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Does LAUSD Have a Money Pit?

March 27th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

lausd-ski-jump.gif

The Los Angeles Unified School District needs to cut $718 million out of its budget.
This is why more than 4700 teachers have gotten pink slips.

But are there other places that could be cut instead?

This morning’s LA Times has an article about the draft internal audit they managed to nab. The audit points to piles of money that may have been wasted by the district’s facilities division. It is not a cheering read. At all.

For instance, there was $17 million that the audit says was spent unnecessarily on consultants
who were, in many cases, (according to the audit) unqualified, and who did jobs that district employees could have done.

(The consultant issue generally is totally out of whack at the district, as any one with only the mildest of associations with the internal workings of LAUSD will be happy to rant on about, if you but give them a chance to do so.)


Here is how the article, written by Howard Blume, begins.


Consultants working for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s
school construction program cost taxpayers 70% more than if district employees had been used to do the same work, according to a draft internal audit obtained Thursday by The Times.

The audit also found that some consultants lacked required qualifications
for their duties, and that those contractors have been improperly supervising and evaluating district employees as well as other consultants.

[SNIP]

* Using district employees, where possible, instead of consultants could have saved $77 million in the period from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007.

* Consultants lacking the required minimum qualifications were hired or promoted.

* Eighty-four percent of consultants had been employed
at the district for more than two years and 16% more than five years.

* One consultant, who was supervised by
an outside company he used to work for, billed the district at $189 an hour for full-time work, even though he spent only one week a month in Los Angeles.

* Consultants overstepped their proper roles,
making decisions about the hiring and compensation of district employees. Some consultants also controlled the payments of district funds to other consultants working for the same firm. In some cases, they even signed time sheets for payments to their own firm


In this same vein, a few weeks ago NBC4 broadcast some of the fruits of its own investigation into instances
of waste and possible kickbacks on a facilities division-sponsored elementary school library. The NBC4 folks have no smoking gun, exactly, but they turned up some troubling bullet holes—so to speak.

Over the years, and again recently, I have been hearing of still other cases of such waste and double dealings
myself when it comes to district building projects, but they are mighty hard to prove.


Perhaps this is the sort of thing that some nice, smart group
of investigative journalism students ought to be looking at a little more closely. Hint, hint.

********************************************************************************************************

PS: Yesterday’s Daily News had it’s own nicely grumpy editorial
about Cortines and his teacher slashing proposal.

Posted in Economy, LAUSD | 52 Comments »

52 Responses

  1. Joe Says:

    Is it possible to be shocked and not surprised at the same time? Because that’s what I am after reading this.

  2. reg Says:

    This sounds like Pentagon procurement…

    And the rationales sound suspiciously like AIG.

  3. reg Says:

    My offhand impression, after reading scattered reports about LAUSD failures on multiple fronts, is that the first step to reform would be breaking the district up into smaller subdistricts that are run independently of each other. Of course the argument would be that administration is being duplicated, but it’s hard to imagine anything more unwieldy and wasteful than what you’ve got. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Los Angeles doesn’t appear to be a coherent city to anyone on the outside and perhaps more regionalism – maybe breaking the damned thing into boroughs like NY, but actually giving them some autonomy in various matters like schools and policing – would serve the folks better than the current attempt to manage a behemoth from the center. Anyone ever consider this ? Because what you’ve got doesn’t look like it’s working. Even by fucked-up-big-city standards.

  4. reg Says:

    (Also, off topic, but note this link to Jim Webb’s new initiative for criminial justice reform:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/03/webb_specter_introduce_bill_to_overhaul_americas_c.php/

    I’d love to hear your reaction, and some clips of others responses, on another post.)

  5. reg Says:

    Also Celeste, more on topic, here’s what looks like a very useful, informative exchange between Dana Goldstein at TAP and Daniel Luzer at CJR on some of the main issues, the politics and the personalities brewing in the current ed reform debate (wars?):

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_education_wars

    http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/mission_accomplished.php

    http://tinyurl.com/datba5

    I just skimmed these put I’m going to print them out so I can digest them over coffee without being plugged in.

  6. Rebel Girl Says:

    Great post – I’ve linked to it on our canyon’s blog about the crisis facing our rural school:

    http://savesilveradoelementary.blogspot.com/

    If you have any extra investigative journalism students who want to wade into OC school politics, send them our way. We need all the help we can get.

  7. Woody Says:

    reg: This sounds like Pentagon procurement… And the rationales sound suspiciously like AIG.

    Ohhh, a double hand slap on things unrelated. Never miss a chance to bash our Defense Department and big business. You uneducated queer. And, so far, you have 3 out of 5 of the comments.

    - – -

    No, actually, this sounds like standard government management — just like the one that you expect will save the economy by wasting nine trillion dollars.

    If the LAUSD wants to be patriotic, then it needs to hire twice as many teachers and double its budget, because it can always take more from taxpayers at the point of a gun to finance their follies.

    I’ve been complaining about government waste and inefficiencies for years, yet no one on the left cared about the taxpayers and only whines when it impacts them and their jobs. Welcome to the awakening.

  8. reg Says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

  9. Ishmael Says:

    Woody writes, “this sounds like standard government management…”
    Except that it isn’t. The point of these articles shows how outside PRIVATE INTERESTS are brought in to do work that LAUSD –A PUBLIC INSTITUTION — could have done itself and would have saved a lot of money. It’s another case of CORPORATE WELFARE grazing on the public’s resources. The analogy to pentagon procurement (with AIG double-speak rationalizations) is on the mark.

