Mike McMahon AUSD
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Gathered Articles of Interest


Public education was created based on certain principles. Public education evolved during the 1600s to 2002 with California's own public education history. As a result of public education financing along with CA public education legislative history, public education insitututions are struggling to maintain its core values. Together with judicial trends in public education and the role of government in public education you can get a sense of what it is like to be a school board member The biggest challenge we face as adults/parents is remembering it is supposed to be about the children.

As an elected school board official being able to integrate various points of view is crucial. Here are articles I have come across since being elected.

Role of Public Education/Government/Politics
Public Education Financing

Public Education Reform

No Child Left Behind

Race and Education


2004 Elections

Community Feedback on Local Issues

Role of Public Education/Government/Politics

In 2011 there was a multi-state initiative to challenge employment conditions in public education, as well as to introduce model legislation to reduce the local control of school boards. What is behind this coordinated effort? The answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its self-described legislative approach to education reads:
Across the country for the past two decades, education reform efforts have popped up in legislatures at different times in different places. As a result, teachers’ unions have been playing something akin to “whack-a-mole” — you know the game — striking down as many education reform efforts as possible. Many times, the unions successfully “whack” the “mole,” i.e., the reform legislation. Sometimes, however, they miss. If all the moles pop up at once, there is no way the person with the mallet can get them all. Introduce comprehensive reform packages. 

A popular president can shift the public perceptions regarding public education according to a new poll published by Education Next.

This 2009 report describes how the education system in the United States compares with education systems in the other G-8 countries--Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. Twenty-seven indicators are organized in five sections: (1) population and school enrollment; (2) academic performance (including subsections for reading, mathematics, and science); (3) context for learning; (4) expenditure for education; and (5) education returns: educational attainment and income. This report draws on the most current information about education from four primary sources: the Indicators of National Education Systems (INES) at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

A Field Poll shows how California voter perceptions have changed over the last thirty years.

A new policy brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education decries the "tunnel vision" the United States displays in the "global schoolhouse." Our competitors "eagerly compare, or benchmark, their performance and standards against each other -- and particularly against top performers." They "take their international assessment performance results seriously," and "take advantage of opportunities to compare policies and practices so that they can learn and improve." The United States, world leader in many areas, ignores opportunities to learn from its international peers in education. In the 1960s, data show the U.S. produced the greatest high school completion rates among 23 member nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It has since fallen to 18th out of 23, and from 1995 to 2005, the national college graduation rate fell from second to 15th. With recent globalization, American workers spend "dramatically" more time performing higher-level cognitive tasks that take problem-solving ability and effective communication with sophisticated tools. Much less time is spent in routine manual tasks, such as installing parts or packing items on assembly lines, and routine cognitive tasks, such as taking simple customer orders or maintaining inventory counts. Consequences of this are too important to ignore, the Alliance says.

Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's View toward the Public Schools 2007

According to the apple-or-coin test used in the Middle Ages, children should start school when they are mature enough for the delayed gratification and abstract reasoning involved in choosing money over fruit. In 15th- and 16th-century Germany, parents were told to send their children to school when the children started to act "rational." And in contemporary America, children are deemed eligible to enter kindergarten according to an arbitrary date on the calendar known as the birthday cutoff -- that is, when the state, or in some instances the school district, determines they are old enough.

According to the first-ever statewide poll of parents, a whopping 89 percent of California parents want students to receive comprehensive sex education that includes information about contraception and protection from sexually transmitted diseases a desire that remains uniform regardless of the parents' locale, religion, politics, race or education level.

There are vital relationships between public rhetoric and public policy in a democratic society, and education historian, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, outlines several reasons why current rhetoric emphasizes school failure without giving equal emphasis to the social failures that often surround the public schools. She thinks the true story is not that our schools have failed us. It is rather that we, as a society, have failed our schools. We have failed our schools because we have asked them to do impossible things. What might happen if we paid less attention to outcomes, as measured by test scores, and more attention to how children learn, which is one of the most important processes of education?

