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Westside Watch

Mann School Lacks Glitz, But Its Test Scores Glitter

March 20, 1994

Horace Mann School doesn't fit the many stereotypes of Beverly Hills promulgated by television shows, movies and the news media.

Located on busy Robertson Boulevard in the city's southeastern quarter, it draws its students from homes more modest than the mansions traditionally associated with Beverly Hills. Horace Mann's students include immigrants from Israel, Japan and Korea, along with pupils whose native language is Spanish.

But there was nothing modest about the school's math scores on a statewide test. Its fourth-graders had Los Angeles County's highest scores on the mathematics portion of the California Learning Assessment System test, with 50% scoring at the top three levels.

The next closest school was Vista Grande in Palos Verdes at 43%.

"(Our) success involves the three fourth-grade teachers (Lynn Koff, Ellen Morehead and Rachael Zanka) who came up with a lot of new types of material that allowed the children to write the kind of answers that were creative and extend beyond what normally might be expected," Principal Arthur E. Fields said. "They developed their own open-ended questions, which children had to write the answers to, rather than just using math as a means of computation."

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DIAMOND'S IN THE ROUGH: Good law has turned into bad luck for 41st Assembly District candidate Roger Jon Diamond.

And he has no one but himself to blame. . . . He's responsible for the law.

In 1972, when Diamond ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly, he challenged the rule that incumbents always got first position on the ballot.

Alas, the California Supreme Court didn't hear the case until after Diamond had lost to the Republican candidate, former Assemblyman Paul Priolo, whose name appeared first on the ballot.

Even when he got to court, Diamond was stymied because the Legislature's attorney would not concede that being listed first on the ballot was an advantage.

Diamond didn't give up, however. He raised the issue again the following year in a local Santa Monica election. A trial court judge agreed with Diamond that the person listed first on the ballot had a leg up. Alphabetical order wasn't fair either, the judge ruled. A lottery was then instituted to determine the ballot order.

When Diamond flew up to Sacramento last week to attend the lottery for ballot positions, he found that the system he had fought for, fought back.

Diamond will be listed last on the Democratic primary ballot (after lottery winner Sheila James Kuehl and four others).

"It's called irony," Diamond said. "You couldn't write a script better than that."

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POKER FACED: Tom Hayden went on "Politically Incorrect," Comedy Central cable network's talk show last week. He bombed as a comic. On purpose.

The Santa Monica Democratic gubernatorial hopeful later explained that he deliberately decided to take a humorless approach on the show, which has been dubbed "The McLaughlin Group on acid."

"I didn't go in warmed up to be funny," Hayden said. "I didn't realize you're supposed to have a lot of one-liners about the world's tragedies and horrors."

While we had braced for guffaws, all we got was Hayden on Whitewater ("These law firms seem to have replaced the political parties and maybe even the networks as where things happen in America.") Not exactly material for Leno. And Hayden on American relations with China ("I think we should make human rights the cornerstone of American policy.") Nothing to make Arsenio jealous. And Hayden detailed his support of a plan to give scholarships to college students in exchange for three years service as police officers upon graduation. What would Letterman do with that?

Maybe Hayden's saving those thigh-slappers for the campaign trail.

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