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  • Monday, September 23, 2013


    Fairhaven STAR document released by LA Times

    L.A. Times releases OUSD Testing irregularity document
    In a story set for release Tuesday September 24th, The Los Angeles Times has released the reports filed by 27 schools statewide over testing irregularities in last school year's California STAR testing.

    The story includes a link on the Los Angeles Times website to the report OUSD filed over an incident concerning National Blue Ribbon award winning school- Fairhaven Elementary.  According to the report the teacher (who is not named in the report) was placed on Administrative leave.

    The reports filed with the State of California were released to the paper under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The story, Schools lose academic ratings after claims of cheating, included a description of numerous problems revealed in the reports to the state.

    OUSD has appealed the state’s decision to invalidate Fairhaven’s scores based on a statistical error.


    Monday, September 16, 2013


    AB 484 passes State Senate-goes to Brown

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD
    State Senate votes to approve AB 484-bill goes to Brown

     On Monday September 16th, less than a week after the Democratic Party super-majority California State Senate amended and passed Assembly Bill 484 by a 26 to 7 vote (6 absenting) , the California State Assembly super-majority voted 55-16 to pass the bill and sent it to Governor Brown for his signature. 

    AB 484 would end most of the California Standardized testing in preparation for a new testing system in 2 years.

    Brown, who has indicated he would sign AB 484, has until October 13th to sign the bill into law.

    The original AB 484 was authored by Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and sponsored  by the California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  After passage by the Assembly  today, Assemblywomen Bonilla's office issued this statement:

    "We can't delay our students' progress and their workforce readiness, just because we are not up to the challenge of facing a difficult obstacle, This is the right educational policy at the right time, and California is the right state to lead this way forward."

    "AB 484 eliminates outdated tests and allows students and teachers to be better prepared for the new computer based assessments aligned to the common core standards. This bill is essential in giving students and teachers more time in the classroom for valuable instruction instead of obsolete tests."

    However, the goal of a state-wide paperless test  faces huge technological, infrastructure and scheduling logistics that make the roll out of a paper-less computer test in two years all but impossible as currently envisioned by national Edu-crats.  The dirty little Smarter Balance secret is that while Edu-crats tout the "computer" driven test, because of the huge (mostly unspoken) obstacles that exist, a good old paper and pen version of the test is also being developed. 

    One little reported provision of the bill is the fact it allows the California State Board of Education to delay the implementation of CalMAPP for the 2014-2015 school year if the state is not ready. That scenario is almost guaranteed to happen because of the huge obstacles  to a paradigm shift in technology and logistics.

    After AB 484  is signed by Brown, the California law would end most of the current California standardized test known as the STAR tests this school year (except those required as part of the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress reports) and permanently end all STAR tests next year. Next year the bill authorizes "field testing" of a "California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress" (CalMAPP) test.  That test is currently under development to test skills and standards aligned with the Common Core Standards over 40 U.S. states have signed on to use.  In California, the testing consortium known as Smarter Balance Assessment is developing the test to be taken by students on computers. 

    The bill as written presents challenges for the Smarter Balance Edu-crats. After the fiasco of the No Child Left Behind testing regime with its fairytale goals of 2014 proficiency for all students- the AB 484 writers hedged their bets.   The provisions in AB 484 include a "poison pill".  The bill is only valid for 10 years-becoming inoperative July 1, 2024 and leave only one reporting provision in 2025. In 2026, everything under the CalMAPP would be repealed- unless "reauthorized".

    It was the required  "reauthorization" of the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law that finally rendered it obsolete as Congress became unable to satisfy any of the stakeholders involved in the failed law. While provisions of the law are still in effect, waivers and opt-outs have made NCLB ineffective and irrelevant for any meaningful purpose.

    Ending most of the California STAR testing would also end the California testing measurement called the Academic Performance Index.  It is that provision that has put the very 'blue" California state government (with Democrats in total control of the state government) at odds with the President Obama's Democratic administration- in particular with the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The divide has become a very public feud with dueling press releases over threatened federal action against California if it approves AB 464.  Last week Duncan issued this press release:

    “A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition.”

    “No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.”

    With in hours California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson responded with this press release:

     “Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

    “We look forward to the opportunity to make our case to the Administration when the time comes. When we do, we hope they agree that withholding badly needed funds from California’s students would be a grave and serious error.”

    FOR the complete text of AB 484 CLICK ON:  AB 484

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    the Greater Orange News Service

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    “Independent Local Insight

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    State Senate approves AB 484 despite Feds objections

    The California State Senate voted approval Tuesday September 10. 2013 of Assembly Bill 484 that would let most students “test” new computer-based assessments this year and suspend usage of most of the state’s outdated multiple-choice exams.

    The Senate vote comes just one day after the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued a warning to California that if AB 484 is approved, the state may lose federal funding.

    The legislation now heads to the Assembly for a final vote before heading to Governor Brown for his signature.

    Assembly Bill 484 now calls for nearly all of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program to be suspended during field tests of new assessments known as the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP). The bill calls for the new program to permanently replace California's STAR tests in the 2014-15 school year to prepare students for the Common Core standards approved by 45 states.

    The revised legislation, co-authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, calls for a full suspension of STAR tests in mathematics and English-language arts, while leaving science tests in place. The full suspension would however result in the suspension of test scores for the year of trial runs. It is that suspension and lack of scores that Duncan opposes.

    The State Board of Education voted unanimously last week to seek a waiver consistent with state law from the U.S Department of Education to suspend all standardized testing, including federally required tests.

    Support of AB 428 has lead to a very public debate between Duncan and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. 