There is little debate about the importance of community and public involvement in public schools. Years of research have shown that parent and community involvement in schools improves student achievement. When parents and the wider community work with schools, students benefit in concrete and measurable ways. Student scores on standardized tests are higher. Where civic engagement in community affairs in general is high, teachers report higher levels of parental support and lower levels of student misbehavior. West Virginia Civic Index is first report issued to measure civic engagement. The 10 categories included in the Civic Index were developed by asking the public what they deemed crucial for a community in order to have a quality public education. The categories the public selected might surprise you. They were: education leadership of elected officials; tolerance and inclusiveness; active parents; strong civic organizations; performance data about the school/district; partnerships with higher education; knowledge of and voting for school board; active business community; youth involvement; and media coverage.

A 2007 study of the public's political values and attitudes by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press -- the most recent in a series of such reports dating back to 1987 -- finds a pattern of rising support since the mid-1990s for government action to help disadvantaged Americans. More Americans believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves, and that it should help more needy people even if it means going deeper into debt.

Technology Counts 2007 grades California in educational technology, and finds wide variationin the core areas of access, use, and capacity compared to other states. Here is another assessment of technology for California education. The Public Policy Institute of California published technology access for Californians in 2008,

Education policy discussions often assume that public school teachers are poorly paid. Typically absent in these discussions about teacher pay, however, is any reference to systematic data on how much public school teachers are actually paid, especially relative to other occupations. Because discussions about teacher pay rarely reference these data, the policy debate on education reform has proceeded without a clear understanding of these issues.

A 2006 Kettering Study: Public Thinking about Democracys Challenge: Reclaiming the Publics Role highlights the publics thinking when deliberating the importance of community life and civic skills, the role of religion and moral values in a democratic society, and barriers and opportunities for fuller citizen engagement in the political system.

Dan Walters and Peter Schrag review the evolving nature of the California state population and the lack of change of govermental institutions.

In this primer on public education, the Center on Education Policy has pulled together data, mostly from government sources, to answer these seven questions: (1) Where are the students? (2) Who are the students? (3) Who controls public education? (4) How are public schools funded? (5) How well are students achieving? (6) What is the public school teaching force like? (7) What other services do public schools provide?

In his book on school commercialism, Alex Molnar examines how various commercial initiatives -- from the advertising-driven Channel One, to exclusive vending machine contracts in school districts, to for-profit schools run by companies like the Edison Project and other market-centered charter schools -- threaten the future of American education.

Controversial issues in the classroom need to be handled with care. This six page document presents guidelines for a well balanced approach.

Tragically, public schools have become front lines in the culture war over homosexuality  and the biggest losers are the kids caught in the crossfire of incendiary rhetoric and bitter lawsuits.

In school districts across the nation, escalating conflicts involving sexual orientation in the curriculum, student clubs, speech codes and other areas of school life are undermining the educational mission of our schools. Media stories in the past two months alone have spotlighted bitter fights over these issues in Utah, Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, Idaho and Florida. Any notion of the public interest is often lost in the clash of world views across seemingly unbridgeable distances.

Can we do better? If we care about education and the future of the nation we must. That's why the First Amendment Center asked Wayne Jacobsen of BridgeBuilders, an organization that helps communities find common ground on religious issues, to help me create a road map for winning the peace in the fight over sexual orientation in schools. The drafting committee also included representatives from the Christian Educators Association International and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, two groups with widely divergent views on homosexuality, but with a shared commitment to civil discourse.

It took eight months to hammer out a statement of principles we could all support. But finally, on March 9, we released Public Schools and Sexual Orientation: A First Amendment framework for finding common ground. Two major educational organizations, the American Association of School Administrators and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, have endorsed the document. The guide does not prescribe a particular outcome, but rather proposes a process for reaching an agreement that all sides can support. All of the sponsoring groups have agreed to disseminate the guidelines widely and encourage schools to address these issues proactively.

In his book "Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming Our Democracy" David Mathews explores the loss of public ownership and discusses what might be done about it. The first thing that can be done to reconnect the public and the schools is to recognize that there are significant differences between the way professional educators and most school board members see problems, make decisions, and go about their work, on the one hand, and the way citizens-as-citizens view problems, make decisions, and go about their work, on the other. You can read the first chapter here.

