Friday, June 21, 2013

Reforming the Parent Trigger Law



LAUSD Board Meeting June 18, 2013

Mr. Zimmer's Resolution calls for reforming the Parent Trigger Law.  Please read it!  I urge school districts to adopt similar resolutions to bring order to the chaos that the Parent Trigger Law brings to local communities. 


Item 45.     Mr.Zimmer - Comprehensive Information for Parent Initiated School Transformation (Noticed June 18, 2013, 9am)
Whereas, The Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District recognizes the essential role of parents and legal guardians in every aspect of their child's education and in the successful transformation of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District;

Whereas, California State Education Code 53300-53303 (The Parent Empowerment Act) allows for parents at persistently lowest achieving schools to trigger options for school transformation if over 50% of parents or legal guardians at a campus sign a petition calling for the implementation of one of four interventions;

Whereas, California State Education Code 53300-53303 only allows parents and legal guardians who sign the petition to vote for the selected transformation model;

Whereas, California Education Code 53300-53303 does not currently require public meetings or other mechanisms to ensure accurate and balanced information about school performance or transformation options be provided to all stakeholders during the petition process;

Whereas, Two District elementary schools have been transformed through this process in the 2013-14 school year and the Board assumes there will be several attempts to transform District schools in the 2014-15 school year;

Whereas, Very limited information about the school and monitoring of the signature gathering process was presented to the Board for 24th Street and Weigand Avenue Elementary Schools;

Whereas, The Board has not adopted specific policies and guidelines for receiving petitions and validating the transformation process; and

Whereas, The Superintendent has not issued clear guidelines for principals and school site personnel regarding protocols and operational procedures for each stage of the parent trigger process; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District directs the Office of General Counsel and the Superintendent to submit the following information to the Board for each future transformation petition that is presented to the Board:

1. Independent verification of the signatures and the signature gathering process

2.  Evidence of public notice and a summary of information presented at a public meeting held in the school community detailing accurate information about the school and the available options for transformation

3.  An analysis of five years of school data

4.  A summary of interventions attempted at the school site and an analysis the success or failure of these attempted interventions

5.  An analysis of school report card data and/or school climate survey data:

Resolved further, That the Superintendent bring guidelines and operational procedures for school site personnel to use during parent trigger process for review by the Board at the first scheduled business meeting of the 2013-14 school year; and, be it finally

Resolved, That the Board urges the Superintendent and the Office of Government Relations staff to seek legislative changes to California State Education Code 53300-53303 that will better serve all parents and legal guardians in the transformation process. These changes should include, but not be limited to:

1.  Provisions that ensure all parents and legal guardians (not solely those who sign the petition) be allowed meaningful participation in all aspects of the transformation process and vote on the transformation option;

2.  Provisions that ensure accurate and independently verifiable information about school performance and transformation options that are available to all parents; and

3.  Provisions that safeguard against manipulation of families in the process and validate training of all Parent Empowerment Act Signature gathers.



LAUSD 6-18-2013 board meeting. Item 45 from timeline 7:10:00 to 8:04:00. Mr. Zimmer: Comprehensive Information For Parent -Initiated School Transformation Resolution. It calls for reforming the Parent Trigger Law. 

http://lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

Parent to LAUSD School Board: Please Protect Us with Fairness
http://buff.ly/11RaRd4

Sunday, April 7, 2013

True Parent Empowerment



Florida is reconsidering a bill that has been commonly called the Parent Trigger law.  California was the first state to actually make Parent Trigger a law.  The law has been spun to present a picture of empowered parents uniting a community to save a failing school.  In my experience, there has never been anything further from the truth. 

I was the school board president of the Adelanto Elementary School District when Parent Revolution, a lobbyist group, bullied our small California school district with lawsuits into accepting the parent trigger petition. 

The Parent Trigger Law essentially states that the signatures of a simple majority of parents in a failing school can force the district into one of five intervention models.

The intervention models are as followed:
1.  Transformation - Replace the principal.
2.  Turn Around - Replace the principal and 50% of all staff.
3.  Restart - Convert the school into a charter.
4.  Closure - Close the school.
5.  Alternative Governance - Any other major restructuring of the school's governance.

