Image of the Issue Brief coverCalifornia has its plate full implementing a range of landmark reforms, including the Local Control Funding Formula, the Common Core State Standards and a new accountability system which will go beyond just test scores and include “multiple measures.” In many respects, California is leading the nation with these reforms.

But is California done? Are other reforms needed to ensure that students succeed? In the following commentaries, a range of leaders of education nonprofit organizations, including EdSource executive director Louis Freedberg, share their thoughts about what additional reforms are needed.

Just click on each of the boxes below to read the commentary — and let us know your reactions as well.

We have also collected the commentaries in one place in this easily downloadable – and printable – document. Click here to view.

The opinions expressed in these commentaries represent those of the authors. EdSource welcomes commentaries representing diverse points of view. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our guidelines and contact us.

 


Joe Landon

Executive Director, California Alliance for Arts Education

Jeff Camp

Founder, Ed100.org

Louis Freedberg

Executive Director, EdSource

Jennifer Peck

Executive Director, Partnership for Children and Youth

David Plank

Executive Director, Policy Analysis for California Education

Arun Ramanathan

CEO, Pivot Learning Partners

Ryan Smith

Executive Director, The Education Trust-West

Colleen A.R. You

President, California State PTA

Joe Landon

Executive Director, California Alliance for Arts Education

Revive arts education in California schools

California's school system expects miracles from communities.

A crucial premise of California's new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is that communities are prepared to hold their schools accountable for results. How can parent leaders understand education issues deeply enough to participate powerfully in the new accountability model, the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) that districts must file?

California's system implicitly presumes that brilliant, informed local community leadership is inevitable and free. That parent and community leaders simply emerge from the dull dregs of back-to-school-night coffee. That informed candidates for school board are waiting, like Batman, to swoop in when the community needs them.

Obviously, this presumption is optimistic. Education systems are fraught with jargon, acronyms, laws, precedents, myths, confusing data and competing priorities. It takes time and focus to learn to contribute effectively to your own school's Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA), much less the district's LCAP. (Have you read yours?)

Too few communities invest in a parent leadership pipeline. In this new era of local control, what should parent and community leaders know about their schools and the school system? Too many parents who step up to leadership roles have no idea what is expected of them. Indeed, less than half of California's schools even have a PTA unit. They are making it up as they go.

In the context of a "local control" system, this is jarring. Investing in informed parent leadership isn't presently on the agenda – but it should be. Local accountability is meaningless without it.

The fastest way for school community members to understand California's education system is to sign up for Ed100.org, a free self-paced online course in English and Spanish. (Disclosure: I wrote most of the lessons in Ed100. Yes, I really care about this.)

Joe Landon is executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

Jeff Camp

Founder, Ed100.org

Promoting a parent leadership pipeline

California's school system expects miracles from communities.|A crucial premise of California's new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is that communities are prepared to hold their schools accountable for results. How can parent leaders understand education issues deeply enough to participate powerfully in the new accountability model, the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) that districts must file?|California's system implicitly presumes that brilliant, informed local community leadership is inevitable and free. That parent and community leaders simply emerge from the dull dregs of back-to-school-night coffee. That informed candidates for school board are waiting, like Batman, to swoop in when the community needs them.

Obviously, this presumption is optimistic. Education systems are fraught with jargon, acronyms, laws, precedents, myths, confusing data and competing priorities. It takes time and focus to learn to contribute effectively to your own school's Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA), much less the district's LCAP. (Have you read yours?)

Too few communities invest in a parent leadership pipeline. In this new era of local control, what should parent and community leaders know about their schools and the school system? Too many parents who step up to leadership roles have no idea what is expected of them. Indeed, less than half of California's schools even have a PTA unit. They are making it up as they go.

In the context of a "local control" system, this is jarring. Investing in informed parent leadership isn't presently on the agenda – but it should be. Local accountability is meaningless without it.

The fastest way for school community members to understand California's education system is to sign up for Ed100.org, a free self-paced online course in English and Spanish. (Disclosure: I wrote most of the lessons in Ed100. Yes, I really care about this.)

Jeff Camp is the primary author of Ed100.org and the education co-chair of Full Circle Fund, a volunteer-powered nonprofit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Louis Freedberg

Executive Director, EdSource

A recruitment campaign for teachers

What is largely missing from the education reform agenda in California are strategies to recruit new teachers.

The absence is glaring, as the dearth of Californians considering entering the teaching profession is reaching crisis proportions.

Enrollments in teacher preparation programs in California have declined at a precipitous rate. In 2012-13, the latest year figures are available, 19,933 students were enrolled in teacher preparation programs – a 24 percent reduction from the previous year. In fact, enrollments have been declining for well over a decade – dropping by 74 percent from 2001-02, when 77,705 students were enrolled.

Making sure that California attracts teachers is in the interest of every community in the state. It is also essential if the slew of reforms currently being implemented in California schools are to succeed.

This is not something that can be left to chance or for the marketplace to take care of. It will require more than just telling would-be teachers how rewarding teaching is, what a great contribution they can make to the lives of young Californians and that they are key to building the state's future.