It is the primary responsibility of schools to foster academic achievement. Schools do this by providing a high-quality instructional program, but also by paying attention to the needs of the whole child that influence academic achievement. To better prepare students to learn, schools should provide education in an environment that gives students the skills, opportunities and encouragement they need to adopt healthy lifestyles. This requires more than educating youth on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. Students should have access to healthy foods and beverages throughout the school day.

To help lay the groundwork for reforming California's faltering school system, more than 30 researchers nationwide have launched the largest independent investigation ever of how the state governs and finances education.

The California Research Bureau has prepared a report: High School Dropouts, Enrollment, and Graduation Rates in California. This report examines the various definitions for high school dropouts and graduates used by the California Department of Education. The report further compiles statewide data on high school enrollment by race and ethnicity, and provides details on enrollment data for the 10 largest school districts in the state. This report also summarizes the findings from previous educational studies on high school dropout rates and graduation rates. Each study analyzed in this report provides a slightly different method to calculate a graduation rate. The differences are described. Nevertheless, the major results appear consistent: 1) African American and Latino students are less likely to graduate from high school compared to Asian or White students. 2) Between one quarter and one third of all students fail to graduate from public high schools in California.

With the potential implementation of Prop 49 After School funding, school districts need to better understand the connection to the student and families. This Harvard study "Focus on Families! How to Build and Support Family-Centered Practices in After School" is a critical resource for after school providers looking to create or expand an existing family engagement program. Program leaders, local decision makers, funders, and others interested in promoting good family involvement practice will also find the guide vital to their work. The guide provides a research base for why family engagement matters, concrete program strategies for engaging families, case studies of promising family engagement efforts, and an evaluation tool for improving family engagement practices

Governor Schwarzenegger stinging defeat in the 2005 Special Election may actully help him win the 2006 election after he convinced a long time Democrat to join his team.

Typically, Democrats are the ones who questioned whether the position of top elected official. However, with the Recall Election of Governor Schwarzenegger, Republicans face some challenges from within their own party. This David Crane article details the 2006 dynamics for Republican party.

When it comes to evolution, many school boards find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. School districts have been sued both for rejecting and endorsing calls to include the controversy over evolution in their biology curriculum. Interestingly, as far as science is concerned, there is no controversy: molecular science and the fossil record continue to support the theory of evolution. This article explains how school boards can honor diverse perspectives without compromising scientific principles or winding up in court.

2006 saw voters in 14 states decide a wide variety of education policy issues.

Universal preschool? Look forward a lot of discusion about this topic if Rob Reiner, brings an initiative to ballot in 2006 for universal preschool paid for by taxing the wealthiest Californians. Here is an Los Angeles Times guest opinion on the topic.

This June 2005 Sacramento Bee Opinion Piece reviews how the deomgraphics trends of the next ten years and charter schools will impact public education.

This Sacramento Bee Editorial reviews State Senate leader Perata's bold proposals for reforming California's public schools..

This Sacramento Bee Editorial reviews State Superintendent of Education Jack O'Connell's State of Education address.

2005 Legislation affecting K-12 education.

Statewide textbook adoption is the process by which 21 states dictate the textbooks that schools and districts can use. This executive study claims the process is extremely flawed. For background on California's history of textbook adoption, read this. In May,2005 the California Assembly passed a bill requiring textbook not exceed 200 pages.

What role does discipline in the classroom play in student achievement? Here is an article by Jay Mathews, Washington Post Education columnist that reviews a study called "Teaching Interrupted".

Because teacher pay is by far the largest part of most school districts' operating budgets (often 50 to 70 percent), it is compelling to ask if those dollars can be linked to improving teacher quality and, ultimately, student performance. Here is a review of emerging trends around teacher compensation.

Unintended consequences. The legislature passes a law requiring seat belts for buses puts school districts in a tough position.

When schools get involved in providing non-traditional curriculum, problems can emerge. For example, providing anti-drug education needs to be carefully considered.

Local control or State micro-managing schools? You be the judge.

The burst of dot.com bubble had a significant impact on the economy. But due to govermental actions in the 1990s and 2000/01, the State and local government will be paying for it for may years to come.

