians are expected to declare victory in advance of their contest. The standard stump speech is expected to include the words "when I win this election, I will…" because the first job of the candidate is to get voters to contemplate them sitting in office. Using the words "if I win election" does not inspire that same confidence.
Tamar Galatzan takes things further and publicly ignores the fact that the election will even occur. As voters prepare to make their decision she has refused them every opportunity to compare her against other candidates by blowing off candidate forums. Instead of addressing the voters directly through the city's free program to provide a video statement to the voters, she relies on the charter schools to spend over $900,000 trying to buy the seat for her. A student journalist and LAUSD graduate could not even get an interview with her. When addressing the concerns of parents, she promises them that she "will continue with my plan to ask the board and the superintendent to review the Breakfast in the Classroom program at the conclusion of the school year," ignoring the fact that this will occur after the voters have spoken.
Perhaps Galatzan's greatest swipe at the electorate's intelligence is when she asserts that the "district is going in the right direction." Not since the Wizard told Dorothy not to look behind the curtain has their been such a pitiful attempt to spin reality. This school year has included a constant barrage of scandals, including ethics complaints filed against the incumbent herself. A state judge had to tell the district to fix the $100 million MiSiS program, the FBI and SEC are both investigating the $1.3 billion iPad program and our children are drinking from water fountains that are leaching lead. Calahan Elementary, Nobel Middle School and Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies are just some of the schools in District 3 that have reported a severe breakdown in the ability of parents to engage in their children's education. All is not alright in Oz.
Fortunately for the electorate, Tuesday's election will not be a case of choosing between the lesser of two evils. Her opponent, Scott Mark Schmerelson, is a retired principal who also was a teacher and counselor during his 35 year career as a professional educator. There are a great many teachers volunteering for his campaign who used to work under him, which is a great testimony to both his temperament and professionalism.
We have the power to bring the change to the LAUSD that we all know is needed. All it requires is taking a few minutes out of your day on Tuesday. If turnout is as expected, you will not even have to wait in much of a line. Alternatively, you can sit at home and reward the arrogance of a public servant who treats her re-election as an entitlement. The ball is in your court.
UTLA: WHERE IS THE MONEY?In 2005 The UTLA House of Representatives passed a motion renaming the crisis fund the strike fund, with 3% of member dues deposited into the fund each month. This motion reads as follows: "Further move that no money may be withdrawn from the Strike Fund, nor any deposits to the strike fund be directed elsewhere, except in the case of a member sanctioned labor action. In the case of a member sanctioned labor action, union leaders may use the funds as needed in pursuance of the aims of the labor action. In order not to bind the hands of the union leadership in times of crisis, further move that limitations on use of monies in the strike fund may be overridden by a 2/3 vote of the UTLA House of Representatives."
deutsch29 posted: "On May 12, 2015, the Badass Association of Teachers (BATs) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) produced the first of what will likely be many reports on information collected as part of an online survey on teacher stress. The report linked ab"
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On May 12, 2015, the Badass Association of Teachers (BATs) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) produced the first of what will likely be many reports on information collected as part of an online survey on teacher stress.
The report linked above is posted on the AFT website and introduces the survey as follows:
After concerns of stress on the job were reported to the Badass Teachers Association, a survey on well-being, working conditions and stressors for educators was designed by a group of teachers who are members of the American Federation of Teachers or BATs, and it was reviewed and refined by a workplace stress expert and a professional pollster. Circulated via email and social media, the survey was posted online on April 21 and closed on May 1. The first of its kind, the 80-question survey was filled out by more than 30,000 educators.
The survey can be viewed here.
I plan to write about the survey results; however, I am waiting until the BATs are ready to release the actual response rates for each of the categorical questions on the survey. (Some questions are open-ended and thus are not tabulated by category. These open-ended responses must be analyzed using qualitative research techniques.)
For now, in this post, I would like to offer a teacher stressor response more like an individual case study:
What I write is my experience, and I offer it here in hopes that my experience might prove useful to those who read it. Though they are candid, my words are not intended to negatively reflect on the BATs' noble effort to support teachers by publicizing the stress we currently face as a matter of course under test-score-driven, teacher-scapegoating, corporate "reform."
What follows is simply my perspective on the matter of both the BATs survey and my own "teacher stress" experience.
I saw the invitation to take the survey on the BATs Facebook page, and I also received an email from AFT about the survey. I chose not to complete the survey. My immediate thought upon seeing the invitation was that one needs no survey to know that teachers are under tremendous stress to prove their worth in student test score outcomes.