California is still struggling to overcome the impacts of the Great Recession. College costs have risen, and public education is no longer the bargain it once was. The reality is that beginning teacher salaries are appallingly low, especially in a state with relatively high living costs. It is essential that as many barriers as possible be removed for young people and career-changers contemplating becoming teachers.

Not so long ago, California offered students a range of financial aid – such as the Governor’s Fellowships, the Assumption Program of Loans for Education and Cal T grants – to help them become teachers. But those programs have fallen victim to budget cuts over the past decade.

One notable effort to take on this issue is Senate Bill 62 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills. The bill would restore the loan assumption programs and the Governor's Fellowships and link them to requirements that recipients work in low-income schools and high-priority teaching fields.

It will be up to leaders in business, education, philanthropy and government to mount a new recruitment campaign to attract California's brightest to teaching. Such a campaign would need to offer real incentives, such as helping to underwrite the cost of becoming a teacher in the first place, especially for those willing to work in high-needs fields and schools.

Louis Freedberg is executive director of EdSource.

Jennifer Peck

Executive Director, Partnership for Children and Youth

Promoting social emotional skills through expanded learning

This is a time of great opportunity for educators in California.

Teachers and administrators can now turn their focus away from No. 2 pencils and having their students fill in bubbles on multiple-choice tests.

With the introduction of new Common Core State Standards, teachers and administrators can concentrate on helping students develop the ability to collaborate, create, communicate and think critically. There is growing recognition that strengthening students’ social and emotional skills is essential to developing those abilities, and thus critical to success in school, the workplace, and in life generally.

Further good news is that schools don’t have to do this work on their own. In California, a strong network of expanded learning programs – operating after school and in the summer – are already experienced at helping young people build social-emotional skills. Their practices are specifically designed to help children:

  • learn about themselves,
  • relate to other people, and
  • develop confidence about learning.


This work by California’s expanded learning community is guided by new Quality Standards for Expanded Learning. The state is using these standards to inform its decisions about program funding, and schools, program providers and parents can use them to identify high quality programs and practices.

A robust after-school and summer strategy helps ensure that all children are developing the social-emotional skills they need to function well in the classroom. It also adds at least 740 hours to the 1,080 hours of school year learning. That extra learning time is not a luxury. The research on summer learning loss, for example, documents that the failure to use this time well has significant negative impacts on children, particularly those whose families cannot afford to pay for camps, trips, and other enriching activities.

California has more than 4,500 publicly funded expanded learning programs, most of which are located in schools in our state’s lowest-income communities. These programs add great value to the work of schools, but too often work in isolation. As a recent Partnership for Children and Youth report documents, when schools think outside the classroom and develop partnerships that expand the day and the year and offer opportunities to learn in different ways, kids benefit.

Let’s use this additional learning time to make sure all children have the social-emotional skills they need to thrive in school, work and life.

Jennifer Peck is executive director of Partnership for Children and Youth in Oakland.

David Plank

Executive Director, Policy Analysis for California Education

Supporting teachers from outside the classroom

Most of the money that California spends on education goes to pay people: teachers, aides, principals, counselors, nurses, librarians, custodians, bus drivers, and more. California ranks near the bottom in per pupil spending among states, and as a result relatively few adults work in the state’s schools. In 2012, California ranked dead last among the 50 states in the number of teachers per pupil and next-to-last (ahead of Nevada) in the ratio of all staff to pupils.

Teachers do the essential work of educating students, but they can’t do it by themselves. Hiring more teachers to reduce class size is both expensive and generally ineffective in raising student achievement. To bring about real improvement in the performance of schools and students, California needs more leaders, managers and support providers at every level of the education system.

In California, the average principal or assistant principal is responsible for more than 400 students. In Texas – hardly known for wasteful government spending – the number is closer to 200. Counselors, librarians and school nurses have all but vanished from California schools.

To support teachers as they implement California’s new academic standards, school districts will need curriculum developers and instructional coaches. They will need specialists to keep up with rapid changes in technology and to help teachers integrate new technologies into their classrooms. County offices of education will need to staff up to monitor performance and provide assistance to local districts and schools in California’s newly decentralized accountability system. The California Department of Education could be a key source of leadership and support, but after years of budget and staff cuts, the department now does little more than manage federal grants.

The great changes that are under way in California schools won’t yield their promised results until we begin to think outside the classroom.

David Plank is executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education.

Arun Ramanathan

CEO, Pivot Learning Partners

Investing in school and district leadership

State leaders have recently recognized the massive holes in our teacher preparation and retention pipelines. Unfortunately, they have paid scant attention to district and school leaders.

A large percentage of our educator workforce is approaching retirement age. School systems around the state are already feeling the loss of leaders with decades of expertise. My organization, Pivot Learning Partners, works with nearly 100 districts around California. I’m constantly hearing reports from our staff that younger leaders are being pressed into new positions without the preparation, coaching and support they need for the operational, instructional and political challenges they’re facing. These leadership shifts are also happening at a time of significant change in our standards, accountability systems and school funding models. School and district leaders are charged with helping their communities and educators successfully navigate these changes. Without strong support for the leaders in our systems, many of these new initiatives will fail to achieve their potential.

