Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Districts ready to Race …but will they really sign?

Blog by John Fensterwald/Educated Guess

California will have some impressive numbers to show the feds, if most of the districts that have expressed interest in the federal Race to the Top competition follow through this week and sign the dotted line to participate in the state’s as yet unfinished application. Nine of the state’s 10 largest school districts – every one but San Diego Unified — and 23 of the top 30 districts sent in letters of intent to join the program. In total, 798 of the approximately 1,800 school districts, county offices of education and charter schools showed interest. They educate 3.8 million of the state’s 6.25 million public school students – 61 percent.Not bad numbers, especially considering that the state provided the wording of the memorandum of understanding to commit to the program only a few weeks ago. (more...)

Class size reduction: California drops the ball

Opinion by Delaine Eastin/San Francisco Chronicle

I am heartsick that some California school districts are backing away from class size reduction, a reform that is being whittled away in this terrible budget climate. I believe today as I did when I was elected in 1994, that the budget of a state is like the budget of a family: it is a statement of values. I believe that class size reduction is even more important today than it was in the mid-1990's when we implemented it. The decision to undermine class size reduction, to lower the number of days in the school year, to lay off teachers, counselors, nurses, crossing guards, to close schools, to reduce preschool, to reduce honors classes and even to raise fees at our colleges and universities is a shame and a disgrace. It is being done in a state that was suckered into recklessly passing a high-speed rail so the rich could ride in style while our poor children are being starved educationally. I will come back to this, but first let me say a few words about how we got here. (more...)

Rules of (child) engagement

By Jennifer Torres/San Joaquin Record

More American children are engaged in school - they are interested in their assignments, they work hard, they enjoy attending - and more are involved in the kinds of extracurricular activities that help keep them engaged than were about a decade ago, according to a recently published report from the Census Bureau. But the census also found that student engagement is related to parent education, family income and other factors with which San Joaquin County has tended to struggle. In "A Child's Day," Census Bureau analysts surveyed parents - mothers, for the most part - on their children's attitudes toward and performance at school, as well as on details about their home lives: Are there rules established for watching television? Do the children eat dinner with their parents most nights? Do parents praise their children regularly? Do the children take part in sports and other out-of-school activities? (more...)

Race to the Top coming down to the wire

By Mina Kim/California Report (audio file)

As the state legislature reconvenes this week, one of the most pressing items on the agenda is passing the so-called Race to the Top bill. That's California's bid for a share of billions of dollars the federal government is offering to push change in public education. The deadline is in two weeks. (more...)

California set to pass education overhaul plan

By Marisa Lagos/San Francisco Chronicle

The California Legislature is poised to pass an education plan today that makes far-reaching changes to how public schools are governed, giving parents the power to transfer their kids out of failing schools and to force districts to overhaul bad schools. The dramatic changes to California's education policies have been debated for months. They are intended to make the state competitive for up to $700 million in federal dollars under President Obama's $4.3 billion Race to the Top program, which promises funding to states that embrace education policies outlined by the president by a Jan. 19 application deadline. Millions more dollars may also be at stake for the financially struggling state, as the Obama administration is expected to tie future education funding to some of his Race to the Top provisions. (more...)

Where's the 2009 love?

Blog by Patrick Riccards/Eduflak

Yes, I recognize that we have started a new year. But Eduflack is also mindful of the words of Winston Churchill that "those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." [smf: uh, oh! – Churchill didn’t say that; It was philosopher-poet, Georges Santayana, who said "those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." --sometimes called Santayana's Law of Repetitive Consequences.] So I can't start the new year without looking over those lovely Year in Review editions put out by Time and Newsweek last week. Those of us who have been hip deep in the education improvement movement often operate with blinders on, believing that the topics and issues that we are focused on are what the entire world are most concerned with. About a month ago, Brookings came out with a study calculating that only 1.4 percent of the national news coverage in 2009 was education-related. (Personally, as painful as the statistic was, I'd hate to see that number if we excluded coverage of Teach for America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). (more...)

