Lights, Camera, Action: Los Angeles Parents Film PSA About the School Funding Crisis

Parents at Melrose Avenue Elementary pooled their entertainment industry talents to create a video that drives home a point: Schools need money.


"When your company does well do you fire your best employees?" That's one of the questions asked in the above public service announcement about education funding produced by parents at Melrose Avenue Elementary, a science, technology, engineering, and math magnet school in Los Angeles. Almost 70 percent of the school's 339 students are children of color and another 70 percent receive reduced or free lunch—and in 2010 the school improved 124 points on the State of California's Academic Performance Index, the biggest gains of any public school in the state.

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Broke L.A. Schools Are Giving Teachers a Half Day to Protest

In an unprecedented move, LAUSD is working with the local teachers union to make a protest of education cuts happen.

Just how bad is California's education budget crisis? In an unprecedented move, the Los Angeles Unified School District plans to dismiss students early on Friday, May 13 so that teachers and other school staff can protest proposed cuts to education. In fact, the nation's second largest school district is in such a financial crisis that they're actually working with the local teacher's union, UTLA, to make the protest happen—a very rare thing.

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Half of Detroit's Schools May Close

Financial mismanagement and declining enrollment are ringing a death knell for Detroit's schools.

Financial mismanagement and declining enrollment are ringing a death knell for Detroit's schools. According to Detroit Public School Emergency Manager Robert Bobb, to close a $327 million budget deficit, he'll need to shut half of the city's campuses over the next two years.

Under the plan, the 142 current schools in the district would be reduced to 72 by the 2012-13 school year. What will happen to the students attending those schools? Bobb plans to shift them over to the remaining campuses, raising class sizes to 62 students per teacher.

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Joining ProPubica, The Texas Tribune, and other pioneers in the brave new world of nonprofit analysis-heavy journalism is the Hechinger Report, a new education-centered site from the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, a part of Columbia University's Teachers College.

Among its first offerings is a Q&A with Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers. The conversation focuses on the perception (and basically accepted fact) that teachers find themselves in the crosshairs of everyone with a stake in education reform.

Weingarten argues on behalf of teachers, as well as her union's practices, with some of her go-to defenses: Race to the Top applications are successful when state officials work with local unions. Charters are not the silver bullet for our education woes—some have proven to be very effective, but most are equivalent to standard public schools (or worse). And, what's missing from all of the reform hoopla is a reasonable system for training and evaluating teachers.

What struck me, however, was that she hit a note that echoed of the Newsweek column I blogged about last week. In it, Sharon Begley reported that poor research on teaching may be submarining teachers by sticking them with curricula that demand they conduct their classes using less effective methods.
Should we be doing more in terms of ensuring that every teacher is effective? Of course; that is what the union is trying to do, but we can’t do it alone. It’s also about what the curriculum looks like. In Finland and Japan, teachers can really work on their lessons and differentiate instruction for all children. We don’t have time for that here, so teachers ask for the tools they know they need, but instead of giving them the tools, [teachers] get vilified. Teachers want the conditions to do their jobs.

I sense that Weingarten has probably been saying a version of this point the entire time. Coupled with the findings reported by Begley, the argument hits a lot harder.

[via Romenesko]

Photo via.

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