Another concern is that while there has been some talk about the need to recruit more teachers of color who reflect the diversity of our state, there hasn’t been much mention of the recruitment of leaders of color – particularly women of color. For the students of color in our classrooms, great leaders who come from similar backgrounds can provide powerful role models.

As a state, we should make a far more significant investment in both leadership and leadership diversity. We need incentives to bring great educators into district and school leadership pipelines. We need state-wide investments in the necessary coaching and professional development supports at the school and districts levels to build the capacity of new and mid-career leaders. We should support our leaders so they can better support their educators and school communities in this time of change, confront difficult challenges without burning out, and ensure that they have the skills to take on greater leadership opportunities in the future.

Arun Ramanathan is chief executive officer of Pivot Learning Partners in San Francisco.

Ryan Smith

Executive Director, The Education Trust-West

Promoting diversity at all levels of our education system

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s retirement announcement and Gov. Jerry Brown's last term in office provide a unique opportunity to shake up California’s political establishment and elect leaders who reflect California’s diversity. This swing should not stop with the state’s top elected officials, however. California’s educational leadership also deserves a facelift.

In a state that prides itself on diversity, those who steward our education system look virtually the same. According to the Association of California School Administrators, of the more than 1,000 local education agencies within the state, less than 200 are led by superintendents of color. In our state’s classrooms, 73 percent of students are not white, but only about 29 percent of teachers are not white, representing the one of the largest teacher-to-student demographic gaps in the nation.

To close achievement and opportunity gaps, we must promote more leaders whose communities are directly affected by their existence. We need talented individuals to weigh our current educational reality against the state’s burgeoning demographic shifts. This includes fostering the leadership of more women, youth, people of color, members of the gay community, and those who understand poverty. Going forward, more voices should fuel our education debates and help guide future policy decisions.

The impending boomer retirement wave will also create openings within all levels of education. Let’s use this time to intentionally recruit gifted educators, scholars and leaders outside of a few small, privileged circles. Today’s education chiefs need to encourage a cadre of new trailblazers to take the helm as well.

Supporting diverse talent doesn’t mean throwing out our “elders” with the bath water. We need to learn and work with those who helped get us here. However, in a state that prides itself on innovation and progress, we need new individuals to help shape our future success.

Ryan Smith is executive director of The Education Trust-West.

Colleen A.R. You

President, California State PTA

Increase funding for California schools

"The list of important items already on California’s education agenda is long, ambitious and potentially transformative – new standards and assessments, a new accountability system, expanding access to early education, and of course ongoing implementation of the new local funding formula and its focus on the eight state priority areas of the LCAPs.

So, in one sense, it’s important we don't over-extend any further than the significant tasks already at hand. Yet, there is one vital component that dramatically impacts our ability to support all of these other activities, a component that is not being discussed or focused on nearly enough: a long-term plan to address California’s school funding crisis. This includes taking a comprehensive look at the state’s revenue systems and formulating a long-term plan that raises California’s per pupil spending to at least the top 10 among states (as we believe is prescribed in the voter-approved school funding mechanism, Proposition 98) and ensures that the needs and priorities for each child are met.

Without such long-term planning, there is a real danger that legislators and the public will remain complacent, believing that California has somehow “fixed” the chronic underfunding of our schools because this year’s state budget proposal provides additional (and constitutionally required) dollars to schools.

We are of course glad to see additional funding for education in the governor’s budget proposal for the coming school year. However, even with that increase, per-student funding in California ranks near the very bottom compared to other states and does not come close to meeting our needs.

We hear some discussions percolating about what the state should do when the temporary taxes approved by voters through Proposition 30 expire (leaving a $7 billion gap in state income). But even if extended, Proposition 30 was never intended to build a sustainable and adequate system for school funding. It was and remains temporary relief – a way to avoid more harmful funding cuts and to help bring the state’s per-student funding levels back to where they were before the recession.

At California State PTA’s recent legislative conference, our volunteer leaders and parents from across the state delivered this message to their elected state representatives: Support Legislative hearings to create a long-term, comprehensive plan to address California’s school funding crisis. We must not keep kicking this can down the road, and we must move up from the lowest decile nationally.

Absent a long-term funding plan, we can’t expect our children to succeed in today’s global marketplace – and we can’t expect our schools to successfully implement and support all of the important remodeling of the state’s education system upon which future student success depends."

Colleen A. R. You is president of the California State PTA.

Joe Landon

Executive Director, California Alliance for Arts Education

Jeff Camp

Founder, Ed100.org

Louis Freedberg

Executive Director, EdSource

Jennifer Peck

Executive Director, Partnership for Children and Youth

David Plank

Executive Director, Policy Analysis for California Education

Arun Ramanathan

CEO, Pivot Learning Partners

Ryan Smith

Executive Director, The Education Trust-West

Colleen A.R. You

President, California State PTA



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  1. Don 11 months ago11 months ago

    The meaning of “per pupil funding” – that should be on the ed agenda. A district receives its Prop 98 apportionment based upon (1) the total number of students (ADA) and (2) different types of students, undups, special needs, etc., but there’s no state requirement to spend the money on the students who are counted. Why should a district receive funds based upon these various counts and spend funds without regard to the count?