Governor Schwarzenegger reaffirms his commitment to standards after the State Board of Education begins to complain.

Governor Schwarzenegger created a commission to identify issues and proposed recommendations to improve California governemental practices. Here the State webpage for issues and recommendations related to education. Their first public hearing on education was held September 9, 2004.

Class size reduction is a favorite piece of legislation that everyone likes. Of course perception and reality maybe something different

What is role of the federal government in public education? This policy reivew from the Cato Institute examines this question.

"From First to Worst" is the title of a recent PBS special on California public education. Here is a set of recommendations to remedy the situation.

Religion in the public classroom have been a source of contention. In 1995, Richard Riley issued guidelines to all public educators in the United States.

Should a school district allow the pledge of allegiance to be used in schools when it contains the words "under God"? Certainly, this appeal before the Supreme Court makes for strange bedfellows.

Meantime, another California school made headlines when the teaching of the Declaration of Independence was challenged.

Should a high school journalist have the right to print stories about other teenagers with alternative lifestyles? Read this Los Angeles Times article that covers the dismissal of a high school journalist for writing and discovering the identifies of three students.

Should newly elected Governor Schwarzenegger abandon the educational reform implemented by past Governors Wilson and Davis? Here is a is a one point of view.

Repeal of a school employees job protection law is one of the political footballs tied to 2004 budget negotiations. The question is when it comes to school reform Who is really for the kids?.

Is liberalism abandoning education? Here is a one point of view .

Can you take the public out of public education? Read this point of view.

The Seven Stupid Arguments Against Programs for the Gifted is presented here.

Can a school board justify an investment in communicating to the public? Here is one point of view.

What role do unions play in today's political landscape? One point of view elevates unions to the fourth branch of government. However, sometimes things do not always work in the initiative process. For example, in early 2003, CTA together with Rob Reiner attempted to place an initiative on the November 2003 ballot. After a less than positive editorial the $2.5 million effort was halted.

We know teacher unions are against. But do unions stand for? Here is a Los Angeles Times editorial examining the leadership role for California's largest local teacher union - Los Angeles Unified. This 1993 article examines the state of teacher unions.

A recap of Collective Bargaining Policies for Teachers by State.

A useful guide to help school officials understand their responsibilities to protect the rights of gay and lesbian students.

Where is the line when it comes to the rights of students to publish materials in a school newspaper? What about a high school male wearing makeup? Trying to prevent teenagers from eating candy by banning machine sales, think again. Or how block scheduling impacts learning for older children.

Public Education Financing

Public support of raising taxes to pay for public education is waning according to 2009 PPIC survey.

This report tracks population growth and employee compensation growth from 2000 to 2008 for each California school district.

Funding of education is always an issue. Depending on what side of the argument you are determines what measure you use. Here is one measure that California in the middle of the pack.

Here is a historical perspective on how financing of California public education evolved over the past three decades including the Serrano decision, Prop 13 and Prop 98. Given the current system, further complication arise due to the volatility in state revenues, making budgeting/funding extremely difficult at a state and local level.

A recent study uncovered a hidden teacher spending gap within school districts. This Sacramento Bee editorial discusses the implications for California.

2008 Fingertip Facts on Education in California

Besides unfunded liabilities to teachers pension, there is another ticking time bomb: Health care benefits for retirees.

A New York court rules that the state should spend an additional $14 billion for New York City students.

The Massachuets Supreme Court court ruling that Massachuets is adequately funding Boston schools despite wide variances between school districts.

Funding authority for education and accountability for student achievement would seem to be function carried out at the local level. However, the state constitution and legal system see it another way.

As states struggle to implement standards/accountability mandates, methods of funding and equity come under fire. In California, the legislature created a Quality Education Commission with purpose of determining what is correct funding level for education. In January, 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger proposed elimination of the Quality Education Commission before it ever was convened. Here is State Superintendent Jack OConnell's press release to that proposal.

Another funding concept gaining visibility is "weighted student funding".

In this San Francisco OpEd piece a high school teacher comments on California's financing of public education.

