Thursday, December 30, 2010

LAUSD Leads Nation In Term Of Charter School Students

(L.A. Times- December 30, 2010 10:13 a.m.)

According to the L.A. Times, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to be #1 in regards to having more charter school students than any other school system in the country. This data was released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Detroit Public Schools has about 50,000 students in the charter school system, and L.A. Unified leads with about 68,500 students in charter schools as of last year. Overall, there is about 10%  of L.A. Unified students who attend charter schools.

Most charter schools in California are nonunion. In addition, charter schools are free publicly funded schools that are operated by nonprofits and some private companies. Due to the school-reform strategy of President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, many of these schools are free from many regulations that tend to govern traditional schools.

All in all, according to the Center for Education Reform, California has 941 charter schools, more than 17% of the national total.

My question is: Are more parents sending their children to charter schools? Are private schools decreasing in size as far as student enrollment? And what about public education? Log in at to comment.

For more information about this story, visit

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Why I Switched My Child from LAUSD to Private School

By Jenny Heitz

Before I even begin this tale, I’d like to state for the record that I went to LAUSD through 7th grade (after that I attended Crossroads). For the most part, until middle school, the public experience was positive. Perhaps I wasn’t challenged as much as I might have been at a private school, but it was the 1970s and the Los Angeles private school mania hadn’t gone bonkers just yet.

So, when it was time for my daughter Anna to switch from her Montessori pre-school to elementary school (she attended kindergarten at Montessori), sending her to Third St. Elementary seemed like a fine idea. It was, after all, our neighborhood school. I believed in the concept of public education, as well as the diversity a public school provides. But from moment one, there were problems.

Anna’s first grade teacher was a newbie, and she had very little love for my admittedly precocious daughter. “I thought I had a teenager in my class,” the teacher told me, not in a nice way. The year progressed rather poorly. Anna blew off homework (copious amounts for first grade). She didn’t return after a bathroom break and was found playing on the monkey bars. On the other hand, the teacher was barely in control of the class, assigning absurd animal reports to six year olds (black widow spider, anyone?), and seemed overall not up the task at hand. We stuck it out and hoped second grade would be better.

And it was. Anna’s second grade teacher was a total pro. He recognized her need for academic activity and had her do extra work, help the other kids, and generally kept her out of trouble. It was a good year. At the end of the year, he suggested she get tested for Gifted and Talented (GATE) status. We signed her up for the test.

Meanwhile, third grade begins. She is assigned a teacher with a wonderful reputation. Yet, Anna was bored. Really, really bored. She finished her homework in ten minutes. She never had anything to say about anything she’d learned. Her teacher complained Anna seemed “distracted,” yet her grades were terrific. The teacher never wanted to assign extra work, so this cycle continued. Something was up.

After not hearing from LAUSD regarding her test, we decided to get an independent opinion. We took Anna to a child psychologist, who administered the WISC IV, an I.Q. test. It took about an hour, and Anna enjoyed it. At the end, we found out that Anna’s scores indicated she was highly gifted. The psychologist recommended private school for her, especially Mirman, one of the few schools in the country teaching only highly gifted children. We took her advice, and luckily got Anna into Mirman off the waiting list for fourth grade.

We never got a real I.Q. test from LAUSD for Anna. And it wouldn’t have mattered if we had. The joke is, there is no real GATE program through LAUSD to cater to gifted students anyway. Yes, the program exists on paper, and it has a name and requirements for entrance (there’s even someone in charge of the GATE program at Third St., although we never could get her on the phone), but since there’s no enrichment classes available at Third St., it was all meaningless. It seems almost funny now, but at the time we were just scratching our heads in bewilderment.

The lack of enriched academic resources aside, there were other problems with LAUSD that seem glaringly apparent to me after the fact. The school, which has fabulous test scores, struggles annually to provide anything for the children beyond the bare minimum. The parents work tirelessly on the school’s behalf, but it’s a Sisyphean task as there’s always another budget cut on the horizon. All those Culture Days, all those fundraisers, don’t seem to keep the school from sinking deeper into budgetary mire. I still hear about goings on at Third St.; this year they lost their librarian and janitors and have a truncated school year.