  2. Barbara J. Flory, Ed.D. 12 months ago12 months ago

    PRESCHOOL for ALL -- Research has proven many times over that investing $1 in high-quality preschool programs for students will save society from $7 to $16 in later costs to assist the student that is struggling or not achieving success in school. Those later costs in K-12 education can include special education services, remediation, grade retention, drop-out/alternative programs, etc. However, for the student that failed in K-12 education … Read More

    PRESCHOOL for ALL — Research has proven many times over that investing $1 in high-quality preschool programs for students will save society from $7 to $16 in later costs to assist the student that is struggling or not achieving success in school. Those later costs in K-12 education can include special education services, remediation, grade retention, drop-out/alternative programs, etc. However, for the student that failed in K-12 education those later costs to society and the community can include incarceration, welfare/social services, unemployment, etc.

    For students in poverty that have attended a high-quality preschool and succeeded in K-12 education, the economic benefits to the community are extensive: higher graduation rate, increased higher education completion, higher income level, increased purchasing power, increased collection of income taxes, increased Social Security contributions, higher rate of home ownership, lower criminal rates, lower crime victim restitution rate, etc. States that have implemented a Preschool for ALL program are seeing these benefits.

    One research study was done that showed if all states would implement a high-quality Preschool program for all children in poverty that the cost-benefit projections showed that within 10-15 years they would reach a break-even point and within 30 years they would save enough to eliminate the social security deficit. In California, do we want to continue to be reactive and build bigger and more prisons or invest our money wisely and proactively in ensuring that every child is ready for Kindergarten and has the opportunity to be successful in school?

  3. Anita Johnson 12 months ago12 months ago

    The first and most important step to any improvement plan is to secure stable, long-term funding by reforming Prop 13 to eliminate loopholes for corporate property taxes. Because corporate property rarely changes ownership, most is still taxed based on the value as assessed in 1975. Closing this loophole will generate $9 B in revenue for the state each year and will calm the wild swings in state revenue that have plagued school districts … Read More

    The first and most important step to any improvement plan is to secure stable, long-term funding by reforming Prop 13 to eliminate loopholes for corporate property taxes. Because corporate property rarely changes ownership, most is still taxed based on the value as assessed in 1975. Closing this loophole will generate $9 B in revenue for the state each year and will calm the wild swings in state revenue that have plagued school districts and their planning efforts for the last 40 years. No changes are needed the the portions of Prop 13 that affect residential property. Closing the corporate loophole will eliminate an advantage afforded to older, larger corporation and give smaller, newer businesses a fairer chance at competition. Most importantly, the increased revenue and stability will allow our state to rebuild our schools.

  4. Jonathan Raymond 1 year ago1 year ago

    A 21st Century curriculum preparing students for college and career.

  5. Thomas Timar 1 year ago1 year ago

    District and school leadership is what the UC Davis Center for Applied Policy in Education is all about. Check out our website at
    UC Davis CAP Ed.

  6. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    The Brookings Brief has a piece out today about social emotional learning in public schools.

  7. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    Re the Ed Trust comment:

    “The impending boomer retirement wave will also create openings within all levels of education. Let’s use this time to intentionally recruit gifted educators, scholars and leaders outside of a few small, privileged circles. Today’s education chiefs need to encourage a cadre of new trailblazers to take the helm as well.”

    What exactly is the “small privileged circle.” Is that supposed to be those with BA’s and have completed teacher preparation programs?

  8. SD Parent 1 year ago1 year ago

    I appreciate what Jeff has created (and, as someone who saw the original version, it's looking especially nice now). That said, it's really not as simple as Jeff implied. First, having a PTA doesn't make parents stakeholders in their schools or district. I've been a PTA member for five years (including as our school's PTA legislative rep), but other than the occasional email from CAPTA soliciting my support for a particular legislative … Read More

    I appreciate what Jeff has created (and, as someone who saw the original version, it’s looking especially nice now). That said, it’s really not as simple as Jeff implied.

    First, having a PTA doesn’t make parents stakeholders in their schools or district. I’ve been a PTA member for five years (including as our school’s PTA legislative rep), but other than the occasional email from CAPTA soliciting my support for a particular legislative bill and the nice one-pagers on LCFF and LCAP (and now ed.100), the PTA has NOT reached out me or my school to help teach parents anything about education or afford us an opportunity to have any input into our district’s decision-making, including the LCAP. In fact, our district’s PTA council makes executive decisions on everything (e.g. LCAP input and when to start the calendar year) in district committee meetings that are closed to the public and in private meetings with the superintendent. Their excuses are that they don’t have a mechanism to reach out to their council members directly for input and that the members weren’t informed enough to have an informed opinion.