  10. Woody Says:

    Ishmael, the comparison is actually pretty lousy. Unlike government, you don’t see private businesses typically waste money on outside consultants if they have the in-house expertise, and you don’t see private businesses voluntarily paying government advisors to direct their companies, either. However, I don’t blame a company for taking the government contracts that are offered, even if the government is stupid.

    Government is inefficient and wasteful–especially school boards. If they had competition, then the current ones would have been in bankruptcy, as they appear to be headed now.

    = = =

    For reg.

    Definition of a troll (Source: Witness LA):

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 22nd, 2009 at 11:24 am
    Go fuck yourself, you racist pig. You reveal yourself to be ever more disgusting with each thread. Piggybacking on this tragedy with your sociopathic screeds is par for the course in your wretched little world.

    I’m through with you now, having proven beyond any doubt that you are dishonest, intellectually incompetent, too cowardly and confused to even discuss some affront to common sense like “mark to model” accounting with a layman (and ultimately proving my point when you offer a link as your last resort), and bigoted beyond redemption.

    A pathetic little man. I’ve been right about you since Day One when I pegged you as a disreputable, dishonest idiot.

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 6:23 am
    Hey “Duh” – if you’re going to simply post a quote from a screed by an ex-state senator from Connecticut attacking Chris Dodd, would you at least post the link so we can read the entire piece by Kevin Rennie at RealClearPolitics and judge it’s worth. You come off like a half-baked troll shooting spitballs.

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 9:41 am
    I love being lectured on education by a classic Know-Nothing who all but admits he’s culturally illiterate, would rather watch football on TV than read books and claims to have gotten through school doing papers on “Classics Illustrated” and Cliff Notes. And, of course, who isn’t even competent to discuss problems withiin his supposed area of “expertise” in a blog comments thread.

    Very funny stuff.

    - – -

    (Woody Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 11:48 am
    reg, reg, reg…you try so hard to be an elitist, while I do the things that I enjoy. Plus, you pretend to understand issues about which you really have no clue and claim that I don’t know anything about a field in which I’ve made a living and given many lectures to graduate students and fellow professionals. Your life must be miserable. Try to get that chip off of your shoulder. To help get the demons out of your soul, may I suggest that you start studying the Bible?)

    - –

    (Do’h! Says:
    March 22nd, 2009 at 12:31 pm
    Well, thanks Woody and John Moore for ruining another fine Sunday for Reg. It is a completely malignant experience to have Reg dropping the F word around here again in happy acres. He should really stop shaming the family!)

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 9:28 am
    Incidentally, if anyone is wondering what Woody would be like if he wasn’t filled with racist bile, compulsive parroting of rightwing drivel, peddling bizarre disinformation and engaged in desperate and reckless ad hominem, the miracle of modern technology has the answer: (Link to TurboTax)

    - – -

    (Woody Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 11:12 am
    BTW, you can’t bring yourself up by bringing other people down, despite what Obama tells you.)

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 11:59 am
    Total fool…racist trash reaching for the gutter. Unbelievably, that’s apparently a step up for our resident troll.

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 9:51 am
    Ignoring the compulsive, destructive asshole who attempts to divert and dominate all discussion here, I….

    - – -

    (Woody Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 10:56 am
    From reg, who made comment #’s 2,4,7,8, and 9: Ignoring the compulsive, destructive asshole who attempts to divert and dominate all discussion here)

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 7:14 pm
    You are welcome to kiss my ass, little jerk. You’re a moron and pollute these threads – you started this one with ridiculous ad hominem and have contributed nothing.

    - – -

    And from another site, which reg brings into discussions over here….

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 24th, 2009 at 8:03 pm
    The notion that we should even engage this homophobic, racist moron – who compulsively publishes links here to rightwing crackpots spreading the most transparent disinformation – on the quality of the New York Times is absurd. This clown couldn’t separate good reporting from Orwellian garbage if his life depended on it – in fact he has no interest in anything but the most rancid propaganda.

    Here’s an example from one of his links today:
    “This column will explain why The New York Times has probably killed more people than Hitler.”

    The resident moron isn’t just incredibly inept intellectually – he’s a moral cretin. Racist to the core and perched here – compulsively pounding away – solely to get attention due to some sever neurosis and to disrupt rational discourse.

    Total fucking piece of shit. And that verdict is being kind…

    - – -

    (Woody Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 6:18 am
    And, reg, I did read the entire article. Next time, if you prefer, I’ll not choose one that gives both sides.

    In any event, you typically pull out your phony elitist analysis and expose to me that you really don’t understand the depth of subjects–particularly those related to economics and accountng. That explains why you resort to calling me names rather than present a scholarly alternate position. On the other hand, any position opposite of mine cannot be scholarly.

    Rather than reading the entire link from a Wharton School professor with many other credentials, you presented his attention-grabbing first line without presenting his explanation, which wasn’t wrong. Others can read beyond the first line and see why he is correct.

    If you had taken debate in college, or even gone to college, you would have learned that slinging mud at the other side doesn’t win points from the judges. It’s easy to conclude that you have nothing of substance.)

    - – -
    reg Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 11:18 am
    Bottom line – You’re invariably the most tiresome, boring, ill-informed person in these comments. And you’ve got the morals of a slug – racist, bigoted and rather shockingly dishonest. But, of course, all of this begs the questions I’m sure most readers of this blog ask when you perennially get caught in your own bullshit – What else is new and who cares ?