I wonder sometimes: where does all the money go? How can it not get to the individual schools? How can teachers have to beg parents for basics like copy paper (I bet there’s no shortage of copy paper at LAUSD headquarters). Each year, more cuts ensue, more extras like art, music, and physical education are eliminated from curriculum's. Each year, either classroom sizes increase, or teachers are fired (always the new and enthusiastic ones), or the school year is shortened. Yet there’s still never enough money, just endless ways to make the classroom as ill equipped, dull, dirty, and dispirited as possible. How can a bureaucracy that is supposed to, in theory, serve children, be so callous toward them?

So, I gave up on LAUSD for a variety of reasons. And the irony is, Third St. is a good LAUSD school. It makes me wonder about all those other schools, the ones with really poor scores and not enough parents with the time and money to devote to their school (not that, as at Third St., all that parent involvement makes that big a difference in the end). Life might not always be fair, but the state of LAUSD is way more unfair than it needs to be.

My friends who have stayed in the public system are mostly sending their kids to charter schools or magnet schools, where the demands for volunteerism lead to palpable results. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s far better than the standard LAUSD alternative. But many of these parents look into the future with dread, as middle and high schools looms with few good options available. They are scrambling to gain “points” through the LAUSDprivate school entrance competition can be fierce), it’s easier if she makes the switch to private now.

Private school has been a blessing for Anna. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to send her there. She’s fulfilled and enthusiastic, and talks about what she’s learning constantly. The campus is idyllic. It’s a total sea change from the LAUSD experience. Switching her out of LAUSD was the absolute right decision. And I know that we were lucky to have the option.

Jenny Heitz writes the gift giving blog Find A Toad ( She is the mom of a 4th grade daughter who attends The Mirman School. She lives in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Public Vs. Private, Charter Vs. Magnet Schools

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New School Opening! Brawerman Elementary School East

New School Opening! Brawerman Elementary School East

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Musings Of A Private Elementary School Mom In LA (And Her Husband)

By Christina Simon-Co-Author of Beyond the Brochure 

Shortly after we enrolled our daughter in a private elementary school in Los Angeles, my husband, Barry, told me he thought he was a scarce commodity at the school: a dad who worked at a “real job”. Terms like "hand me down money" and "born on third base, but thought they hit a triple", have been tossed about in our conversations. You get the picture. At the time, Barry was CEO of a company with thirty locations around the globe. He wasn’t exactly working 9-5. It was more like 24/7.
Barry thinks that parents who don’t have to work at “real jobs”, and instead create “vanity projects” appear to dominate LA private elementary schools. Wineries, artistic endeavors, clothing stores that are shuttered quickly and oversized, money-losing, signature projects are rampant.
I remind him that a lot of families work hard to pay school tuition. He thinks it’s a small percentage of the families, unless you include the grandparents who pay tuition for their grandchildren. Who really knows? But, it can make for some hilarious social situations when we find ourselves nodding supportively as a parent talks about their "business" or a "huge deal" they are working on. We feign interest, knowing it’s not making or breaking the family finances.
Now that we have kids, my family recently visited NYC for a pre-reception to celebrate Barry’s 25th Harvard College Reunion next year. Barry has suddenly decided, along with his college friends (who also have kids) that Harvard is a really good cause to give money to.
During our time in New York, we got together with Barry’s college friend and his wife who have boys at Collegiate. Of course, the topic turned to schools. This family would dazzle any private school admissions director. Both parents went to Harvard. The dad is a self-made, very high net worth business owner. They are nice and low-key. The mom, a corporate executive in Manhattan, told me she bought every book about applying to schools in NYC. Like me, she was extremely anxious during the process. Ultimately, it worked out and they love their school. But, there’s never time to stop worrying. Now the focus for all of us is…yes, you guessed it: Harvard College.
My kids attend The Willows Community School in Culver City. It is understated compared to some of the other LA private schools I'm familiar with. We don’t see the outrageousness found at other schools. I’m talking about play dates based solely on social status, not on the child's friendships. Or enrolling a child in a school for the parent's networking opportunities. That stuff is pretty non-existent at The Willows, thankfully.
The high quality of the education is what makes private school worth it. I believe private elementary school families have a common thread that keeps us at our respective schools, even if that thread isn't so "common" or is sometimes badly frayed. When all is said and done, it’s about the education of our kids.
Christina Simon is the co-author of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. She is the parent of a 4th grade daughter and a 2nd grade son at The Willows Community School in Culver City, CA. Christina writes about the private elementary school admissions process and life as a private school mom on her blog.