However, I realize now that the survey was a chance for teachers to not only have a voice, 80 questions of brief catharsis, but also for BATs to preserve a record of teacher stress in an effort to combat it.
What sealed the deal for my deciding not to complete the survey was AFT's involvement in the effort. In its 2013 survey on teachers perceptions of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), AFT manipulated the reporting of the result to make it appear that teacher support for CCSS was more solid than it actually was. This led to the fabricated-yet-popular media message that teachers are fine with CCSS and that it is only implementation that is the problem.
In her May 12, 2015, article on the BAT-AFT survey, Washington Post writer Lyndsey Layton draws attention to the idea that it is CCSS implementation that it the problem-- as if teachers are automatically fine with there being a CCSS to begin with:
Teachers said they feel particularly anxious about having to carry out a steady stream of new initiatives — such as implementing curricula and testing related to the Common Core State Standards — without being given adequate training, according to the survey.
The BAT-AFT survey question to which Layton's statement connects, number 28, makes no mention of CCSS. However, I have heard Layton jump to this "implementation is the problem" conclusion before in her March 2014 interview with billionaire Bill Gates. And regarding CCSS implementation, she refers to Weingarten.
CCSS is an undeniable part of the AFT agenda.
Concerning the BAT-AFT survey, I did not want my words on the stress in my professional life to be open to manipulation to suit some AFT agenda.
Indeed, AFT President Randi Weingarten's decisions so often go against what one might call "teacher support" that I include her among the top stressors connected to my professional life. She supports CCSS and has even given as her reason that for her, CCSS support is "personal." Moreover, she only reluctantly agreed to take no more Gates money when put on the spot by education historian Diane Ravitch in a session at the 2015 Network for Public Education (NPE) conference in Chicago. Finally, she refuses to take a public stand against Democratic governors who are horrible toward teachers (Cuomo of New York; Malloy of Connecticut), and she even engages in highly-questionable, back-door Cuomo support actions such as the September 2014 robocall for Cuomo running mate, Kathy Hochul.
Weingarten appears to be little more than a willing errand girl for the corporate-bent Democratic National Party. That stresses me, a teacher who regularly pays AFT dues from her frozen teacher salary. I expect I am far from alone on this one.
Other notable professional stressors on me include the top-down nature of corporate reform. Both the US secretary of education and Louisiana state superintendent are bent on destroying teaching as a profession and replacing it with the likes of turnstile temp teachers from Teach for America (TFA). Nevertheless, I am employed by a district that values career teachers and to date has refused to employ TFAers. The district is stable and has an established reputation among teachers as a desirable district in which to teach-- the same as it had when I became a teacher in 1991.
As to local support, I know that my district or school-level administrators are not trying to get rid of me. That noted, I still must deal with my professional worth as being tied to student test scores. The criteria is ever-changing. This year, I have received a formal classroom observation rating of "effective." Also, according to my students' End-of-Course (EOC) tests, I have been rated "highly effective"-- though I wonder the degree to which their high scores is evidence of their improving ability to take computerized tests.
The final measure was the most uncertain for me: It is a VAM-like concoction using the ACT series of tests (Explore for grade 9, PLAN for grade 10, and ACT for grade 11). Here's how this game goes: I teach tenth grade. At the beginning of the year, I had to count the number of students who had a 14 or higher on Explore or a 15 or higher on PLAN. These students were considered to be "on level." The rest were not. So, of those who were not, I was supposed to show that 10 percent "grew" to reach the acceptable scoring threshold on the next test in the ACT series in order to be rated "highly effective." But here's the catch: Any student who met the previous threshold but did not meet the next was added to the group of students whose scores counted against me.
As it turns out, the scores fell such that I can continue to be rated "effective." I do not control these scores.
I do not control the scores, yet my livelihood rests on these test scores. And here is the key to my sanity: My faith in Christ is the cornerstone of my life. I know that most of life is out of my control. I do what I can with a thankful and respectful attitude, and I consciously and intentionally leave the rest to God.
One key element I can control is my advocacy. I blog. I speak publicly. I write books. And this regular, intellectual stimulation, this contributing to a greater purpose in serving others, these contributions God uses to strengthen and sustain me as I journey through the burdensome nonsense of test-score-driven "reform."
Other assets contributing to my mental heath include listening to soothing instrumental music, watching my favorite comedy DVDs, regularly exercising, limiting my time around those who will complain and not act, and practicing a thankful attitude regardless of the circumstances.
Whether all of the above would have emerged in answers to the BAT survey I cannot tell, but I invite readers to take from my words what they find useful and encouraging.
My best to you all.
Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.
She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.