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 25th, 2009 at 7:07 pm
    Woody, you couldn’t do my job (fry cook) in a million years. Earth to Woody – you’re doing people’s taxes. You’re an annoying little jerk and a bore.

    - – -

    (Woody Says:
    March 21st, 2009 at 9:01 pm
    reg, your comments can be classified as “eloquent nonsense” from a school dropout, and your responses specifically about me are the typical insults that one expects from white-trash who can’t come up with a good answer.

    The fact that others may not be able to see how stupid you could be explained by this statement that I read:

    “What seems reasonable while talking to other true believers turns out to be bat-s**t crazy when normal people hear it.”

    Oh, and do you want to continue making false insults to me about about my accounting knowlege and bringing those attacks over here, when your knowledge on the subject is absolutely nil?

    Quit insulting Marc and boring everyone else with you pathetic estrogen-filled ravings.)

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 22nd, 2009 at 9:17 am
    Incidentally, this dishonest moron citing Celeste at WitnessLA as cancelling her LA Times sub for the same reasons the racists and hysterics that Woody cited for concelling their Atlanta Journal-Constitution subs is so misleading and out-of-context as to be merely another lie spouted carelessly by our sociopathic troll.

    Here’s the link to Celeste’s post on why she cancelled her LA Times sub: (Link to WitnessLA)
    - – -

    (Woody Says:

    March 22nd, 2009 at 9:25 am
    Great, reg! You proved my last point about you with your last two responses. You can’t make a defense without name calling and your lies and half-truths.

    My point about Celeste was completely correct. We both object to the papers over the same reason — content, even though the direction of the content may be different for each of us.)

    - – -

    reg Says:
    March 22nd, 2009 at 10:12 am
    You fucking idiot – her objection wasn’t to “content” but to lack of content and the cutbacks in the paper. Linking Celeste to the racists and reactionaries whose insane screeds you snipped and clipped and re-posted on this thread – creeps who have probably hated the Atlanta Constitution since Ralph Magill stood up for civil rights – is the height of dishonesty.

    Obviously either you can’t read or you can’t comprehend what you read.

    - – -

    (Woody Says:

    March 23rd, 2009 at 6:56 am
    reg: You f’n idiot – her objection wasn’t to “content” but to lack of content

    Oooooh, that’s a major distinction. I see. Content left, content right, lack of content, too much content, not enough rainsbows in the content…. Why, my simply saying that the problem was with the content must have been very confusing to you.

    Now, let’s discuss my problem with your brains…I mean, lack of brains.)

    = = =

    “Well, isn’t that special?”

    It seems if “that one” who calls others “trolls” is projecting.

  11. reg Says:

    Thanks for turning this thread into more bullshit about you, asshole.

    You really are a rancid little jerk.

  12. reg Says:

    For what it’s worth, that first thread the Resident Troll quoted began with his comment, before I posted anything, with an unprovoked racist slime of my wife, who “happens to be black”, in reference to the police shooting stating something to the effect of “reg – don’t let your wife near a gun.”

    So, yes I called him racist trash. Which he obviously is. This is the little shit who linked, among other things, to pictures of Obama shining Sarah Palin’s shoes during the electoral race. Notice his calling me an “uneducated queer” above. This is the level of childish bigotry he’s immersed in. I say some pretty harsh things in response to this clown’s persistent yammering with the same old rightwing horseshit, but his total lack of respect for the host and for the readers in this thread – and the Oakland officer’s thread – sets some sort of gutter standard that’s unmatched – and which defines trolling at its worst.

  13. Woody Says:

    reg, you still playing “dress-up” like you asked Marc Cooper to do on his site? Sweet. Anyway, it’s clear who has been the troll, and it’s not anyone in my office.

    Do you have anything else to say about mismanagement of school tax funds – besides that brilliant comment that it is like our military and big business? The results of charter schools and private schools show that better educations can be provided at less cost. It’s just that the teacher unions hate competition and can get away with waste–until the money runs out.

  14. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hey, guys, can we possibly get back into engaging subject matter rather than each other on the silliest of levels? We’re back to days and days of “Jane-You-Ignorant-Slut”—or, to reduce it to a younger age, there are whole threads full of “No, YOU!” “No, YOU!!!” “NO, YOU-O-O-O-OOOOO!!!!”

    A little of this sort of random mud flinging is sorta fun and perhaps even slightly aerobic. But we’ve gone well past that.

    Reg, I will definitely post on Webb’s bill. All the criminal justice activists I know are thrilled that he’s taking this clear a leadership position. Ditto, Congressman Bobby Scott on the Youth Promise Act.

    More soon.

  15. Woody Says:

    Gee, Ms. Fremon. You sure sound nice today. I’ve been telling reg and the Beaver to act nice, because it’s the right thing. Maybe reg will listen to you.

  16. reg Says:

    Celeste -this hasn’t become “fun” at all for me. Woody’s racist bilge has become toxic and I’ll answer his bigoted horseshit as long as he slings it. Look at the content of the last several threads and tell me with a straight face that this guy isn’t persisting in craziness beyond the limits of tolerance. I’ve offered a lot of substantive posts, but the monkey keeps persisting in turning it into a pissing contest. He’s picked the wrong guy. I’ve been moderating my responses to this little prick, while he’s done his best to up the ante. That’s a fact. He’s toxic and ruins damned near every comments thread he infests. Is there anything substantive that isn’t the same recycled talking points – pretty much from the Tim-McVeigh-Lite worldview – that he contributes ? I think your readers would be hard-pressed to come up with anything. His chidlish hypocrisy is evident in his last simpering, Eddy Haskell comment.