Beverly Hills High Will Hold Their Annual Dance Performance Jan. 12-15

By Dupè Aleru

Beverly Hills High School’s Advanced Dance Theatre Group of 2011, is led by Frances Goritsas, new director of The Company.

The Company will hold their annual dance performances starting Jan. 12-15 in the K. L Peters Auditorium at Beverly Hills High School. Showings will be held at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office by the auditorium or presale tickets will be sold by dance students on the campus prior to Jan. 12. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.

Don’t miss out on this spectacular event featuring hip-hop, modern and jazz!
For more information, email

Monday, December 27, 2010

Former Beverly Hills School District Facilities Director Taken Into Custody

 (By Brenton Garen, Beverly Hills Courier)

ABCmouse Releases Its New iPhone And iPad Mobile Apps, an Early Learning Academy which pioneers an educational website for children ages two through six, announced the release of a new collection of interactive apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

These highly innovative mobile apps offer engaging, hands-on features to enhance and contextualize early learning.

The apps introduce three children's books series from the online curriculum: the Aesop"s Fables Series, the Beginning Reader Series, and the Search And Explore Series.

The first titles to be released in these series are six illustrated interactive children's books: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Tortoise And The Hare, Big Bug And Little Bug, The Hen In The Pen, Dan And Jan, and Search And Explore: The Grand Canyon.

The fourth mobile app series to be released in Visit The Zoo Interactive Environment where animals come to life with photo-realistic animations in natural environments.

"Mobile devices are rapidly becoming an important platform with which to deliver the Early Learning Academy curriculum into the hands of young children who are using these devices in ever-increasing numbers,"said Doug Dohring, CEO of's parent company, Age of Learning, Inc.
" Early Learning Academy's educational apps are the first of many to support our goal of helping young children build a strong foundation for future academic success."

For more information, visit

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dr. Seuss Widow Donates Millions to UC San Diego

(Tony Perry in San Diego)

We all remember the legendary author Dr. Seuss author, Theodor Geisel. His catchy books such as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham brings us back to our childhood memories, as we learned how to read while building a wild imagination through his fun and artistic illustrations.

Audrey Geisel, widow of Dr. Seuss author, donated $2million dollars to UC San Diego for its new renovation project, the University House-the private residence of the UC San Diego Chancellor.

Geisel and her late husband has built a long-lasting relationship with the campus by donating many memorabilia  to the campus. In honor of their generous donations over the years, in 1995 the library was named after Theodor Geisel.

As the university is celebrating their 50th anniversary, the donation comes as a big surprise! Officials hope the renovations begin next year and be completed in the summer of 2012.

One Child Can Make A Difference

By Dupè Aleru

Tis’ the season to be giving–seventh grade student Jack Ginsberg from Paul Revere Middle School in Brentwood has embraced the true spirit of the season by raising money for young children in need.

Launching a coin-jar-fundraising campaign, Ginsberg collected coins, classroom by classroom and hand delivered a check along with friends, for $3,500 to Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services.

Many kids his age are making their holiday lists of gifts they’d like to receive, but not seventh-grader Ginsberg, who has touched the lives of many children this holiday season by giving back.

What was the inspiration? A summer visit at Vista Del Mar accompanied by his mother and sister–he initially visited Vista to explore volunteer opportunities. 

While touring Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services,

Ginsberg’s attention was drawn to a group of students his age who were laughing and smiling as they kicked a ball around an athletic field. 

Learning that the children are not only struggling to overcome mental, emotional, and developmental challenges, but many have endured unimaginable trauma, led him to try to make a positive difference in the lives of Vista Del Mar children.

As Vista Del Mar’s President/CEO Elias Lefferman, Ph.D., noted: “For the youngsters that we serve, the holidays can be an especially difficult time.” The money that Jack has raised not only will buy much-needed-athletic equipment but, more importantly, it communicates to these kids that someone–someone their own age–truly cares about them.”

L.A. Edvancement-L.A.'s #1 Educational Blog Site


My name is Dupe` Aleru. Welcome to Ed Enterprise, the sister blog site to L.A. Edvancement-The #1 Educational Blog Site in Los Angeles. L.A. Edvancement and Ed Enterprise are both educational blog sites who post current educational news throughout the Los Angeles area. This newly founded blog allows students, parents, administrators and the community to view, discuss and learn about current news such as sporting events, academics, after school programs, enrichment, fundraisers, awards and more within all educational institutions.

I hope you enjoy!