Thursday, November 20, 2008

Venice High School Pool

Staff from the District's Joint Use program and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks recently held a community meeting to update the public about the status of the Venice High School pool.

The pool has been closed since the end of September after leaks were discovered and is currently undergoing a series of inspections.

The Department of Recreation and Parks will be updating their website weekly, or as information comes in, in an effort to keep the Venice community informed about the status of the facility.

You can visit for more information.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

My re-election decision

Last week, I announced that after a great deal of thought and reflection, I had decided not to seek reelection to the LAUSD Board of Education. This was an incredibly tough decision for me. Over my seven plus years as a Board Member, I’ve been able to make many important changes for our schools, from making our schools healthier places for students to working to bring families back to their neighborhood public schools. There is still much work to do, and I am committed to serving Board District 4 and the entire LAUSD family until my final day as a Board Member. And, come July 1, I plan to continue my life-long focus on education as I seek new challenges and opportunities to improve the lives of children.

I wanted to share the statement I released regarding my decision (pasted below). And, I wanted to personally thank you for your continued interest in what’s going on in Board District 4. Please continue to check back here often because as I said we’ve got plenty of work to do to keep moving LAUSD forward!


Los Angeles – LAUSD Board Member Marlene Canter issued the following statement today regarding her decision about the upcoming Board of Education election:

"After much thought and reflection, I have decided not to seek reelection to the LAUSD Board of Education.

"It has been a very difficult decision because as a Board Member, I have been able to lead important changes in a wide range of areas. I'm very proud of the accomplishments we've been able to achieve together, and which have set the stage for larger gains by LAUSD in the years ahead:
  • Forming the iDesign Schools Division with its focus on outside partnerships and school site innovation and district innovation;
  • Bringing Westside and Valley families back to LAUSD neighborhood schools;
  • Leading the nation in implementing a series of fundamental changes to school nutrition;
  • Setting new standards and approving more charters than any other school district in the country;
  • Helping direct district-wide efforts to build desperately needed facilities, while changing the culture of how the District does business;
  • Implementing instructional changes that have helped our elementary schools to improve at a rate much faster than the State average;
  • Leading the charge to recruit the best and brightest employees and bringing focus to the need for relevant and high quality professional development; and
  • Setting the path for LAUSD’s sustainability efforts including putting cleaner school buses on our streets.
"While this experience has been immensely rewarding, it is time for me to seek new challenges and avenues to improve the lives of children. I have spent my entire adult life doing just this -- as a teacher, co-founder and co-CEO of a teacher training company, and as a Board Member. And I will continue to do so in my last eight months on the Board and in the new opportunities and challenges that await me in July and beyond.

"The knowledge that we accomplish nothing by ourselves is one of the many lessons that I will take with me from my time as a Board Member. Whether it has been forging better relationships with Sacramento or creating new partnerships with education non-profits and community groups, collaborating with outside change agents has been essential. I will continue to focus on working with those who are bringing unique and meaningful improvements to education."
# # #

I am also including links to a few news stories about my announcement:,0,1855717.story

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Local District 3 Parent Community Advisory Committee (PCAC) Town Hall Meeting

The Local District 3 Parent Community Advisory Council will be hosting a town hall meeting to discuss current issues, meet district staff and inform parents on how to make a positive impact on their child's education.

Thursday, November 13
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Webster Middle School
11330 W. Graham Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Southwest Valley Middle School Night

Board Members Marlene Canter and Tamar Galatzan will be co-hosting an information night featuring Southwest Valley middle schools.

Wednesday, October 29th
6:30 - 8:00 pm
Woodland Hills Academy
20800 Burbank Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Featuring presentations by the following middle schools:

Columbus - Hale - Hesby Span - Mulholland - Northridge - Portola - Woodland Hills Academy -

In addition, the LAUSD Magnet Office will be on hand once again to inform parents about their middle school options thorugh the CHOICES program and to answer questions about the November 14th application release.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Board Member Canter to Host Middle School Night

Thank you to all the families who joined me at the Middle School Night event last night at Emerson Middle School. It was very heartening to see so many parents exploring their public school options.

Because the transition between elementary and middle school can be daunting for students (and their parents!), Board Member Marlene Canter would like to invite you participate in the yearly Middle School Night event.

Join us in conversation with principals, counselors, parents and students to learn about the programs offered at your child's neighborhood middle school and other middle school options.