  17. reg Says:

    On topic, The Resident Troll’s attempt at a substantive comment – that charter and private schools prove that better education can be provided at lower cost – is a typically unfounded statement that is meaningless, at best. The date comparing public charter schools with other public schools shows a wide variance, often depending on who is doing the research, and there is NO definitive study that shows anything other than that some charter schools do better than others and apparently have excellent programs but that, on average, the performance of charter schools given similiar populations is no better than the public schools. I defy anyone to come up with anything other than anecdotal support for the notion that charter schools are consistently better schools than co-relative pubilc schools. Comparing the broad range of studies that have been done does NOT support this conclusion. If you don’t believe me, start googling “charter schools performance”, spend some time looking at the various articles and studies available and any honest person who isn’t analytically incompetent and looking to score propaganda points for pre-concieved notions will conclude that you can’t definitively prove much with the available data one way or the other. In fact, given the degree to which charter schools are “self-selectiing” compared to most generic public school, the data on them is quite disappointing. I support charter schools because I believe in offering alternatives and in experimentation that might yield successful models, so I have no incentive to tear them down as a concept. But I am not so disconnected from reality or blatantly ideological that I would make the case that charter schools are some ready, pre-fab answer to the complex problems of public education. And comparing private schools is sheer idiocy because they can select their way out of the worst situations that public schools are forced to address. Any honest person who isn’t pushing a single-minded agenda understands this and wouldn’t even raise this as a relevant talking point.

  18. the beaver Says:

    -Total fucking piece of shit
    -Go fuck yourself
    -kiss my ass
    -the little shit
    -bullshit
    -asshole

    Reg certainly has the command of the English language.

  19. reg Says:

    Get the vapors…

  20. Hortense Says:

    “Look at the content of the last several threads and tell me with a straight face that this guy isn’t persisting in craziness beyond the limits of tolerance.”

    Yes, Reg, but your letting him get to you. He’s found your button, don’t let it show, he is gloating.

  21. reg Says:

    You’re right. But when he starts a thread with two racist slurs or uses “queer” as the insult-du-jour, somebody needs to call him on it. He’s running rampant and deliberately derails discussion. And, in fact, he’s not “gloating” – he’s showing desperation – he can’t stand being called on his shit and has descended into a desperate and utterly transparent level of hysterical reaction. There’s no other explanation for the continuum of posts above – or his starting out the Oakland officer’s thread with two deliberate racist insults directed at me by name – both of which went beyond anything I’ve yet seen here as a deliberate and compulsive trashing of a comments thread. Frankly, when a guy uses overtly racist slurs and stuff like “queer”, it’s not about buttons or personalities.

  22. Hortense Says:

    I do not read his comments anymore because it would make my blood boil. When I see his name I simply read on to the next comment. No waste of time, no boiling blood, I am much better for it. I don’t even use his name!

  23. reg Says:

    You’re absolutely right and, I dare say, saner than I am.

  24. Rebel Girl Says:

    Woody who?

  25. Clay Landon Says:

    Talking to Woody, point-by-point. I may need a shower after this…

    Says Woody: Clay, a “profession” isn’t represented by a union. And, how many “education” classes were you required to take in which you sat on the floor in a circle and petended to be relevant? That was a big help, huh?

    Says me: For a guy who continually takes offense at personal attacks, you don’t mind slingin’ it, do you? It’s cute, how you put “education” classes in quotes to oh-so-cleverly hide your barely disguised contempt for lord knows what; I mean, what is your point? And by the by, if you look up the word profession, you’ll find that teaching fits. The argument that a profession isn’t represented by a union is patently ridiculous but if you really don’t want take my word for it, I’ll debate you any day of the week and twice on Sunday on that point alone. You will lose historically, philosophically, you name it.

    Says Woody: Tell them to sit straight and look forward. At my university, the students in the School of Education had the lowest SAT scores–even worse than those studying psychology and journalism!

    Says Me: This was in response to my own snide comment at Woody’s expense; I wanted to borrow some of his recent inscrutable posts to show my students how not to write. He responded with this gratuitous insult directed at me which is fine but he goes on to imply, not so subtly, that any study of the liberal arts is foolish since all the students there are dumb anyway. How else to interpret his utter contempt for the fields of education, psychology and journalism? Or is it just those students who are deserving of scorn because they had (horrors!) low SAT scores? Let’s let pass for a moment how Woody would know about all of those students SAT scores, shall we?

    Says Woody: H.L. Mencken on goverment schools:

    “The erroneous assumption is to the effort that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence …. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such montebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

    Says Me: Hey! Somebody has been reading Neal Boortz!
    http://boortz.com/nealz_nuze/2009/03/since-ive-mentioned-government.html?printer=1

    Mencken wrote this in, what, 1880? Schools have changed since then. The goal of education is emphatically not to create a generation of like-minded automatons with the same opinions. I mean, please. I’m trying my damndest to get my students to think for themselves because colleges I talk to and companies I stay in contact with tell me that what is needed desperately are critical thinkers. Do you have a problem with that? I don’t think so. Mencken is not describing a school I am familiar with; quite the contrary.

