Saturday, March 30, 2013

Monica Ratliff for LAUSD at Empress Pavilion Fundraiser + Some Thoughts on the District 6 Election

Monica Ratliff for LAUSD School Board
The Empress Pavilion
Thursday, April 18, 2013 from 5:30—7:30PM
988 N. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Hosted by Ed Burke, Mario Cano, Hon. Bennett Kayser, Hon. Julie Korenstein, Connie Moreno, with special guests Hon. Jackie Goldberg and David Tokofsky

Hello Friend,

I am happy to let you know about a marvelous young candidate, a teacher, for LA School Board in a run-off in the area I served for 8 years in the East San Fernando Valley. She grew up with a single mom who went back to school to help her daughter go to College at Columbia University. Well her daughter, Monica Ratliff, won a National Hispanic Scholarship to Columbia and then went on to Columbia Law School. After law school she went to work both at the NAACP and Neighborhood Legal Services in the SF Valley. She then decided and has now taught for 11 years at a downtown garment district poverty elementary school earning honors for her commitment to students. She won the LA Times and the LA Daily News Endorsement. I would very much like you to support her as her opponent received 1.2 million dollars to her 14,000 dollars. I hope you will join us or send your support for her campaign.

Thanks always,

David Tokofsky

Monica Ratliff for LAUSD at Empress Pavilion Fundraiser by Robert D. Skeels

Some Thoughts on the District 6 Election

One other thing about Ms. Ratliff that Mr. Tokofsky failed to mention above: she's NOT supported by Rupert Murdoch, Eli Broad, Philip Anschutz, and Michelle Rhee like some other District 6 candidates are.

When United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) House of Representatives (HOR) was voting on endorsements, I was with a group of Adult Education Students supporting my candidacy (when you work with the community, you get community support) passing out our literature to voting HOR members. I was standing next to a young man who I assumed was an intern or working on another candidate's campaign. I introduced myself as a District 2 candidate and he said his name was Antonio Sanchez, a candidate for District 6. I asked him my stock question that I ask all political candidates, "what is your stance on school privatization." I was taken aback by his response, especially given we were in an union hall. He said "I don't like that word, we need to get away from using that word." Next morning I read in the LA Times that he came out of the Villaraigosa camp. That made sense in light of his political affiliations. Sanchez didn't want to talk about school privatization at the UTLA building because he's in favor of school privatization. At the Stonewall Democratic Club endorsement meeting I had the temerity to bring up Antonio Sanchez's connections with the arch-reactionary Coalition for School Reform (CSR), including Philip Anschutz, who was a major player in the passage of Prop 8. That truth made for a close vote, but afterwards I was told I was being unfair for "tarring Sanchez with the brush on an IE" (independent expenditure).

Let's be clear. Had I ever been endorsed by or learned that a Coalition for School Reform IE had been established on my behalf by fringe-right reactionaries including: Rupert Murdoch, Philip Anschutz, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, Jamie Alter-Lynton, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, and others, I would have immediately held a press conference denouncing their politics and disassociating myself from both them and their vile ideologies. Of course, that's because I believe in public education and oppose privatization and neoliberalism.

Photos from 1010 Wilshire Fundraiser Hosted by Suzie & Sean Abajian and Reynaldo Rivera on March 15, 2013


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Parent Trigger - False Promises, Divided Communities and Disrupted Young Lives

Thank you for this thoughtful and informative video exposing The Heartland Institute, Parent Revolution, and ALEC's corporate charter trigger law. We're hopeful that videos like this will counter the lies the trigger proponents promulgate, and that communities will resist when these outsiders come to steal our schools. — rdsathene

The video tells the story of Adelanto, California where a well-funded, outside group "Parent Revolution" came to town and instead of working to improve the schools tricked parents with false promises, bitterly divided the community, and disrupted the education of young children.