Tuesday, October 21st

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Emerson Middle School

1650 Selby Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Featuring presentations by the following middle schools:

Emerson - Marina del Rey - Mark Twain - Paul Revere -

Webster - Westside Leadership - Wright

In addition, the LAUSD Magnet Office will be on hand to inform parents about thier middle school options thorugh the CHOICES program and to answer questions about the November 14th application release.

Monday, August 18, 2008

12th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival

The 12th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will be taking place September 12th to the 19th at the historic Egyptian theater.

Over the past 11 years, the film festival's youth program has hosted thousands of elementary to high school age students in an effort to expose them to different cultures and enhance their knowledge about the world around them through film.

This year Diego Luna, the renowned Mexican actor and filmmaker will present five exceptional films and guide students in an open discussion where they will have a dialogue about their reactions to the film.

If you have any questions, or would like to have your students participate, please contact

Monday, August 04, 2008


The Los Angeles Unified School District is partnering with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Associated General Contractors of California, Los Angeles World Airports and the Port of Los Angeles to host the third annual California Construction Expo 2008.

Representatives throughout the construction industry will gather for a full-day of activities to foster business relationships, attend workshops to explore innovation and best practices, and experience new tools and equipment during this year's California Construction Expo focusing on "green building."

In its effort to cultivate a skilled labor force for public sector construction jobs, California Construction Expo will provide free admission to individuals seeking a career in construction. Labor Trade Unions and worker support organizations will be on hand to facilitate access and guidance to construction apprenticeship training.

Workshops will be held throughout the morning on topics from project management of green buildings to how to work with public agencies. The Expo will also feature a workshop for students looking to start a career in construction after graduation.

This event provides construction industry professionals and others an opportunity to do business with public agencies. The Expo is an important part of the District’s effort to attract the contractor capacity necessary to complete its $20.3 billion New School Construction and Modernization Program. To register for the California Construction Expo 2008 or for more information, visit

WHEN: Thursday, August 21, 2008
7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Los Angeles Convention Center
West Hall B
1201 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brentwood Science Magnet Raising Funds for Music & Arts Education

Parents at Brentwood Science Magnet have organized an online auction to raise funds to support vital programs at the school including music and arts education.

Please visit to check out the auction and support a good cause!

The auction closes on July 28.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Board of Education Approves LMU Family of Schools Partnership

On Tuesday June 8, the Board of Education approved a landmark agreement outlining the partnership terms for the Loyola Marymount Family of Schools in Westchester.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a one-year initial agreement with Loyola Marymount University to begin partnering with five Westchester schools on reform efforts. The agreement will focus on planning and transition in the first phase of a multi-phased initiative. During this upcoming school year, LMU will work with teachers, parents, community members and other stakeholders to transition schools into local decision-making models and to develop the human capital necessary for further phases of the work.

Part of the District's iDesign Schools initiative (formerly known as the Innovation Division), the LMU Family of Schools is a partnership designed to empower parents, increase community engagement, improve student achievement and graduation rates. Joining the iDesign Division grants schools increased flexibility and exemption from District policies in exchange for greater accountability.

The schools partnering with LMU include Westchester High School, Orville Wright Middle School’s community and magnet programs and Cowan, Kentwood and Westport Heights Elementary Schools.

The partnership with LMU will connect our parents and teachers with LMU’s expertise and enable us to accelerate achievement for our students. I want to thank Loyola Marymount University and the community for helping to build a model network of support for the schools in the Westchester area.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Physical Education IS a Priority!

At Tuesday's Board meeting, with a huge turnout, we unanimously adopted a PE motion that I authored and introduced with Board Members Tamar Galatzan and Julie Korenstein. This motion is the fourth in a series of student health related motions I have authored, the first being banning the sale of soda in our schools, then the sale of junk food and thirdly improving the nutritional quality of foods served in our cafeterias.

With the PE motion, my aim was to raise awareness about the ongoing problem of childhood obesity, and to send a message to my colleagues, the LAUSD leadership and the community, that physical education IS a priority. Both non-compliance with state law and large class sizes – upwards of 80 students in some cases – are unacceptable to me. My immediate intent with this motion is to ensure that students receive the PE program that the law requires and eventually to reduce PE class sizes. In light of the recent budget cuts, I wanted to have as perfect knowledge as possible about the cost impacts of such an action, which is why I asked the Superintendent to bring a cost analysis of the class size reductions back to the Board in September.

