Sat, Apr

Things There are Not Enough of … Like Dark Chocolate … In Our Lives


LA’S SCHOOLS-Every once in a while, though not often enough, we get out of LA and LAUSD and are exposed to the real world.

On Tuesday there was an election – and we were reminded that there is a whole other world out there.

Outside California there are Republicans.

Who knew?

I am of course being glib; we’ve had Republicans in California. Action Hero Republicans who became governor after staging their own election. Song-and-Dance-Man Republicans who became US Senators. Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian Republicans: birds so unlike the feather to become their own sub-species. Richard Nixon was a lot of things and California Republican was one of them. 

And the jurist who defines ‘Activist Judge’ in the conservative lexicon - Earl Warren - was Republican Governor of California before he led the Warren Court to the liberal Promised Land and/or tea party Wrack+Ruin. (I’m looking into it …but I’m told the Iranian Republican Guard has no connection to the California Republican Party.)

We had our election in California; the Westside LA Liberals picked their champion, no Republicans were elected to statewide office and the governor was reelected while ignoring his own reelection. 

Our most hotly contested race in CA was between two registered Democrats for the non-partisan and fairly powerless job of Superintendent of Public Instruction. I confess that had Marshall Tuck won I would have added “meaningless” to the “powerless” description ….but had the School Reform Billionaires and Teachers Unions Political Action Committee invested their millions in paying teachers or buying library books instead of ads+air-buys I’d feel warmer+fuzzier about the democratic process. 

That Tuck got 48% of the vote worries me …once again the Billionaire Boys Club almost got what they paid for!

• There are national elections every two years.
• Republicans and geezers tend to vote very two years,
• Democrats and youth, every four.
• In L.A. we have elections fairly continuously …more on that later.

I’ve said this before, but repetition is key in education. When Mayor Tony tried to take over LAUSD his opponents (me among them) had yellow t-shirts that said “Parents. Not Politics.” The other side had blue T shirts that said “Parent Power”. When two diametrically opposed positions claim to be for the same thing you need to put on your hip-waders and/or Ebola suits. Both sides are full of it, the effluvia is going to be noxious and the debate is going to be spun+framed by the PR firm of Balderdash, Twaddle, Claptrap and Malarkey.

Parents need to get involved in school politics as part of getting involved in their kid’s education. This is especially true in the brave new world of the Local Control Funding Formula – as decision-making allegedly is pushed down to the school level.

I bring this up now precisely because:

1. The ‘Local’ in Local control is still solidly ensconced s at 333 S. Beaudry, not at the school site, and
2. Yesterday was the deadline to file to run for school board. Just as your voicemail and snail mail boxes empty of robocalls and political fliers a majority of the board is up for election and the competition has been joined for the election in March.

I have, in my life, worked as a consultant. Consultants are disinterested third parties hired to write a report on something; the words “disinterested” and “hired” being mutually exclusive.

Most consultants are technical writers, not creative writers. When a consultant is hired by someone to deliver a report on something and in their research and expert opinion finds that the party who hired them is incompetent and doing a really crummy job of doing their job, the consultant’s creative writing skills are sorely challenged.

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Such is the case in the Oversight Report on the My Integrated Student Information System generated by Arnold Viramontes.

(A Parent leader– who clings to anonymity but wishes to be identified here as ‘Tall Dark and Handsome from San Diego' translates the MiSiS acronym as “The Student MiSinformation System.” 

That’s far kinder than describing the LAUSD Information Technology Team as “The Three Blind Mices” …though that under-enumerates the vision-challenged rodent infestation.)

Viramontes was hired by Superintendent Deasy to generate an independent third party report on MiSiS implementation and to report directly to him. Unless it was delivered very early in the AM by the time the report was delivered on October 16th Deasy was no longer superintendent – and it takes neither rocket science nor tealeaf reading nor the Alameda County Superior Court to determine that part of the reason Deasy was gone was The Office of Superintendent’s mishandling of MiSiS.

The Office of Superintendent being architecture and furniture – no actual humanity was involved. The Viramontes Report names no names and points no fingers – but it describes cluelessness, incompetence and rank misunderstanding on a grand scale – albeit between the lines. And despite all the previous “We got the program for free from Fresno” – and the “We own the code” – it spells it out quite clearly: “MiSiS application development involves a partnership between Microsoft and LAUSD.”

The report is a seven-page snapshot in twelve-point Arial of a deer frozen in the headlights. The report is dated Oct 16th – the day Deasy resigned …though the version released is dated Oct 22nd – which suggests this is a revised draft. LA School Report reports it didn’t go to the Board of Ed until Nov. 6th.

The report conclusion almost says “Don’t blame yourselves, you didn’t know what you were doing, you didn’t know what to expect and you didn’t understand what was expected of you …or why. And even when you knew what you were doing and the team down the hall knew what they were doing … neither team knew what the other was doing.”

But that’s a report I’ve been writing and delivering every Sunday for ten years.

In my getting out of town and LAUSD last week I spent a few days with other California PTA leaders. Yes, we talked about LAUSD – how could we not? – but we also discussed the triumphs and travails of other school districts.


The entire Sweetwater USD Bd of Ed has been indicted. (…one of them ran for reelection on the “I wasn’t as guilty as the rest of ‘em” platform). The voters passed and funded Universal Preschool in San Francisco for the next 24 years. Most school bonds and parcel taxes up-and-down the state passed – but some did not. The UC’s and CSU’s may raise tuition. Children succeeded. There is not enough Art and Music and PE and Health Ed and Civics – or nurses, counselors and mental health professionals in our schools today, And PTA and parent fundraising is paying for too much of it where it is.

There simply aren’t enough of those things – or dark chocolate – in our lives.

(Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is the former President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. Scott is a member of the California State PTA Board on Managers. He blogs at the excellent 4 LA Kids … where this perspective was originally posted.)






Vol 12 Issue 91

Pub: Nov 11, 2014


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