    Second, most parents are just not interested in learning more. I can’t tell you exactly why, but it seems to be a combination of being focused on their child and his/her classroom and/or being overwhelmed with everything else going on in their lives (e.g. work, fundraising for the school, helping their kids with homework, shuttling their kids around after school and weekends)–the work/life balance all parents struggle with. The net effect is that they don’t really want to know more proactively, just when something impacts their child directly (e.g. why did Mrs. Jones get a pink slip?). And even then, there is this disconnect between what is going on in Sacramento and what is happening at their school (e.g. they can’t see the relevance of the state budget as the reason their child’s class size is larger than last year…). I encouraged everyone at our PTA meeting to participate in ed.100 as a resource to learn more and to help earn our school tickets in the CAPTA raffle, but not one person volunteered to register.

    Finally, I’m not convinced that districts ‘t really want parents who know a lot. I’m fluent in education jargon and acronyms, and I know more about education policy and finance than most district employees (and even the school board trustees). But I’m not on our district’s LCAP planning/review team, which was by invitation only. Instead, the parents are district advisory chairs (e.g. DAC, DELAC, Special Ed–who can’t really be excluded) and “newbie” parents who can’t understand what is being presented enough to ask a probative question or formulate a constructive criticism. (For example, there are no specifics in our LCAP as to how the supplemental and concentration grant funds are being spent–the answer, by the way, is to back-fill an ongoing structural deficit, distributed to school sites as “discretionary” funds that pay for basics like a library assistant to keep the library open, and, if approved by the bargaining units, to pay for recently negotiated employee pay raises.) Call me cynical, but ignorant parents make it so much easier for a district or school (e.g. in SSC) to be able to check off the “parent involvement” box without actually providing any meaningful stakeholder input.

    I don’t have the answer. Perhaps it will take the State Board of Ed to draw up specific guidelines around what actually constitutes “parent involvement” in the LCAP. Then perhaps parents can use what they have learned.

    Replies

    • Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

      SD Parent, I feel your pain. The same happens here in LAUSD, home to one-tenth of California's public school students. Why does that happen? Because those in power don't want the busybodies to muck things up. They don't want true accountability, pure and simple, despite their constantly claiming they do. And being knowledgeable is a double-edged sword because it shows you the depth of the problem and, no, in this particular land of the blind the one-eyed man … Read More

      SD Parent, I feel your pain.

      The same happens here in LAUSD, home to one-tenth of California’s public school students.

      Why does that happen? Because those in power don’t want the busybodies to muck things up. They don’t want true accountability, pure and simple, despite their constantly claiming they do.

      And being knowledgeable is a double-edged sword because it shows you the depth of the problem and, no, in this particular land of the blind the one-eyed man (or woman) will never be king. Unless, of course, the one-eyed man is a con-man extraordinaire in which case the problem is worse.

      I share your opinion that those holding the power (the SBoE, the Governor, and the Legislature) are the ones who can fix this. But, alas, I suppose it is not in their long-term interest to let the inmates rebel against Nurse Ratched.

      • LAParentLeader 11 months ago11 months ago

        Another LAUSD parent here and I completely agree. The district is so big it cannot wrap its arms around anything. To make matters worse, they won't accept help though they claim that the system is open to parent participation and engagement. You have to go through hoops to participate and it is exhausting. Uninformed parents are easily manipulated into believing everything their principals and administrators tell them. Informed and resourceful … Read More

        Another LAUSD parent here and I completely agree. The district is so big it cannot wrap its arms around anything. To make matters worse, they won’t accept help though they claim that the system is open to parent participation and engagement. You have to go through hoops to participate and it is exhausting. Uninformed parents are easily manipulated into believing everything their principals and administrators tell them. Informed and resourceful parents are labeled as “disruptive” because they are too aware, try to raise awareness among others to participate in dialog and decision making and want to hold others accountable. Rather than embrace parent leaders, they push them away until they give up and move schools. Strong parent leadership should be seen as a positive addition to any school. Parents are essentially volunteering their time, energy and resources to make an impact in the lives of their children and those of others at the school. The laws that are supposed to allow parent involvement do not go far enough to govern those aspects. Instead, the lack of oversight creates opportunities for principals who abuse their authority to keep things as they are – i.e. within their control. More needs to be done to advocate for parents rights. LAUSD has a Parents Bill of Rights – but it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on if no one believes in it or upholds those rights.

  9. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    There are a wealth of legitimate studies on educational "achievement" that shows the follow statement by Mr. Plank to be absolutely untrue. "Hiring more teachers to reduce class size is both expensive and generally ineffective in raising student achievement." One cannot disagree with his assertions that trailing the rest of the nation in administrators, counselors, nurses, and librarians is also a handicapping condition for CA's schools and its students. And, as he points out, it (as is … Read More

    There are a wealth of legitimate studies on educational “achievement” that shows the follow statement by Mr. Plank to be absolutely untrue.

    “Hiring more teachers to reduce class size is both expensive and generally ineffective in raising student achievement.”