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I keep wondering when Jamie Alter-Lynton, sibling of the dubious Jonathan Alter, will have her "news" blog — LA School Report — cover either the Lakeview Audit, or the Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo (Better 4 You Meals) self-dealing scandal, or both? Alter-Lynton's site claims that it practices "journalism in the public interest", yet somehow misses two of the biggest Los Angeles education scandals of the year, both centering around their candidate: charter industry profiteer Ref Rodriguez.
Schools Matter: Ref Rodriguez's school scandals unreported by LA School Report?:
Have you ever noticed how often the investigative journalist or war correspondent in a "news movie" wins the battle only to lose the war, and often dies doing so? When they do win—that is, the reporters who don't sell out as flak jacketed "embedded" poseurs—their victories are often so Pyrrhic that sometimes the greatest effects resulting from their sacrifices are just catharsis and admiration, effects insufficient to check and right society. The sleazy brokers, political cheaters, Ponzi schemers, and robber barons are exposed, pilloried, sometimes jailed, but then just keep on coming, like rats running out of one abandoned building and into twenty occupied buildings all around it—to breed and give themselves raises. For every Pulitzer Prize winning exposé you get five Steve Jobs rip off con games or Senatorial malfeasances.
Within the decades of my generation, the worlds of corporate and political opportunism versus the world of journalistic policing of that opportunism have collided, and in at least one significant case the ethical side has lost. In a reality imagined as paranoid conspiracy thirty years ago, Rupert Murdock eviscerated the Murrow legacy in order to ensure that a newspaper or television news source would serve entirely as a commodifiable political delivery device. Some would say that the news has always been this way. Some would be wrong.
We could debate whether or not the old school of journalistic integrity really protected the truth, or set a higher bar, or was politically biased, or whether or not its staffing sexism and racism polluted the standards of evidence-driven reportage. I'll lay money down that I'll win that argument, at least against a relativist or presentist. Yes, Walter Cronkite had a political agenda. No, he did not have the freedom to engage it that Keith Olbermann did. Yes, he was a white man. Thomas Sowell is not. Ann Coulter is not. Is the news media better and more respected as a result? And, the bigger point here would be that almost no one influencing social media or coming up in the world of internet communication remembers or has been taught what the old school of journalism was.
So here, as a tool for social use, I'm going to turn to the movies. Movies can provide us with an application of the news that the news itself fails to provide. This happens if only through the retrospective position film is given by journalists who break the stories that film employs. What we know about journalism helps us receive and critique journalism beyond simply judging it by whether or not it is parroting our own politics. And what we know about journalism is a frequently examined subject on the big(ger) screen.
The following is a list of twelve films that I think are worth seeing, especially with a high school or young college student, for their handling of journalism—from war correspondence to network news to investigative reporting. If you have a 16-year-old who blogs and is wondering what good there is to be found in research, eloquence, and argumentation, here are some great retro/popcorn evenings together to consider:
1. Broadcast News (1987). One of my five favorite movies of all time, as much as I avoid choosing favorites. James L. Brooks's comedic treatment of the serious issue of journalistic integrity was at the cusp of the "mainstream media's" decline into its current state. This is the movie The Newsroom wants to be. When you watch it, see if your teenager even understands the ethical issue at stake—a litmus of the current generation's comprehension of the difference between news and advertising, ethics and buccaneering.
2. All the President's Men (1981). I have to tell you, the narrative speed does not hold up over time. I watched this film over and over in college, read Bob Woodward's book, and sat rapt into the wee hours. My 10th summer, when we followed the Watergate scandal from my Aunt Z's living room, comes back vividly. Twenty years after college I watched this film again and, despite the value it still holds for me, I fell asleep. It's a great movie, but you've got to calibrate to a slower narrative arc and some real reaches for dramatic tension than we're used to nowadays. As a historical document on film that will open the eyes of a new generation to the importance of news media as a check to political power (if your kid stays awake), you aren't going to find better.
3. The Insider (1999). This is some of Al Pacino's best second-stage work, in fact, as a supporting actor to one of Russell Crowe's finest performances. Pacino here is reminiscent of his first-stage brilliance in Dog Day Afternoon or Serpico, less cartoonish than he sometimes comes off in more recent films. We get to see why 60 Minutes had the gravitas it did and why the mistrust of corporate lies and public endangerment is not a Cassandra effect. You can also tell your kid that it's a depiction of the main reason America's smokers have to stand outside in freezing weather during their lunch breaks.