    By the by, notice who Mencken was criticizing there? Politicians, pedagogues, montebanks… not teachers.

    - – -

    Says Woody: Problems with schools aren’t due to lack funding. If so, the increases in funding through huge tax increases over the decades would have resulted in the best schools in the world. Try cutting out waste and useless programs.

    Says Me: Great! We agree! And this is the Union’s problem because… why, exactly? How about this–the state cuts out the administrators and keeps the teachers. We eliminate the consultants and… keep the teachers. Oh, that’s right. You can’t make that argument since it gets in the way of your wholly irrelevant anti-union stance.

    Woody says: For instance, our Board of Education built a $7 million grammar school because it was so necessary. You’ll never guess, but the school was completed and instantly boarded up because it was not needed. Oops. A little mistake on projections there. I guess education experts should have taken a few business classes.

    Says me: At this point, we are seeing a little more into Woody’s character. He has no use for anything resembling liberal arts (just the word liberal must make the man cringe) and it’s business that is the most useful course of study (have you read the papers lately?) And Woody? Dollars to doughnuts it was not the “education experts” who made the final call on building that school; it was probably the Board of Supervisors.

    Says Woody: BTW, I regularly taught post-graduate classes of up to 80-90 students, and I didn’t whine.

    Says Me: Of course you didn’t. You had an audience taking notes while you lectured at a podium and sent them off to read and work independently. Perhaps you even helped them in office hours. Please do not misunderstand, Woody. I’m not saying you have it easy. But elementary and secondary education are much, much different from college education as I hope you will agree. We aren’t “whining” about increased class size; we are informing you and anyone who will listen that lower class sizes are more efficient. And the word “efficient” is beloved by those who worship at the altar of the business model. So… we agree on something, right?

    Says Woody: If you want to save money without cutting teachers in L.A., throw out all of those illegal immigrants eating up your space and budgets. Isn’t that really the biggest problem? Now, because of them, the kids of legal citizens might suffer from less attention. When the illegals complain and say that you can’t throw them out, just respond with “Sí, se puede!”

    Says Me: Up until now, I think I’ve been debating fairly with nary a snide remark. I think I’ve taken the high road. I’m going to try to do so now. So please listen to me: you have a racial problem. There’s no shame in admitting as much. We cannot “throw out” illegal aliens from our schools because we first have to find out a person’s status as a citizen and that requires violating lord knows how many civil liberties. Additionally, the very idea of it is ugly, absurd, and reeks of a kind of McCarthyistic cruelty that frankly I would hope anyone would be above but perhaps you’re not.

    The biggest problem at LAUSD is not illegal aliens and never has been. We can talk reasonably about the district’s problems and I’m happy to do that with you. My invitation, which you have not responded to, still stands–come to my school, Woody. Engage in face-to-face discussions with teachers, students and parents.

    I’d advise you to keep the “kick out the illegals” comments to yourself. Let me know.

  26. reg Says:

    God bless you, Clay Landon.

  27. Woody Says:

    Because I respect and appreciate Celeste, I will be the bigger person and ignore the unfair attacks against me.

    - – -

    Celeste, in your last post reg was extremely interested in David Tokofsky’s response to you on the education issue. To end the anxiety, will you give us an update? Thanks.

  28. Woody Says:

    Clay, to address reasonable points within my limited time, pay my expenses and I’ll come to your class and give your students the education that they need rather than the politically correct one that they are fed and that won’t help them in life except to be left-wing robots rather than courageous, independent thinkers who will stand up to the speech police.

    For the expenses, may I suggest a donut fund raiser (You might suspect that I like Krispy Kreme Krullers) or a casino night, like on the front sign of rebel girl’s school, where they teach kids that gambling is good.

    - – -

    Our school system, with all its flaws, has a pretty good crop of students, and people from two neighboring counties are always trying to sneak their kids into our schools with phony claims of residency here. The county has no problem asking for proof that the students are legally in the schools and, if they are not, they toss them out and threaten the parents with a felony for lying on the admission forms. That would work with illegals in your system, and, boy, would it free up a lot of desks and reduce class sizes.

    - – -

    BTW, my family has been in the education business a long time–from teachers, to principals, to professors, and one was the chancellor at CUNY. They have sadly watched the quality of the schools and classrooms drop dramatically. Forgive me for stating the truth, but the lower standards, in our area, have been forced by black demands and discipline has hit bottom because of their alleged rights. Everyone is afraid to control minorities. That’s not being racist. That’s stating the truth, which everyone else wants to ignore, and which results in no positive changes.

    BTW, you incorrectly use the term racist when you seem to mean bigot. There is a difference between being a bigot and being honest, the latter which is necessary to attack root problems.

    Restore discipline in the schools and empahize scholarship with no grade inflation, and the schools can return to something respectable and worth supporting with tax money.

    - – -

    I’m looking forward to a big turnout for the fund raiser for my travel fees! Good luck on it! And, maybe Celeste can set up a fund for all of you who want to donate and come listen to me. Warning, there will be a metal detector at the door.

  29. Woody Says:

    Do you like innovations in teaching? Is this anyone that you know?

    Third Grade Teacher’s New Approach to Sex Ed….

    Police arrested a third grade teacher Thursday after they say he exposed himself while parked outside school. Joshua Thomas, 32, was caught with his pants down fondling himself while sitting in his black 1999 Jeep Cherokee outside Hempstead High School, according to Nassau County police. The lewd act took place in “full public view of children walking past the vehicle,” police said.