    One cannot disagree with his assertions that trailing the rest of the nation in administrators, counselors, nurses, and librarians is also a handicapping condition for CA’s schools and its students. And, as he points out, it (as is class size) is all involved with the state being one of the lowest of the 50 states in funding per child in cost-of-living weighted dollars.

    It should also be noted that very solid research indicates that around 2/3rds of ‘ measurable achievement differences are related to conditions outside of schools entirely. Yet another area where the state fails its schools, its students, its parents, and its responsibilities to the “promote the general welfare” of the state’s population.

  10. Gail Monohon 1 year ago1 year ago

    This is absolutely the key to improving public education! Parents and community must take responsibility for their public schools, and they can only do this by demanding education for themselves so that they are informed decision-makers working in full partnership with their school employees. PTA has offered a great start on this with Ed100.org. Anyone who aspires to serve on a school board should first take this online course, and should pledge … Read More

    This is absolutely the key to improving public education! Parents and community must take responsibility for their public schools, and they can only do this by demanding education for themselves so that they are informed decision-makers working in full partnership with their school employees. PTA has offered a great start on this with Ed100.org. Anyone who aspires to serve on a school board should first take this online course, and should pledge to strongly support educating the community. Website: http://www.ourschoolsforourchildren.com

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      I'm sure you mean well, but your comment is just meaningless platitudes. You say the parents and community have to take responsibility for the school. What exactly are you suggesting? The community has no seat at the table when all important decisions are made -not when it comes to our standards, our curriculum, our district budget or school budget or anything whatsoever to do with the union. And now that we have Common Core our … Read More

      I’m sure you mean well, but your comment is just meaningless platitudes. You say the parents and community have to take responsibility for the school. What exactly are you suggesting? The community has no seat at the table when all important decisions are made -not when it comes to our standards, our curriculum, our district budget or school budget or anything whatsoever to do with the union. And now that we have Common Core our standards are those created of the few (less than 5) individuals who were responsible for putting it all together.

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Gail, take the opt-out movement by way of example. Why are parents suddenly deciding to boycott tests that their children have taken for years? Many parents feel their children's education has been hijacked by the Feds and they don't like what they see coming home with regard to the Common Core instruction. These sweeping changes have come down on schools by decree. There's been practically no input by the local school communities into … Read More

      Gail, take the opt-out movement by way of example. Why are parents suddenly deciding to boycott tests that their children have taken for years? Many parents feel their children’s education has been hijacked by the Feds and they don’t like what they see coming home with regard to the Common Core instruction. These sweeping changes have come down on schools by decree. There’s been practically no input by the local school communities into the new standards, curriculum, instructional methodologies or tests. The Governor’s Association had no legislative grant of authority to change our standards. The USDE had to coerce states to comply. So now parents in the know are giving what input they can and the only meaningful way of expressing their discontent is through opting out. Why is that? As I said in so many words, parents have no place at the bargaining table. The much ballyhooed LCAP process came and went and nothing concerning governance has changed. Besides opting out, the only other avenue for feedback is voting. Had Governor Brown required that schools be part of the LCAP process of community buy-in perhaps it would have been different. So, Gail, when you tell me that I as a parent need to get educated, it really rubs me the wrong way. While policy experts and education insiders chit chat and backslap about reform largely on the public dime, we parents have had no say in any of the sweeping changes taking place. So, I hope you see, Gail, it isn’t that parents don’t know enough to participate effectively. It’s that they have no avenue to do so save the polling place.

      • Jeff Camp 1 year ago1 year ago

        Don, you write "it isn't that parents don't know enough to participate effectively." I want that to be true. At present, though, many parents don't feel that way. Who can blame them? The education system is complex, changing, and (as you point out) not particularly designed to require or invite input. It is authentically difficult for parents to decode the system quickly enough to influence it. http://Ed100.org is meant to speed things up by making … Read More

        Don, you write “it isn’t that parents don’t know enough to participate effectively.” I want that to be true. At present, though, many parents don’t feel that way. Who can blame them? The education system is complex, changing, and (as you point out) not particularly designed to require or invite input. It is authentically difficult for parents to decode the system quickly enough to influence it. http://Ed100.org is meant to speed things up by making the learning process intentional.

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Jeff, you correctly point out that parents in general are not well informed. My point should have been that the ones that are informed don't influence the process either. Are you saying that a mass groundswell of newly informed parents would have more effect? If so, how so? We have a system of school boards and their appointed Superintendents and administrations and within this system there isn't any effective institutional role in … Read More

          Jeff, you correctly point out that parents in general are not well informed. My point should have been that the ones that are informed don’t influence the process either. Are you saying that a mass groundswell of newly informed parents would have more effect? If so, how so? We have a system of school boards and their appointed Superintendents and administrations and within this system there isn’t any effective institutional role in which the school community exerts ]influence, except to the extent that the community has voters and those voters elect board members. Parents can get educated on school affairs and all the byzantine aspects of the district, state and federal laws, but I’m afraid that will only make them more educated bystanders with less time for their children.