4. The Killing Fields (1984). It would take a book to list all the reasons to see this movie. The most powerful one I can find is that the movie is a historical nexus for the entire cultural blast radius of Vietnam—in fact, more so than all but the very best Vietnam "war movies." It's as hard to watch as any gore-fest in the jungle, so get ready for some emotional work (I cried at least twice during the film). As a follow-up, watch Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, a different kind of meta-journalism in the form of one of the best dramatic monologues of the 20th century.
5. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). Great work by an actor who should get more props than he already does, David Strathairn (see especially the film Limbo), and by George Clooney, who as director polishes the silver of the silver screen era to brilliance. Edward R. Murrow is one of my heroes, and a hero to most journalists of what would probably now be considered "the old school," which means the school at which you get an education.
6. The Wire, season five (2008). I do not like television shows, as a rule. They tend to drive me crazy with raised expectation and dashed hope. Now and then, especially after the 1990s move to sustained narratives that extend the "mini-series" model to a maxi-series, I soften to television. Aaron Sorkin's West Wing was better than The Newsroom, but trumps them both is The Wire—pertinent to this list the season that focused on The Baltimore Sun newspaper's part in an exceptionally well-crafted 60 episodes about the fictional Barksdale gang. What I'd recommend is watching the whole show, start to finish, through its five seasons.
7. Network (1976). Iconic of 1970s Orwellian film, and famous for its "I'm mad as hell" line, this movie looks at the very nature of corruption and informational power, as well as martyr-level activist rage. It is for teenagers of the 21st century era what watching Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent would be for a 40-something parent. Just the project of a 21st century being adjusting to the concerns of a world in which television held the power the internet now holds is reason enough to re-visit this movie, as if three Oscar-winning performances and evidence that Ingmar Bergmann can stand toe to toe with Orwell and Huxley isn't enough. Watch it with the kid's grandparents—the people who invented television shows.
8. Where the Buffalo Roam (1980). Take issue with this one over Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) if you wish, and I'm willing to admit that by Fear and Loathing I'd had more than enough Johnny Depp, as much as I like him. The Bill Murray/Peter Boyle version of Hunter S. Thompson and his Samoan attorney Lazlo (who was actually the Chicano attorney and novelist Oscar Zeta Acosta) is closer to the feel of Thompson's book. It's rough-edged and more gonzo than the slick effect carnival of the 1998 movie. I'm not picky; see them both.
9. The China Syndrome (1979). This is one of perhaps three movies that defined the Cold War generation. It helped turn "duck and cover" into "head in the sand" and alerted the nation to grass-roots skepticism about literal power greed over large-scale environmental catastrophe. You want a concise review? It scared the shit out of me almost as much as The Exorcist. The film is worth watching now in the context of Fukushima, given that the Three Mile Island incident would probably have had through the news a tenth of the cultural force it had through the big screen. An entire social movement gained traction from this project, one that prepared America to receive Chernobyl with greater intelligence and provided the kind of emotional resonance coupled with scientific interest that is at the heart of strong investigative journalism. And your kid (and you, if you've forgotten) will learn what "the China syndrome" is—something well worth learning.
10. The Soloist (2009). I've tried to avoid movies only marginally about journalism, but this had to make the list because it is very much about telling someone else's story who cannot or will not tell it, especially when the story is one we should literally hear. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx handle the almost entirely two-actor picture with bravery and considerable talent. For someone considering what it means to ask a question, to break from one's own narcissism into the care and empathy required to do the good work, this is a movie to watch.
11. Talk Radio (1988). I chose this Eric Bogosian project over The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)—apples and oranges—although I'd rank Talk Radio as perhaps the lesser movie. I did so because of Talk Radio's historical position as a movie about the social effects of shock jock radio agitprop that has become the evil empire of Rush Limbaugh and company. For entertainment value, and for what talk radio should have remained (which is pirate radio) I like Pump Up the Volume (1990) with Christian Slater. Bogosian nailed down the genre via his trademark cross-genre approach: the movie is a collaboration with Oliver Stone that converts a stage play to a film about radio. It's also about liberal talk radio—another phenomenon all but relegated to our journalistic past.
12. The Front Page (1931 or 1974). I'm putting this on the list at the risk of looking like I'm trying to be a film expert, which I'm not. In addition to just being a wonderful goofball comedy—once you make that critical adjustment from your 21st sensibilities to the style of the previous economic depression era—this is a film of significant historical interest. It's been remade at least four times, from Howard Hawks's 1940 His Girl Friday to the 1988, and avoidable, Switching Channels. I'd recommend starting with The 1974 Lemmon and Matthau version, more of a romantic, though equally ridiculous, farce. Both the 1931 and 1974 versions (quite different from each other though built on the same premise) are a good study in comedy's evolution through the "get the story no matter what" trope. Your kid might also ask who Sacco and Vanzetti were, which would be terrific.