One of the primary roles of a school board is to pass budget that certifies that the district can met its fiscal obligation in the three years. Unfortunately, some school districts have created untenable budget problems by approving benefits package (especially for retirees) that show up years after they have left. For example, in 2004 Fresno's School Board was not able to certify its ability to meet financial obligations due mounting retiree benefit costs.

Public Education Reform

The last few years have brought much talk of “21st century skills” but little certainty about why and how skill demands are actually changing. Will students really need better or different skills to succeed in life and work in the 21st century? If so what trends are behind such changes? And what specific kinds of knowledge and skills will be most important? This report attempts to answer these questions.

This report examines the issues surrounding seniority for teachers.

If the trends presented in this report are correct, in ten years high school students will be carrying mobile devices that will be powerful then today's desktop computer. What are implications for the delivery of public education.

In public schools nationwide, teacher effectiveness is not measured, recorded or used to inform decision-making in any meaningful way. The result, according to The Widget Effect, is a system where teachers are treated as interchangeable parts.

With the election of Presdient Obama and appointment of Arne Duncan, there is a movement for greater accountability. On of the measures being discussed is the development of common stadards for all states. In July, 2009 a draft document of commons standards was leaked. 

Over the past four decades observers and stakeholders in public education have engaged in a continuing discussion about what is needed to arrest what is perceived to be a decline in public school systems and what is required to serve the needs of disadvantaged children.

On many issues of policy the record of national teachers' unions has been clear. They have a long and honorable history of supporting an end to discrimination in education, they have argued for an end to segregation, for measures to provide equal treatment for women and girls and for assistance to students with disabilities.

But in one major area -public school reform - the record of unions is far less clear. At times, union leaders have treated the measures advocated by others to close the gaps between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers as inimical to the interests of teachers.

Despite a doubling of per-pupil funding over the past 15 years, U.S. schools have had scant improvement in productivity, writes Tom Vander Ark in a policy paper from the American Enterprise Institute.

A new report from the Association of Childhood Education International has practical steps that teachers can follow to implement anti-bullying programs and stem "the tide of the international plague known as bullying."

Before we decide how to reform public education, perhaps we should agreed on what What Is the 21st Century Mission for Our Public Schools? and then focus on the results we want.

In this Brookings Institution paper, Hugh Price examines the successful tactics the U.S. military uses to engage and train young people -- and offers provocative new strategies for schools.

Today's teacher contracts reflect an earlier era in America: the age of the rise of industrial unions, during the 19th and 20th centuries, when a factory system rigidly governed work outputs. A panel of teachers have proposed an alternative.

Leading for Learning, 2006 examines leadership in education, a topic of critical concern at a time of ever-increasing expectations for schools.

Review of Reform for the Last Ten years examines reform efforts over the ten years.

A report, released by the National Center for Education Statistics, surveyed 9,000 graduates who received their bachelors degrees in various disciplines in the 1992-93 school debunks several long-held views on teacher pay, turnover, and job satisfaction.

Across the country, states and districts are struggling to attract, support, and retain high-quality teachers in the classroom. The limitations of the traditional salary schedule in attracting and keeping good teachers have prompted many policymakers to search for alternative methods of compensation. In this paper, the Center for American Progress examines teacher compensation policies in charter and private schools for lessons to help traditional public schools more effectively draw and keep high-quality teachers.

A September, 2006 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Publics Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released.

According a study commissioned by the California Business for Education Excellence, approximately $1.25 billion in state public education funding provided to schools to help improve student academic performance has yielded little if any academic improvement, even though these schools met the state Academic Performance Index (API) requirements to exit the improvement program as successful. This analysis comes just as the state is set to carry out the agreed upon terms of last year's SB 1133 (Torlakson) and pour nearly $3 billion more into a similar program.

What if the solution to American students' stagnant performance levels and the wide achievement gap between white and minority students wasn't more money, smaller schools, or any of the reforms proposed in recent years, but rather a new education system altogether? That is the conclusion from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. The Executuve Summary contains numerous recommendations on starting over. Here is a rebuttal to the study's findings.

Here is a 2006 research paper on reform efforts on closing the achievement gap in California.