    The Assembly is expected to approve the bill and Gov. Brown has indicated he will sign it into law.

    Monday, September 09, 2013


    PR campaign for Peralta development?

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD
    At the regularly scheduled Orange Unified School Board meeting on Thursday September 12, 2013, Action Item 13F (page 30) is a request from Trustee Rick Ledesma for a "Community Outreach" on the controversial proposed Peralta site lease. The item states in part: "staff be directed to provide lease information on the proposed Peralta site lease to all parents in the District" .  It  continues "That information might be presented in the form of, but not limited to, a fact sheet flyer, town hall information meetings, and/or any other form of communication that best describes to parents the business details of this project."

    The Agenda item ends with "but in every case should refer parents to the District website".  

    The attempt for the Ledesma PR Resolution comes after months of near universal community opposition and organizing against  the project. The only community members to ever speak in favor of the project have been the four trustees- OUSD Board President Tim Surridge,  Rick Ledesma, John Ortega, Mark Wayland who have pushed the project forward.  Of the hundreds of  citizens who have rallied, walked neighborhoods, attended Board meetings and of the numerous dozens who have spoke in public about the project at OUSD Board meetings- those four trustees are the only ones on record for the project- and they are a slim majority. Three other Trustees are on record and have publicly spoken against the project- Dr. Alexia Deligianni, Kathy Moffat and Diane Singer. 

    Capitalizing on the longtime frustration with development in the north Orange County Metro center,  the neighborhood opposition has organized a coalition that unites political and geographical factions from across the City of Orange and throughout the Greater Orange Communities.  Hundreds of yard signs opposing the project dot the Peralta neighborhood yards and have started to be seen in other areas. The Greater Orange political elite, media elite and community leadership all appear to united against the four Trustees and the Peralta project.  As one Peralta opposition leader put it noting that the OUSD Board is split along gender lines- "Those four men have even managed to alienate women". Not a good sign in a community where the largest city has twice elected women mayors in the most recent elections.

    That community leader also noted that the PR campaign's Fiscal Impact in the Agenda Item is listed as  Unknown"Voting to spend school money on a PR campaign for high density apartments is just another nail in the Peralta Project coffin... and political careers."

    Shrewdly, the Save Peralta Property  organizers have a two pronged organizing path- as a neighborhood association with an  integrated  communications outreach as well as organizing politically. 

    After being "flip-flopped" by Mark Wayland in the last election cycle, the group is already gearing up to target Surridge and Ledesma in the 2014 cycle, while protecting allies Singer and Moffat. "Next election we want a new majority that represents the voters, not the developers".

    Not taking any chances on the all or nothing attitude of the 4 against the world mentality of the Surridge majority, the Save Peralta group has already began to focus on the city approval focus with the tag line "Stop the Residential Rezoning". 

    With Ledesma and Surridge apparently willing to put their seats on the line for a losing cause, that goal may not be far fetched.  That is most apparent in the politics of the publicity campaign. The Ledesma PR Resolution specifically refers the "parents" back to the OUSD website.  The OUSD website currently has six Peralta information links.  Those links open 119 pages of information. Parents who are intrigued by any OUSD communication on the proposed Peralta apartment complex and do a Google web search for more information will be directed to over a year's worth of publicity on numerous sites CLICK ON GOOGLE.

    As one long time Greater Orange political activist noted "Surridge lost the political message as soon as those lawn signs went up". 

    The Orange, blue and white signs lawn signs feature a simple orange circle\slash over the words HIGH DENSITY APARTMENTS. The veteran of decades of political activism added "Nothing the District puts out at this point can counter those signs simple message and really will be a waste of staff time and money".  

    The Save Peralta signs are so popular, the group has had trouble keeping up with the demand.  A neighborhood leader added "If Ledesma expects to see hundreds of OUSD parents rallying around  signs with YES to High Density Apartments...he is delusional".  

    To further illustrate the political naivety and disconnect of the OUSD  Board leadership, the September 12 meeting includes Information Item 13 E (Agenda page 6)-put on the agenda by Tim Surridge.  The topic?  Apparently Surridge's favorite: 
    "Board President Surridge requests that the Board of Education discuss the disposal and/or utilization of the Riverdale school site to maximize District revenue."

    Just as the Edu-crats start to fall all over themselves running from the dying last gasps of the failed testing regiments of now sadly laughable law named No Child Left Behind (NCLB) OUSD's September 12th Agenda features a Believe-it-or-Not moment.

    Fairhaven Elementary School-last year recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School-is the subject of Agenda 12 D- A Public Hearing into a waiver over "Adult Testing Irregularity" and statistics. 

    With the intrigue of 2 student IEP's and the allowable reading test questions to students- and the difference between 18 out of 369 or 18 out of 370 students (equaling 4.86% as opposed to the deadly 5% threshold) has turned district educators into statisticians that would make Major League Baseball aficionados or NFL fantasy league players jealous.  Yes we know Fairhaven is the home of the Safe Harbor statistical miracle...but come on lets all get real.

    It could be Edu-crats NCLB self image!
    Need more proof than the latest state scores and the dozens of federal waivers being granted that the worst fears of NCLB have come true? Just read pages 9 and 10 of the OUSD Board Agenda and see image of their "god" the edu-crats have molded education into. 

    INSIDE the OUSD Board Agenda
    The following are noteworthy highlights of the OUSD Agenda. For the complete agenda see the link below.
    Closed Session
    Action Items
    Information Items
     NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING September 12, 2013
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION- 5:30 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

    ARCHIVAL Information and direct news can be found at:

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    and the
    Greater Orange News Service
    are independent news services of /O/N/N/

    “Independent Local Insight

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