Sunday, March 16, 2008

More News than Fits 3/16

Dozens of demonstrators march in Santa Ana in the kickoff of a series of events statewide in opposition to the governor's plan.
By David Haldane/Los Angeles Times

About 70 demonstrators -- mostly parents, students and teachers -- marched through the streets of Santa Ana on Thursday, protesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts for California schools. The gathering was one of about a dozen planned statewide in what organizers said was the kickoff of a series of events scheduled over the next several months in opposition to the $4.8 billion in education cuts proposed to offset the state's deficit. This is ridiculous," Randy Maynor, a member of the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the national grass-roots community-based group organizing the protests, told the crowd gathered at Lowell Elementary School.

Teachers jobs in peril
Recortes previstos por California dejan sin demasiadas opciones a los distritos escolares; empiezan a llegar cartas de notificación a docentes
California budget cuts leave many districts without options, teachers start receiving pink slips
By Rubén Moreno and Iván Mejía/La Opinion

La imagen se repite por todo el estado: cartas que llegan con un mensaje no muy alentador para el destinatario. "Esa carta dice que el año que viene no van a necesitar más mis servicios", dijo angustiado Claudio Heredia, uno de los 106 maestros que han recibido la notificación del Distrito Escolar Unificado de El Rancho advirtiéndoles de que el próximo curso no tienen garantizado su puesto de trabajo.
The image repeats itself all over the state - letters that have a not very encouraging message for the recipient. "This letter that next year, they are no longer going to need my services", says anguished Claudio Heredia, one of the nearly 106 teachers who have received notification from the El Rancho Unified School District warning them that next year their job may not be guaranteed.

The state Board of Education has approved interventions in 97 poorly performing school districts recommended by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last month. The governor says the board's action Thursday is needed to free up $45 million in federal funds to help the districts comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. The districts have failed to meet their goals for five years and are facing sanctions for the first time. They educate about one-third of California's students.

Ed Week

When Democrats took control of Congress last year, many political observers predicted that lawmakers wouldn’t reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act before President Bush left office. But Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, disagreed. When he took over as the committee’s chairman, he often said that the reauthorization was “doable.” Now, though, he’s acknowledging that the pessimistic prognosticators may have been right. Rep. Miller said last week it would be difficult for him and other supporters of the NCLB law to overcome the combination of its unpopularity with Democrats and the size of the president’s fiscal 2009 budget proposal, which Rep. Miller and other Democrats consider inadequate.

By Jill Tucker/San Francisco Chronicle

More than 10,100 teachers will see pink slips in their mailboxes over the next few days as districts up and down California meet a Saturday deadline to warn staff of anticipated layoffs due to the state's budget crisis. Kristen Vogel is expecting two pink slips at her house. The third-year San Francisco elementary school teacher knows she'll get one. A substitute principal at her school broke the news Monday. A union letter confirmed it Wednesday. The district's official certified letter is likely to arrive over the weekend.

By Tamara Keith/NPR

School districts across California are reeling because of millions of dollars of proposed education cuts in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget. March 15 is the deadline to give teachers layoff notices, and thousands of them will go out across the state. A particularly hard-hit school district offers a look at the reality.

By Tamar Lewin/New York Times

American students’ math achievement is “at a mediocre level” compared with that of their peers worldwide, according to a new report by a federal panel, which recommended that schools focus on key skills that prepare students to learn algebra. “The sharp falloff in mathematics achievement in the U.S. begins as students reach late middle school, where, for more and more students, algebra course work begins,” said the report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, appointed two years ago by President Bush. “Students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college compared to students with less mathematical preparation.”

Palo Alto escapes budget crunch better off than other districts –- lay-offs unlikely
By Arden Pennell/Palo Alto Online

Classes will be larger next year but Palo Alto schools should largely escape proposed state budget cuts without the "horrific" fallout in other districts, school officials said at Tuesday's school board meeting. "This is a much gentler scene than you'll find in many, many districts on a night like this," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said. The state cuts -- proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in January -- would cost the district about $900,000, according to Chief Business Official Cathy Mak. That brings the district's budget deficit up to $2.7 million from last fall's $1.9 million estimate, she said.

