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!