Schools are facing new round of cuts

By Cheri Carlson/Ventura County Star

Months after losing hundreds of teachers, raising class sizes and cutting school days, public school officials likely will again be faced with budget deficits heading into 2010-11. Even without further state funding cuts, school districts will have to find ways to fill holes left by short-term fixes to deal with this year’s steep state cuts, including one-time federal stimulus cash handed out in 2009. “The quality of education in California is going to be affected because of the financial problems at the state level,” said county Associate Superintendent Ken Prosser.This month, California school districts had to hand in their first revised budgets of the fiscal year, a multi-year financial plan. Local districts turn in reports to the Ventura County Office of Education, which provides an independent review before certifying results for the state. (more...)

District needs a leader / Dropping superintendent post would be calamitous

Editorial/Sign On San Diego

Continuing its radical consolidation of power, the San Diego Unified school board majority has scheduled a special meeting today at which members are expected to take the first step toward eliminating the position of superintendent. This would be a calamitous mistake, one that would make city schools a national laughingstock. Parents of students in San Diego Unified aren’t the only ones who should be up in arms. Everyone who cares about San Diego’s future should be alarmed. Board members Shelia Jackson, Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans will pretend the decision to adopt an “alternative school district leadership model” is about efficiency or reform or even saving money, but no one should have any illusion about what’s going on. This is a power grab, plain and simple. (more...)

Students in need get bus fare help

By Leonel Sanchez/San Diego Union-Tribune

When Consuelo Manriquez arrived as a new principal at San Diego High School this fall, she noticed a problem with attendance and tardiness and quickly learned a sad truth. Many students who live in the low-income neighborhoods that the downtown school draws live far from the campus and can’t afford public transportation. “There’s no money,” she said. “Parents are unemployed, got laid off and the rent is so high.” The San Diego Unified School District provides transportation to the school only for special education students and students attending magnet programs. And many students who aren’t within walking distance can’t afford the $36 monthly bus and trolley passes from the Metropolitan Transit System. Manriquez believes her school’s low-academic standing would improve with better attendance and appealed to friends to help raise money for passes for students who applied for transportation scholarships. (more...)

Charter school focusing on Hmong children proposed in Sacramento

By Diana Lambert/Sacramento Bee

A group of Sacramento parents, educators and business professionals wants to open a charter school that will focus on teaching Hmong children, who have largely fallen through the cracks at regular public schools. Hmong students in the Sacramento City Unified School District had the lowest scores – collectively – of all the district's ethnic groups on the English language arts section of standardized tests last year and the year before. Studies show Hmong struggle in school districts throughout the nation. The result: A large number of Hmong youths are relegated to a life of gangs, crime or low-paying jobs, said Dennis Mah, president of the Urban Charter School Collective, formed to start the school. This can be a perplexing problem in a region that is home to 30,000 Hmong. (more...)

Error could cost CVUSD millions

By Neil Nisperos/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

The Chino Valley school district is hoping for the best but preparing for a possible state decision to penalize the district $8 million for missing instructional minutes last year at two elementary schools. An accounting error led to the amount of instructional time at Rolling Ridge and Dickson elementary schools last year falling short of state requirements. The estimated penalty by the state Department of Education is a potential loss of about $1 million in state funding for each of the next eight years, said Geri Partida, Chino Valley Unified School District assistant superintendent of business services. District officials plan to appeal to the state to minimize the penalties, though there is also the potential for affected students to be required to attend additional extended school days, officials said. (more...)

The California Education News Roundup is a daily publication that highlights news and commentary about California educational policy, educational reform, and related items of interest to California's educational justice community. Included are brief summaries and links to full articles from mainstream media, ethnic media, and select blogs. The News Roundup also features local education stories related to statewide education issues or to local advocacy campaigns. Finally, the Roundup includes selected national stories that may affect California educational policy and reform.

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