Thursday, August 30, 2012


By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report |

Wednesday, August 29, 2012  ::  The State Assembly, in a unanimous vote on Tuesday, approved an emergency bailout loan for the Inglewood Unified School District, the ninth California district since 1991 to lose local control to the state.

Sen. Roderick Wright’s SB 533 authorizes a loan of up to $55 million and requires Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in consultation with the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, to appoint an administrator to run the district.

The bill was just one of many taken up during the hectic final week of Legislative session, including one allowing for modification of eighth grade math curriculum adopted in 2010 as part of the new common core standards.

Hurt by several years of budget cuts and a dramatic decline in enrollment, Inglewood Unified’s board of trustees voted in July to begin the formal process for a state takeover after being unable to close a $10 million budget deficit as well as a negative cash balance of nearly to $30 million.

Under state law, when a school district requires a state bailout, the local board loses its authority and the administration is replaced by a state-appointed administrator.

Burdened with billions in funding cuts and payment deferrals over the past four years, 188 local educational agencies were placed on a state list this spring designating them at risk for not meeting their financial obligations either this year or next.

Inglewood was one of 12 districts placed on the state’s negative certification list, which contains those districts likely to be unable to meet their obligations this year and next. But the southern California district is the only one so far to seek the state’s help.

The other 176 districts are on the qualified list, meaning they may not be able to meet their obligations this year or the next two years.

Five of the nine districts receiving a state bailout since 1991 have since repaid their debt and reclaimed administrative power. Three remain under state control: Vallejo: South Monterey (formerly King City); and Oakland.

Meanwhile, lawmakers also approved SB 1200, which the author, Sen. Loni Hancock, said seeks to clear up confusion in the field – with math teachers, administrators and the public – and promote academic rigor with regard to California academic content standards in mathematics.

In August 2010, the State Board of Education adopted new common core standards in English/language arts and mathematics. But California’s adoption included two sets of eighth grade math standards: the common core eighth grade standards and another set that combined elements of those and high school math standards with the state’s own algebra standards. Because the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is based on the premise that all students in grades one through eight are taught and assessed on the same set of standards, several implementation issues arose by California adopting a different set of grade eight math standards from other participating states.

For one, instructional materials for use in California would need to be different from those used by other states, potentially increasing costs of those materials for school districts.

In addition, assessment consortia are developing assessments aligned to the common core standards and not the variation adopted in California. This could result in issues with algebra standards and curriculum not being aligned with the state’s new assessment and accountability system.

This lack of alignment could result in future federal findings on federal grants, including Title I. If California adopted only the common core grade eight math standards as the single set of standards, many of these concerns would be alleviated.

Also, at the time the common core standards were adopted, the state board did not include what are known as “anchor standards,” which define the literacy expectations for students entering college and careers.

These anchor standards, Hancock said in written material in support of her bill, are essential to understanding the structure and cohesive nature of the common core state standards.

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