Thanks to all the supporters - parents, students, teachers, health advocates who came out to support this motion! Your efforts helped us win this important vote!

Here are the highlights of the motion:

- Educate us (new Board members, Superintendent, leadership) on the importance of physical activity to both health and student achievement
- Remind us of the CA Ed Code mandates regarding physical education
- Establish new transparencies around our physical education program implementation at our school site by including such data in our District and School Accountability Report Cards
- Adopt the CA Dept of Education’s standards for PE (Physical Education Model Content Standards for California Public Schools K-12
- Ensure that the physical education facilities are designed, developed, and constructed according to the California Department of Education Guide to School Site Analysis and Development
- Call for an annual report on compliance with this motion and the state law
- Ask the Superintendent to bring us a plan for decreasing class size in PE which in some of secondary schools are as large as 80 students a class

Monday, July 07, 2008


As summer vacation begins for most LA Unified students, it is important that parents continue to encourage students to read.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is once again launching the Books of Summer Reading Program in an effort to keep students' minds engaged in learning.

Students who read a minimum of four approved books over the summer and write a report for each can enter into the Books of Summer contest. Students at every grade level are invited to participate and every participant will receive a prize.

For more information visit the LAUSD Books of Summer website to get the reading lists, entry forms and other important information including deadlines.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Congratulations Class of 2008!

The Board of Education celebrated the graduating Class of 2008 this morning during the Board's annual meeting. Several students from throughout the District were invited to speak before the Board to share their experiences as LAUSD students.

We all know that the District faces many challenges, but it was refreshing to take the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of a small sample of this year's more than 20,000 LAUSD graduates. Each student reflected on their experience and expressed their gratitude to the teachers and staff members who have supported them throughout their academic years and made a difference in their lives.

During the meeting I had the pleasure of meeting Kelvin Batiste, a recent graduate of Hollywood High School's Performing Arts Magnet program. Kelvin will be attending college in the fall and hopes to study theater/acting. Kelvin was thankful for the opportunity of being able to attend a program focusing on his passion - the performing arts - and for having a great mentor, Mr. Kenneth Martinez.

Follow the link below to watch video of the students addressing the Board:

LAUSD Teachers of the Year

Ten LA Unified teachers have recently been named LAUSD Teachers of the Year for the 2008-2009 school year.

I would like to congratulate Ms. Shari Siegler from the Westchester-Emerson Community Adult School in Board District 4 for being one of the teachers receiving this honor.

Ms. Siegler has been a teacher for 31 years and has been teaching English at Westchester-Emerson Community Adult School for the last 22 years.

We know that the quality of the teacher in the classroom has the single biggest impact on student performance and I commend Ms. Siegler for her commitment and dedication to her students.

The other nine honorees include Margaret (Peg) Cagle from Lawrence Middle School and Gifted Magnet in Chatsworth, Kathie Yonemura from Hesby Oaks in Encino, Jose Navarrao from Sylmar High School, Karile Baltrusaitis from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, Darryl Newhouse from Foshay Learning Center in Los Angeles, Christine Blackwell from 232nd Place Elementary in Carson, Zitlalpilli Luna from Glenn Hammond Curtis Middle School, Tracey Washington from Gardena Early Education Center, and Efrain Nava from Dana Middle School in San Pedro.

These 10 teachers will now compete against other outstanding educators for the L.A. County Teachers of the Year Award. Best of luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Delivering a Quality Education in Schools of Every Size

When it comes to education reform, what change will have the biggest impact on student achievement? This question was before the School Board on Tuesday as we discussed a resolution to transform large LAUSD schools in to schools of approximately 500 students.

I feel very strongly that the size of a school is far less important than the quality of the teachers and the principal at that school. I also feel that any large scale transformation requires a thorough, thoughtful analysis. Before I could commit to breaking down all of our large schools into smaller schools, I needed to know: Are schools of 500 too small to offer students everything we want and need to provide? What is the right number that achieves both a sense of personalization and improved student outcomes? How much will the changes cost and what do we forgo by using our resources to make schools smaller? How do we ensure that schools have the right conditions – from quality teaching staff and a strong principal to rigorous curriculum – for increased student achievement in a smaller setting and in every setting?

