|Yes, my hat is sideways|
Outgoing school board member left out a lot (click here): In the Dec. 16 guest column, “A 12-year education in public school reform," Pasadena Unified School District board member and Sierra Madre Elementary representative Ed Honowitz presents a laundry list of things he believes occurred under his watch. As a parent whose first of three children hit that same 12-year watermark through the entire period, I am a knowledgeable consumer, and I don't see there's been positive change. Honowitz vigilantly supported programs that served his own political belief system and established a dominant philosophical position for those interests when he makes his move from the education arena into the next juncture. It's what Honowitz fails to mention and his revisionism that are most enlightening.
We're to assume that after serving 12 years on the school board, Honowitz is still receiving “an education” in the working mechanics of reform. This faux ideal — that “we're all learning together” — sounds more like a drug recovery program than an educational growth model. As a board veteran, Honowitz is neither novice nor learner. He's a leader with a specific agenda and, promising to remain active in the future via Community Schools, he'll likely return as a private corporation poised with rhetoric promoting the common good. The Pasadena City Plan is designed precisely for this type of consultant to flourish.
Under Honowitz's watch, PUSD enrollment has decreased approximately 25%. Enrollment for most ethnic groups has decreased, most dramatically African American enrollment, which decreased at a rate five times higher than other populations. If the measure of success in public education is enrollment, these statistics demonstrate failure. Since 2005, PUSD suspension rates have been two times higher than Los Angeles County's, with African American males and special education students most negatively impacted.
A formal request for censure was requested by parents of a disabled child citing protocol violations that Honowitz, as regional delegate to the California School Board Assn., was familiar with. His continued endorsement of CSBA fails to justify the $35,000 dues and travel expenses paid out of PUSD funds over the two years since CSBA Executive Director Scott Plotkin resigned, having lied about using a company credit card in a casino.
Historically, Honowitz focused on luring investors and capital to PUSD by citing decreased funding for public education. With Americans with Disabilities Act funds drying up, the asking of alternate sources to compensate for revenues lost because of low enrollment is absurd and equates to setting a plate for a guest you know isn't coming to dinner.
Citing programs he believes to have initiated, Honowitz fails to disclose they existed in prior forms. Without demonstrating how these innovative programs support student achievement, or whether they've brought students back to PUSD, or how they'll retain students who never left in the first place, we are simply served old wine in new flasks.
In celebrating that PUSD schools reached 800 API, he fails to mention this trend is the common target all schools will eventually meet — yet one that no PUSD high school has achieved. Has Honowitz forgotten them? Does he even care?
Honowitz for years neglected Sierra Madre families who were held hostage trying to receive enrollment information until pledging $130 to the annual school fund — overseen by the Honowitz-affiliated PEF, while these shanghaied donations funded time-out rooms which denied educational access.
The summer school programs he lamented aren't gone; they're available through the PEF for about $400 per course.
A 21st-century resume was presented last week, as Honowitz looks “... forward to our joint City Council/School Board meeting in February that will institutionalize these growing partnerships.” Readying to reap the harvest sown for the last 12 years, aligning the Community Schools agenda to the Pasadena's housing proposals, and with a significant population of children having already left PUSD, Honowitz now sits poised to exact the same exodus from the entire city.
Alarcon child endangerment case isn't felony status, D.A. says (click here): The Los Angeles County district attorney's office concluded Thursday that the child endangerment investigation involving city commissioner Andrea Alarcon does not rise to the level of felony charges and sent it to the city attorney's office for possible misdemeanor prosecution.
Michael Gargiulo, head deputy of the district attorney's Family Violence Unit, said in a two-page report that Alarcon left her 11-year-old daughter unattended for three hours on Nov. 16, the night of a gala at City Hall. Because the girl was found by security officers within 45 minutes, she was not in circumstances that would have caused "great bodily harm" — conditions that could have made Alarcon, who is president of the Board of Public Works, the subject of a felony prosecution, he wrote.
"This matter is more appropriately filed" as a misdemeanor child endangerment case, "which does not require that the circumstances be likely to produce great bodily injury or death," Gargiulo wrote. A spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey would not discuss the matter further.
The LAPD initially referred its investigation into Alarcon to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich on Nov. 19. At that time, Trutanich referred the matter to the district attorney's office on the grounds that Alarcon is a client of the city attorney and that her case could pose a potential conflict of interest.
William Carter, Trutanich's chief deputy, said his office would "more than likely" refer it to state Atty. Gen, Kamala Harris.
Alarcon, an appointee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was a block from City Hall with two adults when she was approached by her daughter, the district attorney's report states. Alarcon, 33, instructed her daughter to go back to City Hall and wait for her — and told her she was "walking two individuals to their car and would be back in 10 minutes," Gargiulo wrote.
The girl returned to City Hall. But Alarcon was not located until after 1 a.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Little Tokyo, the report said. Alarcon "appeared intoxicated" when she arrived at the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division to get her daughter, Gargiulo wrote. Law enforcement sources previously have told The Times that Alarcon did not show up until about 2 a.m.
Alarcon did not respond to a request for comment.
(Mod: Please note that felony prosecutions to do apply to any member of Napoleon Villaraigosa's royal retinue.)
Newt Gingrich: Marriage Equality Inevitable, OK (click here): Longtime social conservative Newt Gingrich has made a surprising admission, saying he accepts marriage equality as inevitable and he’s OK with it.
Voters’ legalization of same-sex marriage in three states in November’s election changed the debate over the issue, and conservatives have to come to terms with it, the former House speaker and Republican presidential aspirant told The Huffington Post. “It is in every family,” he said. “It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to ... accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period.”
The thrice-married Gingrich, a convert to Roman Catholicism, said he recognizes the distinction between religious and civil marriage. He and his church consider the former to be limited to male-female couples, but he has no problem with the state giving legal recognition to same-sex pairs, he said.
This is a significant departure from Gingrich’s previous stance; just this year, while seeking the Republican presidential nomination, he told religious right supporters, “The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization.” He also signed an Iowa conservative group’s pledge to support the Defense of Marriage Act and to seek a federal constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.
(Mod: Kind of a gutsy move on Newt's part. It has always been my observation that a substantial percentage of the gay community is, by nature, conservative. Even amongst those who are not in the closet. Should the Republican Party ever climb off its social conservative pedestal I believe they would find a sincere welcome there.)
Pot farms wreaking havoc on Northern California environment (click here): State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.
In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants — mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it.
"That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game. "You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water.… This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover."
The marijuana boom that came with the sudden rise of medical cannabis in California has wreaked havoc on the fragile habitats of the North Coast and other parts of California. With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.
(Mod: Damn hippies.)