A new position paper on accountability, "From Surviving to Thriving: Strategies for Success in a High-Stakes Accountability System" takes stock of Colorado's accountability system and its effect on classroom practice and student achievement; and they call upon policy makers to objectively assess this system and make the necessary changes to ensure that the hard work taking place in classrooms across Colorado.

This study reviews how poorly California is succeeding providing college access to the State's children.

Which educational programs have been successfully evaluated in valid scientific research? The Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, has created a free website called the Best Evidence Encyclopedia (The BEE).

Creating Community Based Schools is the focus of this report. Innovative cross-boundary leaders from education, local government, public, private and community-based agencies, business and other sectors are organizing themselves and their communities to create and sustain community schools. Leaders in these communities recognize that helping all young people succeed means providing them with as much support and as many pathways to success as possible.

School uniforms, long a staple in Catholic schools and foreign classrooms, have emerged in the past decade as the most visible emblem of America's educational reform movement.

Washington Post Jay Mathews adovcates for "Let's Teach to the Test".

A small but growing movement called "unschooling" is discussed in a blog and February, 2006 CNN article.

This article outlines a number of misunderstandings and disputes that have the potential to divide school reform advocates and stall progress.

The Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency (EDDRA). EDDRA is dedicated to analyzing reports, dispelling rumors, rebutting lies about public education in the United States.

What schools do and what resources they have for doing it can make a powerful difference in the achievement of students from low-income backgrounds, according to the initial findings from a new EdSource study.

At first glance, their talk seems plain and to the point: "failing schools," "caring about education" and "education as war." In contrast, education progressives befuddle the public with "authentic means of assessment," "educating the whole child" and "triangulated learning." Corporate America has their view.

In June, 2005, the 5th District Court of Appeal ruled school districts across the state will have a much higher standard when deciding how to make room at their schools for charter school students.

In May, 2005, the California Legislative Analyst Office prepared a report on Improving High School: A Strategic Approach.

What happens when the forces of reform meet a State and local funding disaster? Read this teacher's account of small school reform in the troubled Oakland school distict.

Fact to Consider:A significant plurality (45 percent) of the public believe the quality of a student's teacher is the single most important factor in determining his or her achievement, far ahead of parent involvement (29 percent), facilities and resources (12 percent), or the quality of the principal (3 percent).

Source: Americans' Commitment to Quality Teaching in Public Schools, Findings from a National Survey conducted by Hart-Harris for the Teaching Commission (March 2005).

Education Partnership has issued a new report in the hope of raising public awareness, to facilitate a constructive dialogue, and to change the focus and scope of collective bargaining in public education. Here is an executive summary.

Standardized testing for English Language Learner is challenged in a suit by a California school district.

In dealing with this era of accountability, the overemphasis of single score or measure of achievement may not produce the results school boards are looking for. This Executive Summary is from the paper: "Buried Treasure - Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data" from the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

When mainstream media picks up on an education issue you know it is a problem. In this US News & World article the topic of teen reading is covered.

This article contends reforming our schools means reforming the teachers unions.

Exposed by the tougher reporting requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, beleaguered public school systems are beginning to register credible and encouraging academic gains. This article offers a deceptively simple approach to making academic gains sustainable.

Here is one assessment of how well California is doing in eduction from the Pacific Research Institute.

The Emancipatory Promise of Charter Schools is title of this provocative book. The editors argue that charter schools are playing a powerful role in reviving participation in public education, expanding opportunities for progressive methods in public school classrooms, and generating new energy for community-based, community-controlled school initiatives.

Over the past fifteen years, charter schools and teachers unions have battled in state legislatures, the courts, and the media. But with increasing frequency, the two groups are facing each other in the everyday operation of schools. Will on-the-ground experiences change charter schools or unions? Will existing conflicts only spread, or will direct experience lead to some moderation within each party? "The Future of Charter Schools and Teachers Unions: Results of a Symposium" reviews what lies ahead.