Tuesday’s debate was long and in the end, I was pleased that the authors of the resolution listened to my concerns and accepted amendments from Board Member Galatzan and me to do the requisite analysis and planning before declaring unequivocally that LAUSD will be transformed into a district of small schools by 2020. I look forward to receiving the Superintendent’s analysis in December and hearing his recommendations for making large schools smaller, where it makes sense.

I also look forward to the pilot phase, which will begin no later than 2010, focus on high priority schools and large middle schools, and which will be guided by the results of the Superintendent’s analysis. I know from my business career that you always start small, learn from your mistakes, and then scale up if the results warrant it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2008-09 Budget Update

Yesterday, in the face of the Governor’s unconscionable cuts to education, my colleagues and I had the unwelcome task of cutting approximately $400 million from the budget for the coming school year. I know that the Superintendent and his team went to great lengths to propose cuts that would be least harmful to students, but the sheer magnitude of the cuts means that everyone will feel the impact. My vote to approve the budget cuts reflected my fiduciary responsibility to deliver a balanced budget, and in no way endorses the Governor’s lack of value for public education. I urge all of us to continue ringing the bell in Sacramento and sending the message that public education needs investment, not cuts.

To read more about the Board’s actions, click here.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Budget Town Hall Meeting

As you probably already know, the District is facing budget cuts of at least $460-million as a result of the Governor's budget proposal.

The Superintendent presented his budget proposal to the Board of Education this afternoon. The Board will hold several meetings to discuss the Superintendent's budget, ultimately voting on the budget on June 10, 2008.

I will be hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the District's budget on Wednesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m. at Emerson Middle School, 1650 Selby Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

I will be joined by Megan Reilly, the District's Chief Financial Officer, Ronni Ephraim, Deputy Superintendent of Professional Learning, and Jose Cole-Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Charter Schools Office.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Big Sunday Volunteers Beautify Nora Sterry Elementary

Nora Sterry Elementary School held its first Big Sunday event this past Sunday May 4.

The event was made possible by hundreds of volunteers who brought out their paint rollers and hard working attitudes to prime and paint the exterior walls at the school to prepare them for new murals representing the school's mission.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Beethoven Elementary School Celebrates New Playground!

Thanks to the generosity of the Anne & Kirk Douglas Award, the students at Beethoven Elementary School are enjoying a new play structure on their main yard.

Yesterday the school held a ribbon cutting celebration to inaugurate the new playground and to honor Mr. & Mrs. Douglas. The celebration also served to recognize Beethoven's tremendous academic gains which recently culminated in the California Distinguished School designation.

Before the play structure installation, the yard consisted of dated playground equipment and a bleak stretch of asphalt. Over the past 10 years, a partnership of the Friends of Beethoven booster club, school staff and community organizations and foundations have successfully beautified the front side of Beethoven Elementary. They are now moving forward in phases to transform the "Big Yard."

Since its inception in 1997, the Anne & Kirk Douglas Award has provided more than $8 million to over 400 projects.

Monday, April 07, 2008

You've heard we're offering space to Charter schools, here's why...

This entry is intended to give you some background about why the District has made these offers and what we are doing to protect the instructional programs currently operating at our schools.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has offered space on its campuses to charter schools. As you may know, charter schools are publicly funded schools that are freed from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools in exchange for greater accountability for student achievement.

In 2000, voters approved Proposition 39, a statewide ballot measure that lowered the threshold for passing local bonds. That measure also included language that requires school districts to identify and allocate space on their campuses to charter schools serving a minimum of 80 students within the districts¹ boundaries. Charter schools must submit a formal application each year to request space under Proposition 39.

While the District has endeavored to make space available for charter schools since 2000, the California Charter Schools Association and two charter operators filed suit against the District alleging that the District violated state law by not providing adequate facilities for charter school students. In February, after many months of negotiation, the Board of Education approved a proposal to settle the lawsuit.

The District agreed to offer classroom space to all charter schools that apply, as Proposition 39 requires. The settlement protects traditional public schools by outlining the criteria for placing charter schools on District campuses. Specifically, the District does not need to offer space to a charter school where doing so would:

-Require a District school to covert to or remain on a multi-track calendar
-Require District students to involuntarily ride a bus ­ restrict a District school from maintaining full-day kindergarten
­-Require a District school to force teachers to travel from classroom to classroom (unless the space offered to charter schools recognizes that charter school teachers
might have to travel as well)
-­Restrict the ability of the District to maintain certain programs (i.e. parent centers, learning centers, school based health clinics, special education rooms, computer and science labs, multimedia and technology rooms, textbook rooms, and early education and adult programs.)