"The video makes clear that that parent trigger laws, pending in 14 states, are not a magic wand that improves education -- there is no magic wand," said Roger Hickey of the Education Opportunity Network. "Schools need better resources, engaged parents, good teachers and a supportive community. What schools do not need is divisive campaigns that mislead parents and disappoints parents," he said.

The Education Opportunity Network is part of a new movement that is building in America aimed at assuring that all children and youth have the opportunity to learn. The Education Opportunity Network is a project of the Institute for America's Future, in partnership with the Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

"We need to work together for student success. Let's give our teachers and students the tools and resources they need to succeed," said Jeff Bryant -- education writer and editor of the Education Opportunity Network. "We also need to invest in the priorities that build the foundation for student learning: small classes, early childhood education, up-to-date textbooks and computers, and classes like history, art, PE and music," he said.

Parent Trigger laws are about pitting parents against each other instead of everyone in the community working together on real solutions for educating all children," said Bryant.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Stand up for Special Needs Students against the lucrative charter industry

An activist parent of a special needs child who is a long-time advocate for equitable special education, who has been especially critical of the lucrative charter industry for its outright discrimination, sent the following:

Help me spread the word, Robert: LAUSD families of students with disabilities: Speak truth to power! These annual hearings are an opportunity to give public testimony to the Independent Monitor of our Modified Consent Decree regarding special education services. If you are not being well-served at your local school site and personnel do not respond to your concerns, here's where you need to go...or write a letter if you cannot attend in person. Unless we tell otherwise, the district will assume everyone is just peachy. Please download and share flyers at your schools. Thanks!

Public Hearing on LAUSD's Compliance with Special Education Laws:

Parents of children with IEPs and all other members of the LAUSD community are invited to provide comments to Mr. Frederick Weintraub, the court appointed Independent Monitor, during two hearings scheduled for Thursday, April 11, 2013 (9-11:00am and 5-7:00pm). The hearings will be held at LAUSD Board Room located at 333 S. Beaudry Avenue."

This memo outlines school requirements for special education services. If more school site families were aware of what was required, there might be better compliance regarding students with disabilities. This District Validation Review (DVR) is supposed to be done every four years. If your school isn't on the list, use this to determine if they're following proper procedure and the law until it's your turn:


The purpose of this Reference Guide is to inform site administrators: (1) of the requirement to complete the “School Self Review Checklist, Students with Disabilities: 2012-2013” within 30 days of the new school year, and (2) that the Local Educational Service Center Superintendent, Charter Schools Division Executive Director, or their designee(s) will periodically conduct site level visits during the school year to determine the status of concerns identified by the checklist as mandated by the Modified Consent Decree."

note Attachment B was added finally to ensure that charters were not discriminating...problem is - many schools "cheat" the forms as parental input is usually not required unless it's an official review - then they only call on families who have had "positive" experiences....


Teaching Beyond the Bubble: Take a Stand for Meaningful Teaching and Learning in LAUSD!

Teaching Beyond the Bubble: Take a Stand for Meaningful Teaching and Learning in LAUSD!

Thursday, March 21, 2013, 4:00—6:00 PM
LAUSD Headquarters
333 S. Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Teaching Beyond the Bubble: Take a Stand for Meaningful Teaching and Learning in LAUSD! by Robert D. Skeels

Our students are sick of mindless worksheets, decontextualized readings, and multiple-choice tests. They deserve access to a robust and meaningful curriculum that challenges them to think outside of the box, not just fill in bubbles!   John Deasy's unilateral directive to use student test scores for 30% of a teacher's evaluation will further intensify the destructive testing culture in our schools. Come out to rally for the schools L.A. students deserve!  

This fun action will include music performances, theater, and a Scantron art contest as well as student, parent, and teacher speakers. Bring signs that show how the testing mania is affecting YOUR school!

Sponsored by Progressive Educators for ACtion (PEAC). For more information, contact Jess at 213-572-8499 or, or check out!


Friday, March 01, 2013

South Central Precinct Walking — Robert D. Skeels for School Board

South Central Los Angeles Precinct Walking by Robert D. Skeels