    Thank goodness he wasn’t trying to teach abstinence (oh, horrors).

  30. Woody Says:

    I wonder how much worse this would be if school administrators really cracked down.

    Why are black kids punished more often at school?

    School administrators previously could rely on common sense and discipline to keep order in the schools. Then, things changed and all sorts of detailed rules had to be put into place and police needed to be stationed in the hallways. Why? Because certain groups of kids did not conduct themselves within societal norms and were disrupting the educational process.

    It’s still not enough as trouble-makers continue to be protected by the politically-correct, who are more interested in approaching problems with phony solutions rather than being realistic and address what is really wrong. To them, it has to always be racism, even when it’s not.

    For instance, in the past, no kids would have came to school with baggy pants hanging half way down their rear-ends. Today, there has to be a rule for that, and more rules have to be put in place as new idiotic offenses appear of which no one could dream up.

    The parents, rather than respecting the need for school discipline and order, protest against the schools and bring in the ACLU and liberal press, subverting the education process.

    If you want better schools and want to cut down on mounds of administrative work and enforcement and financial waste, work on changing cultural attitudes rather than bringing down the schools and running good families off to saner educational options.

    Sorry, if you’re offended. It’s the truth.

  31. reg Says:

    There’s an excellent new film soon to be released that sums up Woody’s concerns about what’s been happening to our schools in recent decades – the trailer is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW1_A9-kBNw

  32. reg Says:

    Oh, and before I forget, “Get off my lawn!!!”

  33. Woody Says:

    I saw it coming. This was only the start of the school problems: VIDEO

  34. reg Says:

    As a general observation, spurred by the serendipity of reading about something entirely unrelated, it’s interesting in the soundbite, knee-jerk rhetoric wars to consider where the contemporary poster-child for Grievance-Mongering Black BogeyMen, Reverend Al Sharpton (can we conjure anyone to Sharpton’s “left” ? I’m sure we could, but few people would know the Perp’s name) falls on the current “education reform” debates and in the Great Bill Cosby Scare (which conservatives rather stupidly thought Cosby was taking their “side”, insofar as they have one on issues related to black folk that isn’t a strain of recycled racism.) Sharpton is working with Michelle Rhee, the bane of the DC teachers union, on her version of ed reform and Sharpton fully backed up Cosby when he was criticized by a few outliers in academia like Michael Eric Dyson after going public – using some unfortunate language that left him open to cheap shots – with a discussion that is a commonplace within the black community. So if “even Al Sharpton” is ahead of whatever curve rightwingers are trying to bend this discussion to, what relevance do they have other than their own version of…uh…grievance-mongering ? My point is that simplistic, hyper-partisan, broad-brush characterizations of certain problems – as in their having something to do with “the ACLU”- isn’t an expression of serious concern or even an indication of remote connection to the reality. It’s self-serving, masturbatgory and a distraction for anyone who is trying to develop an informed approach to complex issues.

  35. Woody Says:

    Wow, reg. You used a lot of words to say that you’re lost.

    First, perhaps to Sharpton’s surprise, the road to reform doesn’t pass through the teacher unions. They are part of the problem and throw up roadblocks.

    On Cosby, I never looked at him as taking sides, but rather saying to the black community what white leaders had been intimidated into not saying and that black leaders had refused to do. As long as race hate is a cottage industry for some, like Sharpton and Jackson, they don’t want it to be resolved.

    For your “complex issues,” sometimes you have to go back to “simplistic characterizations,” or square one, when the liberal esoteric discussion has gotten so far off track that the “informed approach” needs to be shaken back into reality and so that it quits wasting time and money while more lives of young people go down the drain. Making excuses and blaming slavery, a typical approach, only makes the problems with the black culture more entrenched.

    People like me, who bring up these real problems and suggest possible solutions are trying to do more for the black community than so-called “well-meaning” left-wingers who refuses to consider root problems and deal only in dredged up surface issues to avoid the difficult choices and responsibilities that must be faced and to let others “feel good” rather than feel energized to help.

    And, screaming “racist” at people trying to help, which seems to be your “informed approach,” only drives them away and drives people like you further from actually allowing good to result.

    So, you can get off of your high horse, because you’re part of the failed philosophy that has gotten us no educational progress, in fact, has achieved educational regression, in the last four to five decades. It’s time to deal with harsh realities to make a positive change. The longer that you and the left delays, the worse off another generation will be.

  36. Listener Says:

    Consultants? I used to think that was an honorable activity for people who had particular areas of expertise, but after years of watching consultants operate in higher education, I’m less inclined to think so. Seems institutions, and their associated organizations, hire consultants to sell an idea they can’t, or won’t, sell themselves. Often, that idea has a highly politicized context. So the “head shed” goes out, finds some consultant who is at least 100 miles away (the distance seems to lend some level of gravitas, I suppose) to come in and sell it for them. I think consultants are an expensive way to sell what ought to be accomplished through political activism. It’s a short cut that turns out to be costly in more ways than just dollars.

  37. Woody Says:

    Listener, sometimes it’s a matter of confidence in the source. I’ve made suggestions to clients and have had their staff tell me, “I’ve been telling him the same thing for months, but he wouldn’t listen to me so he paid someone else before he would accept it.”

  38. Woody Says:

    reg, here is a link to a book and sections of it by Michael Eric Dyson, whom you referenced, on Bill Cosby, Is Bill Cosby Right? I had never heard of Dyson, so I glanced at what he had to say.