Parent Revolution devised a two-petition strategy to get parent signatures.  The first petition, the popular choice among the parents, was described as being along the lines of the Alternative Governance model.  The second petition was considered to be the back up plan and called for converting the school into a charter school.  All the parents from both sides of the issue told the school board that they did not want Desert Trails Elementary School to be a charter school.  Yet it was the charter school petition that was submitted to the board.

Many parents felt that the signature process misled them.  They asked the school board to remove their signatures from the petition.  We honored their request and the number of signatures fell below the simple majority needed to make the petition valid.  That was not to be the end.  The board supported many of the reforms mentioned by the parents and set in motion action to implement them.  Parent Revolution was not satisfied and took the district to court.  The judge ruled that it was not up to the district to allow parents to change their mind and revoke their signatures – even if they felt misled.

Just to be clear, the district worked with the parents and teacher union to bring reforms to Desert Trails. The reforms included adding instructional minutes to the school day, a new curriculum, staff development, an infusion of technology, a memorandum of understanding with the teacher union, signed pledges by teachers to support these reforms, a school site coach to support the reforms, an elected council to oversee the reforms, and of course, an excellent principal to make it happen. In short, what the parents wanted.

Politics and the law threw all that away to bring a charter that only a minority group of parents were even eligible to help select.  Yes, only the parents that signed the petition were allowed to vote for the charter school selection and only a fraction actually voted.  That is not bringing a community together, but creating an elitist group to wrest public schools away from the community.  I am convinced that only the private sector without public funds and grants from corporate reformers will provide an alternative education that is re-imagined for the century we live in.

Just to clarify. I do not support privatizing public schools. The management of public schools should not be handed over to private companies. If they were any good they wouldn't need to hijack public schools to get publicly funded tuition. I'm just at the point where I know that the creativity and innovation needed to bring education into the 21st century will not come from the entrenched bureaucracy and politics of public education.

I’m promoting a radical change in education.  Consider the technology we have today.  Research what we now know about the brain and learning.  Look at where our current school system is inadequate.  How would you re-imagine education if a system had to be created today?

I thought of Coach Lerning Academies.  Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education. Regionally accredited independent studies schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery. It is still in the developmental stage. Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies. Coach Michael Lerning is the central character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

Parents and students enjoy a lot of flexibility with this model.  Most of the content delivery is online with gamified story lines.  Students have access to this 24 hours a day.  Parents have the flexibility of signing their children up for enrichment activities at any of the Official Coach Lerning Academies.  Students earn credit by demonstrating mastery of content through problem-solving projects at any of the academies.  Mastery of content is reported with earned digital badges that list actual accomplishments and not by report cards and vague inaccurate grades.  Grade levels are determined by mastery level – not by age group.  This is real parental choice.  This is real parent empowerment.  This is a real 21st century concept of education.

Alas, it is not currently a reality.  It is a concept that I am working on and pushing for acceptance.  You can be an early supporter by Liking our Facebook page.  If you want a radical change in education – start here. 


We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.






Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Elevator Pitch


I recently read an interesting article about crafting the essential elevator pitch.  An elevator pitch is basically a tight speech for a call to action to a busy investor in the time it takes an elevator to travel a few levels.  Usually the call to action is to set up a meeting to consider investing in the idea pitched.
I am not calling for capitalization.  We are still a ways away from that.  Instead I want to bring awareness to how Official Coach Lerning Academies is a unique 21st century concept of education.  So here is my Elevator Pitch:
We need a 21st century change in education. Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.
My name is Carlos Mendoza.  I’m a  20-year veteran educator with administrative experience.  I have served on the school boards of Adelanto Elementary School District and Victor Valley Christian School. My expertise is in alternative education, special education, education media design, and technology. I have a traditional Master’s degree in Education and a nontraditional online Master of Science degree in Educational Media Design and Technology. My goal is to promote a radical change in education. I am the founder and lead innovator of Official Coach Lerning Academies.
Our current school system is based on a late 19th century model of industrialization that no longer exists today.  The factory jobs students were being prepared to fill are now gone.  No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, Waivers, Vouchers and other federal programs are screaming that our school system is not working.
Yet schooling has not fundamentally changed in over a hundred years.  Private schools have not progressed any further than public schools.  To put it simply, our society has made advancement in technology that has yet to reach the average classroom.
Official Coach Lerning Academies is different. It has re-imagined education for the 21st century.  It is the first of its kind to offer education developed for this century.
Official Coach Lerning Academies break out of the late 19th century mold with private regionally accredited independent studies schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery.
Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies. Coach Michael Lerning is the central character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.
While education reformers are wasting time trying to make an outdated school system relevant – Official Coach Lerning Academies can open everywhere with the ease of an Internet connection and a local facilitator. Official Coach Lerning Academies is a school system with the flexibility of a tutoring center.  The bulk of the instruction is done online with gamified story lines.  Enrolled students can earn credit by completing problem-based projects.  They can visit any academy and depending on the size signup for various enrichment activities and submit their projects.
Most students rather not attend school – it is boring.  It is designed for one-size fits all.  They go through the motions of learning to get through the system.  Our students are attracted by compelling gamified story lines, but are enrolled for the flexible quality education that was once reserved for royalty that could afford to commission tutors to educate their children.  Universal membership with Coach Learning Academies with online gamified learning and project-based mastery is unique, but totally doable in the 21st century.
Look at our school system today. You know a change has to happen.  That change for the better can happen – with your help.  All you have to do is Like Us on Facebook.  Yes, click here and Like our Facebook page.  That is it. And you will be an early supporter making a difference in education.
We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

5 key reasons we are poised to take the next step




“There is nothing more resistant to change than the public school system.” - Joel Klein


Joel Klein is the CEO of Amplify, an innovative education technology company.  He was the Chancellor of New York City Public Schools.  He was on the Foreign Relations Committee that described our public school systems as national security risks.  In other words, he is a mover and shaker in education.

Much of what he says about education is spot on correct.  The same can be said about U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Governor Jeb Bush.  They can all agree that accountability with standardized testing is narrowing the curriculum and forcing teachers to teach to the test, and still push policies that make it the law of the land.

In a recent article with Ed Tech Magazine, however, he stuck to areas that we can mostly agree on.  21st century learning is not simply about adopting technology for education.  The right innovative technologies for education are tools that empower students to learn.  From there, Joel Klein offered 5 key reasons why our national school system is poised to take the next step toward full-scale technology integration.

1.     The Common Core
2.     Economics
3.     More Blended Instruction
4.     Younger Instructors
5.     Investor Interest

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education and has been influenced by all of these reasons.

1.  Common Core

Common Core is a set of education standards adopted by states.  I remember being excited about Core Knowledge and the adoption of state standards.  For the first time, educators were able to agree on at least a state level what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level. Common Core brings this uniformity to the national level. 

Official Coach Lerning Academies does not lock students at grade levels by age.  We do, however, assess mastery by comparing actual performance with the Common Core and state standards.  This makes our program universally acceptable across states.
2.  Economics

Our current education system is based on a late 19th century industrial age based model of schooling meant to prepare students for simple factory work.  It is based on an economic system of mass production, monopoly, and profit maximization through cost cutting and reduction of staff.   That system of schooling is not working well in the 21st century. 

Innovation in technology has brought us Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft.  Students now have direct access to information anywhere (except most public schools) through tablets and smart phones.  Technology has also provided analytics that measure individual student progress as it happens.  No longer need to wait for the return of state tests to know how a student performed the previous school year.  21st century is not about mass production of students.

Official Coach Lerning Academies provide options for students to chose from to personalize their learning.  Students also have a say in their challenged-based projects.  Mobile learning technologies also provide flexibility that includes universal membership in all of the academies as opposed to a single brick and mortar schoolhouse.

3.  More Blended Learning.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a firm supporter of blended learning.   Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.  We blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery at our centers.  In one form or another, we provide education 24 hours a day for seven days a week all year.  And students have universal membership at all of the academies!

4.  Younger Instructors

As an educator, I know better than to discount the value of veteran master teachers.  Younger does not mean better.  The next generation of educators, however, must be trained differently.  The focus must be on students learning and not teachers covering content.  Future educators must be facilitators and coaches.  They must have, among others skills, the ability to code and create interactive digital desktop authorship products.