In addition, according to the settlement, ³Each District and charter school shall be able to utilize space on secondary schools necessary to implement and operate small learning communities, including space for teacher planning and meetings and administration for small learning communities.²

This year the District received a record 55 Proposition 39 applications for approximately 17,000 seats, three times the number requested last year. In recent months, the District has been working to identify space on all public school campuses to accommodate this seat need. Last week, with input from local district administrators, the Superintendent approved a list of charter school matches. Charter schools that received offers will have until May 1,
2008 to make a decision.

In the event a charter is interested in an offer, the Facilities Division will coordinate with Local District staff and the corresponding District principal to schedule a visit to the District campus in order for schools to become familiar with each other and their programs. Specific discussions related to use of shared space, campus modifications, and general co-locations issues will occur after the charter officially accepts the offer. Campus modifications can include fencing to separate the schools, creating new entrances, and the addition of sanitary buildings ­ paid for by local bond measures which specifically earmark funds to assist the district to implement Proposition 39.

Most co-location configurations were determined when site reviews occurred at campuses prior to the extension of offers with the input of the principal and Local District staff. While in most cases, this is a new change for our campuses, I hope that our schools view this as an opportunity to share best practices, create instructional partnerships and learn from one another.

This process has been incredibly taxing on all of us, from parents, community members, principals, local district staff to Superintendent Brewer. While I understand our obligation to provide space for public charter school students, I strongly encouraged the Superintendent to consider the instructional priorities at each District school and work to ensure that locating a charter school on the District campus does not disrupt those priorities.

I understand that the addition of charter schools on District campuses may be of concern to you, but I want to reiterate that the District is mandated by state law to provide space to charter schools. As we move forward, I want to assure you that the safety of all students is one of my main priorities and that the District is doing all that it can to ensure the academic success and safety of both our traditional and charter school students.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Education Budget Crisis

This past January, Governor Schwarzenegger announced a projected $14.5 billion deficit in the state budget for 2008-2009. As a result, the Governor has proposed $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education funding. That figure translates into a staggering loss of $460 million in revenue for LAUSD in the upcoming school year, and the cuts could worsen after the Governor's May budget revise.

Needless to say these proposed cuts could have a disastrous impact on the District's ability to provide a quality education to our students. The proposed cuts are equivalent to LAUSD closing 22 high schools, or shutting down all District schools and offices for nearly two weeks.

The proposed budget cuts are unacceptable and would have a tremendous impact in the classroom. The cuts come at a particularly bad time when the District is seeing improvements in academic achievement and is embarking on some key reform initiatives.

In recent months, the Superintendent and his cabinet have been working to develop budget recommendations to propose to the Board of Education. Superintendent Brewer will present his budget recommendations to the Board after the Governor presents his May budget revise.

For more information about the budget impact on LAUSD, please visit ttp://

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I would like to congratulate Venice High School teacher Diane Pollock for being selected the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom Vocational Agriculture Teacher of the Year!

Diane has displayed a tremendous commitment to rebuilding and maintaining the Venice High School Garden Program, educating both high school students and the surrounding community.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Students Chime In on the School Meal Program

I am very pleased to report that on February 20th at Roosevelt High School my office collaborated with the LAUSD Food Services Branch, The Healthy School Food Coalition, California Food Policy Advocates and The Southeast Asian Community Alliance to convene the first ever Student Discussion Group to elicit students' opinions on the school meal program.

Seventeen middle and high school students from several different sites in the District participated to give honest and constructive feedback about their cafeteria experiences. Our Executive Chef, Mark Baida, was on hand and engaged the students in a taste test of a new flavored milk product sweetened with sucrose instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

The students also engaged in several activities including nutrition jeopardy where they competed in teams to answer questions about the taste and texture of the food, entrees they do or don't like, the atmosphere of their cafeterias and what they'd like to change. Students were very constructive in their answers and surprisingly what came out on top is students want sushi! We'll have to follow up with Chef Mark to see if it can happen.

Change of course doesn't happen quickly but this is definitely progress and I am very encouraged that Food Services is engaging students and the community.

The future plan is to conduct these student discussion groups once a month to maintain student involvement in the meal planning process. If you know students who would like to participate in one of these discussion groups please contact Andrea N. Giancoli, the School Nutrition Policy Coordinator in my office at 213 241-5141 to find out how.