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August 18, 2014

Building a Decentralized School System Begins With Teaching, Not Testing

Last week's election in Los Angeles settled—at least for a few months—the question of who is going to be "on the bus" at L.A. Unified. So, as the school district welcomes George McKenna to the horseshoe shaped board table, let's talk about the process of building a new bus. For the last 30 years, at least, reformers have tried to reinvent public schooling in the City of Angels. None has succeeded, and virtually all their plans have been built around the same four elements. But their implementation has tended to get things backward.

August 12, 2014

Steve Barr Tries to Bridge Union-Reformer Divide in Reboot of California's 'Democrats for Education Reform'

Steve Barr has organizing in his DNA, and he, along with retired union leader Joe Boyd, have announced an effort to recreate the California chapter of Democrats for Education Reform as a union-friendly environment. They want to go beyond wedge issues and toward big picture ideas that have broad support. But just getting used to saying pro-union and DFER in the same sentence is a stretch.

August 11, 2014

Negative and Nasty Regime Politics: Another L.A. School Board Election

Tuesday, voters will go to the polls in Los Angeles to elect a member in school board District #1. The race between retired school administrator George McKenna and aspiring politician Alex Johnson has turned negative and nasty. It's enough to make you think that there must be a better way. Maybe, just maybe, some political energy could be directed toward capacity building rather than regime politics.

August 07, 2014

What We Read to Keep On California 'On'

Readers have asked us how to keep up with what's happening in California. Reading 'On California,' and following us on Twitter, is a good way, the best in our estimation. But what do we read? And what do we recommend to our readers? Here's an incomplete and changing list.

July 22, 2014

Roger Ebert, the Daily Illini, and Me

I saw the Roger Ebert homage movie, Life Itself, and came away thinking about both Roger and the Daily Illini, the student newspaper that formed our rite of passage into adulthood.

July 16, 2014

How to Drive Reform With Instruction Rather Than Testing

The Common Core will work in California if its adoption is driven by instruction rather than testing. Making this happen challenges the state to slow the consequences of testing and to find ways to invest in a modern educational infrastructure.

July 10, 2014

Grounding Vergara in the Realities of Teaching in California

Reality in California is different from that posited by Vergara plaintiffs. Most teachers in California don't get tenure after two years, and the system of evaluation they are subjected to does not differentiate between effective and ineffective teachers, write guest bloggers Julia Koppich and Daniel Humphery.

June 30, 2014

New State Accountability Plan Is Only One Among Many

California's new accountability plan proves to be complex, and it is only one of many that district's need to complete.

June 26, 2014

Poll Shows Support for Vergara Restrictions

A public opinion poll released Thursday shows that a large majority of Californians supports the restrictions on tenure and due process that were the subject of the recent Vergara decision.

June 23, 2014

A Little 'Lateral Thinking' Will Answer the Teacher Quality/Accountability Question

The problems raised in the Vergara lawsuit could be solved if we would think about them differently, argues guest blogger Ted Kolderie. It is clear that the source of the problem is the boss/worker arrangement itself rather than the way the teachers behave in it, he argues.

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