Official Coach Lerning Academies are regionally accredited independent study schools with facilitators and tutors to guide students through their education experience. 

5.  Investor Interest

There has been significant interest and investment in developing educational technologies.  I will honestly state that Official Coach Lerning Academies has not yet develop a single innovative software for education.  We rely on what has already been created by others and out on the market.  We do not intend to recreate the wheel.  Instead, we rely on 21st century mashup of technologies to make what is uniquely our own.  Anyone can do it.  At the very least, we aim to show that we can do it.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  To learn more, please continue to visit our blog and follow Official Coach Lerning Academies on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you.













Saturday, January 26, 2013

What is Andragogy?




What is Andragogy?

Ferdi Serim, author of Digital Learning: Strengthening and Assessing 21st Century Skills, defines andragogy as a theory of how humans learn.  This is an important term to add to your vocabulary.  Up until recently, pedagogy (how we teach) has been the dominant term in major discussions on education. The pivot in the 21st century is away from centering on teaching and looking closer to how we learn.

Ferdi Serim has listed six (6) tenets of andragogy – how we learn:

1.     Need to Know (Why You Do)
2.     Experience (Including Error)
3.     Readiness (Just in Time)
4.     Orientation (Problem Centered)
5.      Motivation (Internal)
6.     Self-Concept (In Charge of Your Own Learning)

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education and addresses all of these tenets.

1.  Need to know (Why You Do): 

Educators often have to address the question of why do we need to learn this or when will I ever use that because of our fragmental approach to teaching.  Official Coach Lerning Academies use compelling story lines to provide context (a problem to solve) that motivates and guide students through the learning experience.   Coach Michael Lerning is the central character, but there are several others that provide hilarious misadventures in learning.

2.  Experience (Including Error):

Official Coach Lerning Academies allow students to develop deeper understanding by learning from their mistakes without penalties.  Students are not graded in the traditional method of allowing mediocre work (a D+ for example) to pass as acceptable work for credit.  Students must demonstrate mastery through problem-solving project-based assignments.  Students earn badges of achievements when they demonstrate mastery.  The lessons learned while earning badges cannot be quantified or graded but provide the best kind of education.

3. Readiness (Just in Time):

Most students study under the premise that anything and everything covered in class might be on a test (Just in case studying).  The result is called load and dump.  In other words, they study everything that might be on a test and then forget the information after the test.  The information that they were studying had no relevance to anything outside of the test and, therefore, no longer important enough to remember.  This is not a conscious decision among students, but a result from how our brain is wired to learn and remember what is important.

Official Coach Lerning Academies provides relevance by putting problem-solving projects in the context of a compelling story line.  Students study and learn what they need to know to solve a problem and complete a task. 

4.  Orientation (Problem Centered):

Marc-AndrĂ© Lalande invented a new word – Schoolisyzation. 


“- n. the act of force fitting a notion or concept into a real-life context or vise-versa, for teaching purposes, resulting in a somewhat absurd lesson or exercise that would never be considered outside of a teaching facility.”

These are problems meant to put a concept into a context for students, but instead provoke bewilderment that anyone would ever need or want to do that in real life. 

Official Coach Lerning Academies presents problem-solving assignments in the context of a compelling story line that makes sense and motivates the student to solve.

5.  Motivation (Internal):

Self-motivation is key to learning.  The expression – you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink, is well known, but not actually true.  Our school systems have been salting the oats to force students to participate for a very long time.  Official Coach Lerning Academies want to take our students for a run that will work up a thirst.  (OK, I may have stretched that analogy too far).

The point is this:  Story telling, song, dance, and games have been used to teach for thousands of years because they work.  Students are so caught up in the enjoyment of learning that the do not realize that they are being taught.  This is the heart of what makes Official Coach Lerning Academies radically different from other programs.  We have re-imagined education for the 21st century and found that current technology makes it possible to center on learning as oppose to force teaching.

6.  Self-Concept (In Charge of Your Own Learning):

This tenet is about people having the need to be responsible for their own education – make their own choices.  This includes involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.  Official Coach Lerning Academies provides students with opportunities to choose among options where they want to follow in the gamified story line, but this is actually superficial to their education.  In addition to completing problem-solving project-based assignments – there is Challenge-Based Learning. 

http://www.challengebasedlearning.org/pages/welcome

As described by the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow – Today (ACOT2) program, Challenge-Based Learning is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems through efforts in their homes, schools and communities.