Total public school enrollment in the United States peaked at 46.1 million in 1971 as the youngest members of the baby boom generation arrived in the nation's classrooms. Enrollment gradually dropped off, to 39.2 million in fall 1984, then began to increase once again, reaching 48.2 million -- a 23% jump -- in fall 2002. Examining data for the decade of most concentrated change -- between the 1993-94 and 2002-03 school years -- this report finds that Hispanics accounted for 64% of the students added to public school enrollment.

The reform movement is taking place on various levels: federal, state and local. The policies that emerge reflect a "view or perception" of how education operates. Movements of Mind: The Matrix, Metaphors, and Re-imagining Education explores the educational metaphors that inform our policymakers.

What is the value of self esteem in an educational setting? This Scientific American article contends that too much emphasis is placed on the importance of self esteem.

Is gender becoming the next achievment gap issue? This January 2006 Newsweek article explores the problem boys are encountering in the educational system.

This Washington Post article looks at the student performance in Math compared to the rest of the world.

The dual and desirable educational goals of student equity and student excellence have often been in a serious struggle for scarce resources. This article explores the need to nurture the gifted minority in their pursuit of excellence.

Many public schools across the country are banning religious music from their holiday festivities. A survey found that 83 percent of you believe that religious holiday music has a place in public schools, while 17 percent would rather leave the Holy out of that O Holy Night. Jeanne Allen explores the debate in this article, and explains why education reform may just be at the center of it.

One of the most controversial movements in educational reform is VOUCHERS. In this scholarly study, you can examine the public policy implications when ideology trumps evidence.

Here is an essay from the Dean of Columbia Teachers College on the conflicting challenges of educational reform in a new economy.

API and AYP scores are released and everyone is scratching their heads. Sacramento Bee columinst Peter Schrag comments on the confusion.

In his first State of the Education in California, State Superintendent Jack O'Connell focuses on improving high schools. At a local level, Los Angeles Unified School District considered changes to graduation requirements.

One method of reform is using the courts to get states, school districts and schools to abide by the law. However, there is another side of the judicial system that appears to be draining resources from the classroom. Frivilous lawsuits are costing public education substanial amounts of money and resources. This California School Board Association magazine article, Legally Bound, examines this problem.Publicly funded education is under attack in Canada also. Here is a discussion of why public education is fundamental to a democratic society.

Here is a commentary on the role of public discussion in public education.

No Child Left Behind

In 2008, the Department of Education has developed a new accountability report card for each state. Here is California's.

Here is aStudy Matching State Standards to NAEP Criteria used for NCLB measurement of proficient on a state by state basis.

Here is a 2006 research paper on whether NCLB is working.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all students be proficient by 2014. Some policy makers think that this goal could be achieved if only schools had more time. A new paper, by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, and Tamara Wilder concludes that there is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup can achieve the NCLB requirement of proficiency on "challenging" standards, because no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution. The authors show that even the highest scoring countries in the world cannot meet this standard, nor could they meet a standard that required only basic skills of all students. The paper concludes by showing how policy makers could formulate expectations of realistic improvement across the entire distribution of student ability.

The Center of Education Policy has released its fourth annual report on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Summary and Recommendations section identifies the most up-to-date information about the law's implementation and shares the opportunities and challenges that it has presented for states and districts.

Faith based organizations speaks to public morality and the ways our nation should bring justice and compassion into its civic life. This call to justice is central to needed reform in public education, Americas largest civic institution, where enormous achievement gaps alert us that some children have access to excellent education while other children are left behind. This document examines ten moral concerns in the laws implementation.

The National Education Association filed a federal lawsuit against No Child Left Behind in April, 2005. The press release along with reaction is summarized here.

In this March 9th Los Angeles Times article the deal stuck between Federal government and California to reduce the number of school districts identified as needing improvement is covered.

Standardized testing for English Language Learner is challenged in a suit by a California school district.

In this opinion piece the author belives NCLB is just plain and it does not make sense to "fully fund" a bad law.

Utah could prove to be the battleground between State and Federal role in education. Here is the article.

Here is a provcative analysis of NCLB. NCLB: Conspiracy, Compliance, or Creativity?

How can Democrats take on No Child Left Behind legislation without challenging the premise of the legislation? Here is a one point of view.

What is the right level of funding for NCLB? This editorial presents an opinion that fully funding NCLB actually is a mistake.