I've got maybe another ten films on a runner-up list that I've partially revealed by cheating on #11. These would include Elia Kazan's 1957 A Face in the Crowd and might include the Anchorman movies (against the voice in me that says Ferrell's creation won't hold up through the 2020s). Feel free to jump on—this is a website with comments, remember, in the democratic demographic 21st century amateur journalism mode. Argue for your choice knocking one of these other movies off my list.
If you have a daughter, do The Year of Living Dangerously and The Pelican Brief after Broadcast News and The China Syndrome, if only to avoid watching men as the sole focus so often. The news is most certainly a sexist racket—just watch the weather. Tell your college-bound daughter who Joan Didion is and get her reading great essays.
But, above all, sit down with your kid who hates English class and wonders why writing and researching a topic matter, or what ethical integrity means, and watch these movies on movie night. I mean, what good is the news if we don't talk about movies that talk about it?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 15, 2015
Contact: Carl Petersen
After writing my last blog about the introduction of Breakfast in the Classroom at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES), Tamar Galatzan replied to parents about their concerns. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the concerns raised by the 98% of families who signed opt-out forms, she relied on the advice of the District's legal department. The same people who concluded to it was permissible to claim that a middle school student can consent to sex with a teacher, have now decided "that parents have no constitutional right to require the district to obtain signed permission slips for participation in Breakfast in the Classroom." The email exchange is as follows:
From: Rescue our children [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 9:08 PM
Subject: United against Breakfast in Classroom at Soces
Members of the community, along with parents of children at LAUSD schools refuse to allow Sherman Oaks Ces to be bullied by Los Angeles Unified District into adopting "Breakfast" in Classroom Program.
We hereby require parent permission slips (NOT opt out forms) to be provided to Sherman Oaks Ces parents immediately. Not requiring permission is contrary to existing policies and procedures, and having access to them is their civil right!
There is a tremendous amount of data to back up the fact that processed "foods", high in sugar and fat content WILL cause various serious ailments. If parents of needy children give the school district permission to feed their children unhealthy "food", then, by all means they should be fed, but NOT at the expense of other CHILDREN'S' HEALTH and VALUABLE CLASS TIME!
By ignoring the voices of 98% of parents at SOCES who stand against Breakfast in Classroom, you are making this issue much bigger than it would be otherwise! You risk losing the merits of the entire program by not addressing SOCES with its documented opposition!
Also, Mrs. Galazan, since we have to make a decision on your election shortly, we'd really like to know where you stand on this very serious and important matter!
Thank you for your time and attention!
From: Galatzan, Tamar
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 1:32 PM
Cc: Benavidez, Laura; Kim, Margaret; Jones, Barbara A.; Maltez, Byron; Hernandez, Judith L.; 'email@example.com'
Subject: RE: United against Breakfast in Classroom at Soces
Thank you for your email.
I am checking with the district's Office of General Counsel regarding permission slips for Breakfast in the Classroom, and will let you know whether our attorneys determine this is feasible or allowable under the federally established guidelines for this program.
In the meantime, we are anticipating a smooth roll-out of Breakfast in the Classroom at SOCES on Monday morning.
Looking ahead, I will continue with my plan to ask the board and the superintendent to review the Breakfast in the Classroom program at the conclusion of the school year.
Subject: RE: United against Breakfast in Classroom at Soces
Date: Thu, 14 May 2015 17:00:38 +0000
As a follow-up to my previous email, I have consulted with LAUSD's Office of General Council. Our attorneys have reviewed all aspects of Breakfast in the Classroom and determined that LAUSD is in compliance with all federal and state laws regarding how it operates the program. Our attorneys also say that parents have no constitutional right to require the district to obtain signed permission slips for participation in Breakfast in the Classroom. Therefore, we will not be making any changes to our procedures at this time.
This blatant disregard of these parents concerns is indicative of what is wrong with the LAUSD. While Galatzan likes to present herself as the only Board member with children in the District, the fact is that she was first elected just as her oldest child enrolled in the district. She has no idea what it is like to be a parent in the district without also being the boss of those in charge of the schools. If she did, she might be more sympathetic to parents who have to deal with the district without this advantage.
Election day is on Tuesday, May 19, and voters have a real choice. Tamar Galatzan believes that the district is going in the "right direction." In the primary election, 60% of the electorate disagreed and voted for her opponents. If they show up for the general election, the students and parents will get the change that they need.