Individual Official Coach Lerning Academies are not disengaged from the real world around us.  There are true-life problems in our communities and around the world that our students must be a part of the solution.  Our students are required to periodically submit a Challenge-Based Learning project.  And since Official Coach Lerning Academies are not bound by traditional school hours and days, our students have the flexibility to be fully engaged in Challenge-Based Learning.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a unique and radical 21st century change in education.  Please show support by following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook page.


Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education. Regionally accredited independent study schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery. It is still in the developmental stage.  Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies.  Coach Lerning is the name of a character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  To Learn more About Official Coach Lerning Academies - visit our blog and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Making the Case for 21st Century Learning in 2013

Lydia Dobyns, President of New Tech Network, recently stated  in a Huff Post Education article,  that phrases like 21st century classroom or 21st century skills are empty phraseology designed to sound like we are preparing for the future when we are already living in that future.  Interestingly, the rest of her article actually makes the case for using such phraseology.
Today’s education system does not reflect the innovative gains in technology and social media made in recent years.  Our school system is still based on the late 19th century Industrial Age model of schooling used to prepare students for factory work.  It is not preparing students for the reality of our 21st century economy. Heck, we are still using the agrarian calendar to determine a school year.  Honestly, her suggestion to use phrases like “deeper learning” does not convey the irony of wanting 21st century learning in the year 2013.
It is true that tech giants like Google do not need to tout that they are 21st century companies because they are too busy being 21st century companies.  Our schools can’t make that same statement.  We need to use terms like 21st century learning to differentiate  what is happening in schools from what should be happening in schools.
Ms. Dobyns may not like phrases like 21st century learning, but she is a strong advocate for it.  She insists that school districts must change from delivering education that inhibits innovation to ones that encourages it. Accordingly, it is time to move on and develop education systems that meet students where they live and are relevant.
Official Coach Lerning Academies agree.  Students should not walk into a classroom that represents a step back from the connected world that they live in. Our concept of 21st century learning is blending online gamified story lines that motivates and guide students through problem-solving and projected-based mastery of knowledge and skills at academies with flexible hours.
Our students seek knowledge in their 24×7 connected world all the time.  The help they need is in relating their natural curiosity to skills and knowledge needed in a 21st century economy.  You see, there isn’t anything wrong in schooling students to be prepared workers for the economy – it just has to be for the century that they live in.  That is why we use the phrase 21st century learning.
We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  To learn more about Official Coach Lerning Academies please visit their  Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Official Coach Lerning Academies



Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education. Making it a reality is my ultimate professional goal.

Our current education system is based on a late 19th century model of teaching meant for preparing workers for factory work in an industrialized nation.  It is not surprising that special interests have become entrenched in a system that is more than a hundred years old.  It wouldn’t be a problem except that this antiquated system is not preparing students for the 21st
century.



Some are proposing that market-based reforms that provide school choice for parents will transform schools to meet today’s societal and economic needs.  And I’m sure that they can – if schools were part of a free market.  Schools are not in a free market.  Public schools are in a monopolistic system ensnared in obsolete traditions, laws, red tape, and strings attached to grants and government funding.  Most private schools are also trapped in the late 19th century model of schooling and are too busy struggling to surviving to be innovative.
Coach Lerning Academies intends to break out of this mold.  Its funding model will not be based on grants and government funding.  Its funding model will not even be based on tuition.  Coach Lerning Academies will be funded by free market acceptance of its 21st century model of learning.  This will include initial capitalization through crowd-funding and multiple streams of income through membership and other goods and services.
The concept behind Coach Lerning Academies is 21st century simplistic.  Students follow gamified story lines that motivates and guide them through online learning experiences that culminate in demonstrating mastery in project-based assignments in one of the academies.  Students have flexible hours because they are not bound by traditional school hours.  In fact, they are not bound to any one brick and mortar school.  Membership in a Coach Lerning Academy is universal to all Coach Lerning Academies.
We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog . To learn more about Official Coach Lerning Academies follow them on Twitter and Facebook.