    At the bottom of page 182, he attacks Cosby saying that Cosby doesn’t do enough to blame whites and enough to force them to step up to the plate, as if enough hasn’t been done already. It’s just more of passing the blame so as to not hold blacks accountable for their own positions in life. Sometimes, it takes more effort to get out of work than to do the job.

    That is some of the nonsense that you seem to embrace and that has reached a point where people have grown tired of it and see the “blame philosophy” for the failure that it is and the failed lives that it perpetuates. It’s pretty bad to tell people that they can’t do something on their own because others have it easier or stand in the way.

  39. reg Says:

    You obviously can’t read, because you don’t get my comment if you think I’m “embracing” Dyson. Also I’ve lampooned Dyson for years in blog comments threads that you infest, so if you knew anything about my views on this you’d know I have no use for Dyson.

    So you get pulled off the stage with the big hook – another epic fail at responding coherently in the context of these discussions. Sorry…

  40. reg Says:

    Also, #35 comment referencing Sharpton reveals, again, that you don’t understand anything you’re responding to, but are resorting to your knee-jerk bullshit. The almost willful ignorance on display here – not to mention the incoherence – is stunning.

  41. reg Says:

    You know what, Woody. This last series of comments proves that discussiing something with you is pointless, because you either aren’t smart enough, concerned enough or honest enough to understand what you are responding to. You’re like one of those dolls where you pull a string and the same lines get repeated, over and over. You read a comment that dismisses Michael Eric Dyson’s views and then ascribe them to me. You read a comment about Al Sharpton’s position on educational reform and invert it to seem as though he’s in bed with teacher’s unions. Aside from the fact that you’re an extremely and deliberatley offensive and, frankly, quite boring feature of these threads, you aren’t competent enough to engage in rational discourse. It’s always all about you and a set of severely circumscribed, formulaic wingnut talking points repeated endlessly.

    I made a resolution to ignore you in January. I’m going to do my best to go back to that decision which I foolishly abandoned. Don’t even mention my name in your posts and I won’t mention yours. It wil be better for everyone. You can have the last word in slinging pejoratives, because obviously you need that. Give it you last best shot. Enjoy.

  42. Woody Says:

    reg, I’m not taking a last shot, but I will correct you, once again.

    In my comment on #35, in response to what you wrote, I didn’t say that you agreed with Sharpton or Dyson. I discussed them because you brought them up. In #38, I associated one paragraph from Dyson’s book with you, because you do embrace the blame philosophy.

    It’s YOU, if anyone, who doesn’t read and understand my comments and comes up with your knee-jerk responses. I would say that’s becuse of stupidity but, as a benefit of doubt, it could be your emotions out of control.

    Once again, you prove my point about yelling “racist,” a sure-fire way to shut up the average person who is so afraid of being labeled as such but could have been of help to blacks. But, that doesn’t work on me, because I don’t care how much you say it or how stupid it is. People who resort to that tactic are out of rational discussion points.

    I think it’s great that you won’t respond to me. It will cut thousands of profane words out of this and Cooper’s sites, which, if you haven’t notices, all come from you. However, when I catch you in another of your insane and inaccurate rants, I’ll present another side for which you are welcomed and encouraged to ignore.

    To give you something to think about, here is a video in which you will probably find, like everything else, something to find objectionable, even though it’s about a successful blind black man. Frontline – Brother Clayton Bigsby You have such a difficult time in seeing good in people.

    It’s hard to believe that your father was a preacher. Despite all of the people he helped, he lost the soul of his son to the devil.

  43. Woody Says:

    For us simple people who don’t understand “complex issues” and the “informed approach”:

    Teacher Unions vs. Poor Kids (Selections)

    The “education president” remained silent when his congressional Democrats essentially killed the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) in the city where he now lives and works.

    Of the 1,700 students, starting in kindergarten, in this private-school voucher program, 90 percent are black and 9 percent are Hispanic.

    “Because they saw it as a threat to their political power, Democrats in Washington appear willing to extinguish the dreams of a few thousand poor kids to protect their political base.”

    Teachers unions are a major part of that base. Among those demanding that Congress kill the voucher scholarship program was the largest teachers union, the National Education Association.

    As New York Times columnist David Brooks noted, the congressional Democrats even refused to grandfather in the kids already in the voucher program, “so those children will be ripped away from their mentors and friends … .” President Obama, he added, “has, in fact, been shamefully quiet about this.”

    In a March 2 editorial, the Washington Post — not a conservative newspaper — summed up the Congressional Democrats’ scholarship shutdown in these words: “It’s about politics and the stranglehold the teachers unions have on the Democratic Party. Why else has so much time and effort gone into trying to kill off what, in the grand scheme of government spending, is a tiny program?”

    As one of the simple people, I previously wrote, “…the road to reform doesn’t pass through the teacher unions. They are part of the problem and throw up roadblocks.”

    Will someone wiser explain to me what I’m missing here and how the Democrats and teacher unions are somehow being supportive of our students and are part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

  44. Woody Says:

    Simple minds are confused.

    This is what I recently wrote:
    And, screaming “racist” at people trying to help, which seems to be your “informed approach,” only drives them away and drives people like you further from actually allowing good to result.