          Does the school community have a rightful role in collective bargaining, for example? That community is not deemed a party in the discussion between management and labor even though those decisions directly impact classrooms and students, more so than the yearly Prop 98 allocation. Parents do occasionally band together to complain about a principal or teacher, but that is usually as far as parent power goes. If you want a parent voice that has clout then they need to have a council with political influence – a veto power. That will happen when hell freezes over. It certainly won’t be the LCAP that brings community input to local decisionmaking. No sir.

          • Tom 1 year ago1 year ago

            Totally agree with you Jeff and Don, and would add that District Administrators seem to use jargon which is difficult to interpret without some help and experience. Regarding the collective bargaining with unions, I would accuse Districts of using unclear School Board agenda packets about such matters including statements that at times leave out particular details. I am concerned that this is deliberate to avoid scrutiny that they would be inconvenienced to defend. … Read More

            Totally agree with you Jeff and Don, and would add that District Administrators seem to use jargon which is difficult to interpret without some help and experience. Regarding the collective bargaining with unions, I would accuse Districts of using unclear School Board agenda packets about such matters including statements that at times leave out particular details. I am concerned that this is deliberate to avoid scrutiny that they would be inconvenienced to defend. Finally, have found that when teachers get a bump in compensation (5-7% this year in our District) then the “classified” employees (eg. SEIU) get the same which is then followed by the very Administrators that negotiated the collective bargaining negotiations! Takes some due diligence to follow this practice, but is a clear case of self interest, and it is allowed to continue unabated despite the cries of under funding! Given that, I suppose their tactics are working.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Tom: The fact that teachers, classified personnel, and administrators (for the most part) had no salary increases and, in many cases, had salary reductions via "furlough days" for the last 7 or 8 years makes a 5% or even 7% salary increase seem pretty slim. That, after all, would be about one percent a year. And it is the teachers, classified personnel, and administrators who provide the various programs that benefit the students. No one is … Read More

              Tom:

              The fact that teachers, classified personnel, and administrators (for the most part) had no salary increases and, in many cases, had salary reductions via “furlough days” for the last 7 or 8 years makes a 5% or even 7% salary increase seem pretty slim. That, after all, would be about one percent a year. And it is the teachers, classified personnel, and administrators who provide the various programs that benefit the students. No one is out ordering up a new BMW or a second home on Maui on that increase.

              Where do you think the money should go?

              The assertion that CA school might not be underfunded is a case of wallowing in a syndrome of unreality. Through a combination of increased state revenues and Prop 30 CA schools have now moved up to around 30th of the 50 states in unadjusted dollars. That’s a real improvement, but still leaves the average funding per student $1,000 dollars below the national average. In dollars adjusted for regional cost-of-living CA may move out of the bottom 10 of the 50 states in actual funding per student; that is, in dollars that will actually buy something in CA.

              How would you define “underfunding?”

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Me too. And it's worth nothing that 'inconvenienced to defend' is a valid response when the inconvenience comes at the expense of running a district, and thus impacts teachers and kids. Not only are districts not staffed to an extent that would allow a level of detail required by the most vocal community members, but relying on 'partners' who are entirely volunteer is extremely problematic. And although I think Jeff's work is important, I don't … Read More

              Me too.
              And it’s worth nothing that ‘inconvenienced to defend’ is a valid response when the inconvenience comes at the expense of running a district, and thus impacts teachers and kids. Not only are districts not staffed to an extent that would allow a level of detail required by the most vocal community members, but relying on ‘partners’ who are entirely volunteer is extremely problematic. And although I think Jeff’s work is important, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect normal parents to be able to attend all relevant meetings. Board meetings are not even where the real stuff happens. That is in the subcommittee meetings that are very frequent and often conflict with working schedules.
              Technology probably provides a way to address part of this problem but that would require modification of a culture that was created in a different environment. Not something that will be easy despite the level of willingness.

            • Tom 1 year ago1 year ago

              Gary, Would agree that wages have been flat for teachers for that last 7 years - as it has been for the entire working population because of the great recession! It is really really bad fiscal policy for government agencies grant salary increases that are not supported by economic activity that increases tax revenue. The Feds can print money, but California cannot and is just kicking the proverbial can down the road and … Read More

              Gary, Would agree that wages have been flat for teachers for that last 7 years – as it has been for the entire working population because of the great recession! It is really really bad fiscal policy for government agencies grant salary increases that are not supported by economic activity that increases tax revenue. The Feds can print money, but California cannot and is just kicking the proverbial can down the road and burdening our children with debt that either 1) will have to be paid off through decreased services, or 2)inflating away the debt (more likely) and everyone loses.

              As far as underfunding, Baltimore is #2 in per pupil spending and look where that got them. Diminishing returns at some point due to forces outside the walls of the schools, which is also a government created problem, but that is a subject for a different webpage.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Tom: The fact that salaries have been flat in both the public and private sector is one of the chief impediments to a full recovery. Decreased salaries equates with decreased consumption and the US economy is 70% consumption driven. The state of CA has experienced a surge in tax revenues (that is documented everywhere--how could you miss it?) and Prop 30 revenues are piled on top of that. Schools are getting more money and the employees … Read More

              Tom:

              The fact that salaries have been flat in both the public and private sector is one of the chief impediments to a full recovery. Decreased salaries equates with decreased consumption and the US economy is 70% consumption driven.