Inadequate facilities are the focus of nearly $10 million.
Editorial/Fresno Bee

The Fresno Unified School District board has wisely invested in Fresno's children by voting to upgrade aging athletic facilities. The trustees decided to spend $9.7 million on a dozen athletic projects at local high schools. While the district is studying a long-term plan for improving its buildings and other facilities, the projects approved Wednesday are what we've called "no-brainers." They will replace facilities that are so inadequate on their face, the district does not need a study to determine whether to proceed. They include swimming pools at Bullard and Fresno high schools that are in such bad condition, they've become health hazards.

San Jose Mercury News

The Mercury News surveyed school districts in Santa Clara County to determine which ones are issuing layoff notices to teachers and other staff because of proposed cuts to the state education budget. The number of layoffs is the latest estimate provided by the district. Districts that did not respond are not listed. Estimates that were not provided are marked with an X.

By Timm Herdt/Los Angeles Times

Overruling the decision of a Ventura County committee, the State Board of Education decided Thursday that all residents of the Oxnard Union High School District — including those who live in Oxnard — will get to vote on a proposal that would sever Camarillo High School from the district.The ruling, on a 7-2 vote, means that a vote to determine whether to unify the Pleasant Valley and Somis Union elementary school districts into a single K-12 district with Camarillo High as its high school could be held as early as November.

District would be the first in the U.S. since the '60s to lose its accreditation. Students are frustrated and residents of the predominantly black county are embarrassed.
By Jenny Jarvie/Los Angeles Times

Kyanda Daniels, a junior, ran for miles with the Jonesboro High School track team the other day. When she was done, she stood above the stadium, gasping for air, and wondering what on Earth she was striving for. "We're in school for nothing, basically," said Daniels, 17. "When I get out my homework, I think to myself, 'Man, why am I doing this?' What college is going to accept us? Who would give us a scholarship?"Anxiety has engulfed students across Clayton County, a predominantly black area south of Atlanta, ever since they learned their school district could become the first in the nation since the 1960s to lose its accreditation.

By Robin Finn/New York Times

ZEKE M. VANDERHOEK, the upstart behind the extravagant, much-debated idea that paying teachers at his fledgling charter school $125,000 a year will translate into a top-notch education for students, is tethered by circumstance to a chair in his Chelsea office. It should be noted that Mr. Vanderhoek, 31 and showing the signs of an addiction to almond croissants, had A public education advocate, innovator and, to some minds, revolutionary, he did not attend a single day of public school — he spent the years from kindergarten through 12th grade at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., and segued to Yale. He has a set-in-stone philosophy: teachers should not be fiscal martyrs.

California coalition backs tax hikes over budget cuts By Judy Lin/Sacramento Bee (Monday)

Rather than point the state budget ax at each other, a broad spectrum of interest groups has joined forces in a battle to press Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to raise taxes. Groups representing nearly every state general fund service – education, labor, public safety, environment, health care and social services – have formed an alliance to oppose the governor's proposal for 10 percent across-the-board cuts. Members say the goal of the newly formed umbrella coalition, which has yet to be named, is to raise public awareness about the effect of cuts and press elected officials into supporting revenue increases.

Editorial/San Jose Mercury News (Monday)

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata was emphatic at a high school in Sacramento and again at a school in Marin County last week. Soon he'll say it at a school in San Jose: Democratic senators will not allow education spending to be cut 10 percent. They will fight for higher taxes. That's a welcome position. Now, he has to sell it to parents he hopes will organize and support the plan, to a governor who's been tripping over his tongue when asked about taxes, and to the business community that must talk sense to at least the handful of Republicans who'll be needed to pass a budget.

Editorial/Contra Costa Times (Monday)

THERE IS NO ESCAPING that California is going to have to significantly cut back on spending to balance a 2008-09 budget that is still $8 billion short. That is true even if there are tax increases. Much of the budget reductions will have to be made in education because it accounts for a larger share of state spending than anything else. That is why so many school districts in the East Bay and across the state are scrambling to determine how to operate with less money. However, the bad news may not be as bad as it has been portrayed by some education officials and legislators who have no qualms about raising taxes.

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