Here is one point of view on the testing aspects of NCLB.

Exposed by the tougher reporting requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, beleaguered public school systems are beginning to register credible and encouraging academic gains. This article offers a deceptively simple approach to making academic gains sustainable.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing have drafted a set of principles for assessment practices under NCLB.

The Education Commission of the States published their 2004 survey of NCLB implementation progress.

No Child Left Behind legislation was meant to give the poorest students an opportunity to move to higher performing schools. Here is what is actually happening.

Race and Education

Instead of seeing immigrant students as a drain on our resources, we need to recognize the resources they bring into our classrooms,writes Eileen Gale Kugler.

Here is an article where a school district is sued for voluntary using race in helping parents choose a school.

Here is an academic study of race and the achievement gap. Here is a 2009 study of racial achievement and its impact on global competition.

Princeton published a doucment on School Readiness. Here is the introduction from School Readiness: Closing Racial and Ethnic Gaps.

Do tests like the PSAT and SAT serve as barriers for minorities to higher education? Should the UC drop out of National Scholarship program? Here is an article that discusses the topic.

Here is an interview with Abigail Thernstrom, author of the book: No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (Simon & Schuster, October 2003).

Here is a high level summary of the book: No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (Simon & Schuster, October 2003).

Here is an opinion piece on the role of race and discipline in schools.

Here is a San Francisco new article about Advanced Placement test taking results for the state of California, particularily as it affects minorities.

Pick a college that cares if your child graduates is the topic of this Washington Post article.

Miscellaneous Issues

Ever since Columbine, everyone is doing everything to prevent future occurences. Here is an Sacramento Bee article on how active student involvement averted a dangerous situation.

As teachers enter the classroom who have been immersed technology, it just a matter of time before technology get used in different ways. For example, this site teacherspayteachers.com is attempting to start an eBay for lesson plans.

Here is the graduation speech from Alameda High School 2004.

Miscellaneous Policy Issues

The system of providing health coverage via the employer is failing. Here is an alternative solution to government sponsored health coverage.


Graduates from Encincal High school are making a difference in this world. I am very proud of daughter's intern work on this project at the University of California in 2006. In 2007, she worked as an USDA intern working on a project on biofuels research.

We live in an ever shrinking world. Here is an article about demographics trends in the world.

In this era of global competitiveness has created a sense of urgency regarding the education of future generations. Here is a report card on California higher education system.

In this New York Times article the trends that are flattening the world are presented and why we need to graudate more children from college not high school.

Titled a "Road to Nowhere", this East Bay Express article details the development of the Ron Cowan Expresswa

2004 Election

Blue State? Red State? Purple State? 2005 Voter Profile for California

In a Los Angeles Times article, Democratic Presidental nominee John Kerry May 6th speech on education may give the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers some problems. However, others feels the proposed reform is the right message.

Can George W Bush be called the "Education President"? This article makes the case for such a designation.

In a post 9/11 era, Democrats need to refocus their message or slip further into being a long term minority party. Here is one opinion on what steps can be taken.

After the 2004 Presidental race, Democrats had resolved not to let it happen again. In early 2005, wins on Social Security reform and the defense of the filibuster gave Democrats hope. What is behind their success? This article examines the hottest new trend in politics - framing.

Community Feedback on Local Issues

Comments Regarding Proposed Charter Schools
Comments Regarding to Kindergarten Roundup Process

Comments Regarding Proposed Budget Reductions for 20080/9

Comments Regarding Proposed Budget Reductions for 2007/08

Comments Regarding Proposed Budget Reductions for 2006/07

Comments Regarding Proposed Budget Reductions for 2005/06

Comments on 2005/06 Calendar

Comments on 2003/04 Negotiations with AEA

Comments on 2004/05 Calendar

Comments Regarding Adoption of 2003/04 Calendar

Comments Regarding Proposed Budget Reductions for 2003/04

Comments Regarding Layoffs Sent to All Teachers

Comments on AUSD Strategic Plan

Comments on Placement of the Jet in Front of Encinal High School

Blueprint for Community Engagement - Ford Foundation, 2008