              The state of CA has experienced a surge in tax revenues (that is documented everywhere–how could you miss it?) and Prop 30 revenues are piled on top of that. Schools are getting more money and the employees deserve their fair share of that. What amounts, in the district you specified, to a1% increase per year is hardly exorbitant. Or is there just a resentment to public employees being paid fairly?

              As CA continues to approach the national average in school spending in unadjusted dollars only an extremist would imply there is something wrong there. As the state in adjusted dollars continues to lag the nation “over spending on schools” is a specious issue.

              Baltimore, like the oft mentioned Washington DC, is an outlier representing little about education spending in general. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that Baltimore has significant social and economic issues? And, as a city, it is about 4th in the nation, not 2nd. Maryland as a state spends more than the national average and state results on the NAEP are above the national average.

              Recently the Washington Post listed the spending of major city school systems and LA, CA was 18th of 18 mentioned reflects CA’s dismal school spending.

              The highest spending states correlate nicely with the highest performing states on the NAEP. (It also correlates with the highest percentages of unionized teachers!) Money matters in education as it does in other areas, like defense, and that shows quite consistently across the nation. That being said, the schools cannot make up for deep levels of social and economic disfunction that have been inflicted on minority populations in some of our cities like DC and Baltimore. Schools can provide respite and desperately needed services to the kids in those cities not measured by the NAEP.

              This “handing off debt to our kids bit” is worse than a cliche. The biggest debt in US history (results of the Depression and WWII) was handed off by the Greatest Generation to their kids, the Boomers. That’s my group. I never wrote a check to cover it. The highly equitable and union driven economy of the 50s and 60s just “ate it up.”

  11. Anita Johnson 1 year ago1 year ago

    Senator Loni Hancock has taken the lead on a long-term funding plan for our schools. Next week she will introduce a bill designed to reform corporate property taxes. For regular people, the value of our property is reassessed when it changes owners. Because corporations are both immortal and use strategically structured ownership agreements, their property is never reassessed. Most corporate property is still assessed at the value it had in 1970. … Read More

    Senator Loni Hancock has taken the lead on a long-term funding plan for our schools. Next week she will introduce a bill designed to reform corporate property taxes. For regular people, the value of our property is reassessed when it changes owners. Because corporations are both immortal and use strategically structured ownership agreements, their property is never reassessed. Most corporate property is still assessed at the value it had in 1970. By correcting this inherent unfairness in Prop 13, Hancock’s proposal will generate billions of dollars in additional funding for our state and our schools.

  12. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    I have one overarching concern. California is implementing local control returning much decision-making to the LEAs and at the same time we adopted a national set of standards that is the opposite of local control. These two fundamental changes exist in conflict to one another. What and to a large extent how we teach our children is no longer within the purview of the localities. The loss of community input has stirred … Read More

    I have one overarching concern. California is implementing local control returning much decision-making to the LEAs and at the same time we adopted a national set of standards that is the opposite of local control. These two fundamental changes exist in conflict to one another. What and to a large extent how we teach our children is no longer within the purview of the localities. The loss of community input has stirred deep-seated democratic tendencies and fueled the opt-out movement.

    Though it’s impossible to opt-out of Common Core in California public schools, families can opt out of the tests for Common Core and thereby express their dissatisfaction with federally-inspired and directed education policy which is an affront to the historical tradition of locally-driven public education.

    Replies

    • Barbara J. Flory, Ed.D. 12 months ago12 months ago

      Common Core standards were not designed as national standards or a federally-mandated curriculum. They were developed from the grass-roots with several state governors meeting to have a conversation about WHY their state standards were not increasing student achievement and preparing students to succeed in K-12 education. From that conversation and including the state superintendents of instruction in the discussion, the interest grew in having a common research-based set of standards … Read More

      Common Core standards were not designed as national standards or a federally-mandated curriculum. They were developed from the grass-roots with several state governors meeting to have a conversation about WHY their state standards were not increasing student achievement and preparing students to succeed in K-12 education. From that conversation and including the state superintendents of instruction in the discussion, the interest grew in having a common research-based set of standards that all students would experience in classrooms, whether that are in California or Maine, and prepare them to be college and career ready. Knowing that students often move to another state within their K-12 education years, having common learning goals from state-to-state would be very beneficial. Also knowing that students often attend a higher education institution in another state from their K-12 schooling, having common learning targets could benefit colleges and universities from having to spend large amounts of money on remediation programs. Businesses that have studied Common Core have added their support because it could also save them huge amounts of money in remediation and basic-skills training costs for new employees. Please become informed about Common Core by checking out the website provided that dispels many myths and misunderstandings that are rampant about Common Core.

  13. navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

    common core classes for parents

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