    …and, I read this about Michael Meyers, a former assistant director of the NAACP and personal assistant to its late executive director, Roy Wilkins, who was tossed out of the NAACP annual meeting for wanting to stop the demogoguery.
    Meyers, a widely publicized defender of the First Amendment, had publicly objected to “this exercise in sheer racial rhetoric,” adding: “Demagoguery is not the standard of effective leadership in addressing serious social justice issues.” Meyers has often written and lectured on race relations, police abuse, housing and education.

    How are things helped by shouting down people by calling them racists or by throwing out sincere people who call that practice into question? It seems as an attempt to keep out views that actually might help society and schools by those who simply, I mean “complexly,” pretend to care.

    The problem is less with schools than with people in society, some of whom will remain nameless, who won’t let schools progress beyond the personal power quests and biases of those in the more “informed” segments.

    Maybe I’m simple, but I see who and what are the real obstacles to education reform and improvement, and it’s not the simple people.

  45. reg Says:

    Next line of Hentoff’s Cato Institute screed: “….(Obama’s) Secretary of Education opposed the shutdown of Opportunity Scholarships.”

    Bigger picture here: http://tinyurl.com/dh4am4

  46. Woody Says:

    That article referenced by “that one” is typical arrogance of liberals who don’t want parents, or frankly anyone, to have a choice and want to protect the failed policies for sacred special interests. In their view, govenment should make, and must make, all the choices for us.

    The writer provided no evidence that vouchers are a failed experiment and left out a decent analysis of the votes in which teacher unions campaigned to deceive the voters, who were already at a disadvantage having been educated in government schools and really didn’t know that the programs worked. It’s like taking a poll on the economy with people who never took economics in college, like some here.

    An enlightened and desperate minority trying to help their children should not be held back, especially if the cost is less to taxpayers.

    Funny. This is what Jay Mathews said of the Washington D.C. public schools when part of a panel defending the Obama’s decision to not send their girls there: JAY MATTHEWS: In terms of achievement rate, dropout rates, test scores, they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel. So, why doom other kids to that when there are options?

    Frankly, it comes down to this…public schools don’t want competition, because their systems can’t compete and they provide much less while requiring more money. Mediocrity is the norm with them rather than excellence. It protects bad teachers.

    What’s funnier, is that the author writes a sad tale about kids having to take a long bus ride to another school, even though he is part of the same group of nuts who have pushed cross-town busing for decades, with the assumption that black kids cannot learn unless they are in classes with white kids.

    That article is really a sad and pathetic attempt to brush over the truth and block choices for parents, and it’s typical of those who scan for articles by liberals as if they represented something thoughtful and accurate. It’s too easy to see through it.

    Parents should not allow liberal media writers or liberal politicians to decide where kids should go to school. Let the parents decide, and vote out politicians who want more central control.

    From the provided article, even the first commenter, who opposes vouchers, is so far off from human nature that it’s a laugh. “The assumption everyone tends to make is that people naturally want the best for their offspring. I postulate that it isn’t that way at all.”

    The next one is more clear on the truth: “Vouchers do not change the public’s commitment to educating children, it changes who controls the money–which means what a school teaches, how it chooses teachers, how it arranges its schedule, its number of days, its textbooks, its heritage, its discipline, its soul. Jay Mathews, of all people, knows better than to dismiss the promise of vouchers to bring opportunity to D.C. kids who otherwise will remain trapped in a failing system.”

    I’ll take the conclusions of Milton Friedman, who proposed vouchers, over Jay Mathews any day…and, it doesn’t require googling for another article. Knowing what’s right in this case only takes logic, common sense, and independent thinking.

  47. Clay Landon Says:

    Dear Woody,

    A donut sale to pay for your expenses? You should live so long.

    Good luck with him, reg. I’m out.

    Sincerely,

    Clay Landon
    LAUSD Teacher

  48. Woody Says:

    How classless, Clay, not to make a pun. First you invite me to speak to your class, with me graciously donating my time, but you also demand that I pay for the out-of-pocket expenses. It wouldn’t cost as much as you’ve wasted in union dues for the union to mess up the schools. Hey, check the union retirement plan for my travel money, if the mob hasn’t already cleaned it out.

    On the other hand, we could set up an internet conference between the kids and me, but, sadly, you’ve shown that you will pull the plug when things don’t go your way, which they wouldn’t.

    I guess you’re going to have to eat the donuts that are being delivered to your school for the fund raiser, now cancelled. I hope you have a big supply of insulin. (You never got my joke about the KK Kruellers.)

    Sorry to see you leave. The truth about teacher unions is pretty tough to take for a disciple of theirs.

  49. Woody Says:

    Clay, if you’re the same Clay Landon who has done some blogging posts on baseball, then maybe you’re okay, after all.

  50. Nicolle Says:

    Celeste-

    I know I am a little late in getting to this post… I just wanted to alert you to the fact that the schools being hit the hardest are the ones in South Central. At Jefferson alone, we are slated to lose at least 20 of our teachers. The numbers only get worse when you check out the feeder schools to Jeff.

    This is a civil rights issue. Where is the indignation? Where is the justice?

  51. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Social Justice Shorts: Cops, Pink Slips & the 1st Amendment Says:

    [...] in light of recent stories about what appears to be piles of wasted cash on such line items as high-priced consultants and school construction cost [...]

  52. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » LAUSD’s Biggest Public Works Project in U.S. History? Says:

    [...] high costs of building are not covered by the bond money. There is, for example, the matter of the outside consultant boondoggle that was reported late last [...]

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