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“Learning from L.A.” Recognized as Publication of Year

Posted on | May 5, 2010 | Comments Off on “Learning from L.A.” Recognized as Publication of Year

The American Education Research Association interest group on District Research and Reform has named Learning from L.A.: Institutional Change in Public Education as its publication of the year.  This is a great and congenial group that has the wisdom of beginning its business meeting with good wine and cheese followed by a first-rate discussion of federal education policy by a panel that included my CGU colleague Carl Cohn.  LLA has also been recognized as one of the academic books of the year by Choice magazine, a publication of the American Library Association.

Also, Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) has published a policy brief based on the book, which can be freely downloaded. And, the book has its own Facebook page that I hope will become a discussion site as it develops.

The policy brief summarizes the book and its advocacy for the five policy levers that will move the Los Angeles Unified School District beyond what we call “permanent crisis”:

Signing books at the Harvard Education Press booth at AERA

  1. Legislation to allow LAUSD to create autonomous sub-districts.
  2. Send money directly to schools.
  3. Create positive incentives for students, teachers and administrators.
  4. Invest in a technological infrastructure for student learning.
  5. Deliberately add a variety of learning options and support choice among them.

PACE has also published a guide to candidates with a handful of the best ideas about what needs to be changed in California Public Education.  It’s Reforming Education in California: A Guide for Candidates and Citizens, reiterates much of what policy wonks have been saying for several years: that schools should get more flexibility but that they should target their resources, and that policies should be designed around continuous improvement.

So far, there is no evidence that any candidates are listening.  As John Fensterwald reports, Whitman and Poizner continue view charter schools as magic bullets despite evidence to the contrary, and their campaigns are a marvel in superficiality.


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Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'


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