Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource Today
Tom Torlakson

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has softened clear-cut guidance his department issued in a memo regarding the use of money intended for underserved students to fund across-the-board pay raises for teachers.

Torlakson changed the tone and backed off some of the restrictions of the earlier memo in a June 10 letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators. It came two weeks after EdSource Today published an April letter from Jeff Breshears, an administrator in the California Department of Education, to Jim Yovino, superintendent of the Fresno County Office of Education. Breshears’ letter was a response to Yovino’s inquiry.

The letters address a critical issue that has created tension between school boards and teachers unions: how to interpret the rules governing the extra dollars earmarked for “high-needs” students – low-income children, English learners and foster youth – through the Local Control Funding Formula. The funding formula grants districts broad authority over spending decisions. But it also states that the “supplemental and concentration” dollars for high-needs students must be used to increase and improve services for those students. After years of state cuts in education, many districts are now flush with money and are bargaining over how to strike the balance between expanding programs and granting long-deferred pay raises.

Breshears’ letter, which had been reviewed by lawyers for the department, said only in “some limited circumstances” could supplemental and concentration dollars fund unrestricted pay raises for teachers. The “burden” districts face in approving the raises would be “very heavy,” Breshears wrote. In omitting Breshears’ unambiguous wording, Torlakson’s explanation appears to signal that districts have more latitude in deciding what’s permissible. Torlakson wrote that his memo clarifies and supersedes Breshears’ letter, which “may have created some misunderstandings.”

Bill Ainsworth, director of communications for the Department of Education, said that Torlakson was unavailable for an interview but that the letter speaks for itself. Ainsworth said that Torlakson had not read Breshears’ memo before it went out and decided to take a “more thorough look” at the issue after receiving questions regarding Breshears’ interpretation. He did not say what those questions were or who was asking them.

Torlakson’s perspective is closer to the view of the California Teachers Association, which objected to Breshears’ interpretation of the law. Torlakson, a high school science and history teacher before turning to politics, has been a close ally of the CTA during his 14 years in the Legislature and two terms as state superintendent. In the most expensive statewide race last year, the CTA spent more than $13 million to help re-elect Torlakson. In 2006, Torlakson authored the Quality Education Investment Act, a $3 billion program that resulted from an out-of-court settlement between the state and the CTA that lowered class sizes and put additional counselors in low-performing schools.

In criticizing Breshears’ letter, Claudia Briggs, communications assistant manager for the CTA, said the funding law gives maximum flexibility to school districts to decide how money should be spent, and that includes raising salaries to attract and keep teachers. Briggs said in an email last week that Torlakson’s letter “looks like it’s more in line with the law over which CDE (the Department of Education) has no purview anyway.”

Breshears’ and Torlakson’s letters differ in tone and emphasis, but both conclude, after analyzing the funding law and State Board of Education regulations implementing it, that the extra money for high-needs students can be used for across-the-board teacher raises under some conditions. Both said that difficulties in recruiting, hiring and retaining teachers that have adversely affected students’ academic progress could justify a district’s use of that money. (Torlakson noted that this was just one example and wasn’t intended to be the only one.) Both agreed that the district must document why it needs to use that money for raises in the district’s annual academic plan, known as the Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

But Breshears emphasizes the hurdles that the regulations impose while Torlakson gives districts more latitude. Breshears’ letter advises that a district must establish that its teacher salaries are low “in comparison with other districts in its labor market.” Torlakson is silent on this aspect.

Breshears said that a district also “must” cite a goal for improving academic improvement that higher pay would accomplish. County offices of education, which review districts’ LCAPs, would require a district to stop using the supplemental and concentration dollars for those raises “within a reasonable time” if the goal isn’t achieved. Torlakson’s letter says the district “might” include an academic achievement goal and does not mention consequences if there’s no improvement.

The funding law says that districts can use supplemental and concentration funding for districtwide purposes that are “effective” in meeting goals of high-needs students. In those districts in which high-needs children make up less than 55 percent of enrollment, districts must show that the spending is “the most effective” choice. Breshears’ letter elaborated, calling this additional requirement “extremely” difficult “if not impossible to meet.”

Civil rights groups, including the legal firm Public Advocates and the advocacy organization Children Now, had praised Breshears’ letter but had varying reactions to Torlakson’s response. “We are shocked at the reversal,” wrote Samantha Tran, senior managing director of education for Children Now. She said she failed to see how simply paying more for the same level of services complies with the funding law and regulations.

But John Affeldt, managing attorney of Public Advocates, said that the two letters reached essentially the same conclusion about the use of supplemental and concentration funds for raises – that there is, in fact, a heavy burden of proof to justify it. “The tone of the first was more appropriate,” Affeldt said, “but the only real difference between the two versions is a point of emphasis.”

Both letters acknowledge that districts can use supplemental and concentration dollars to pay salaries for targeted purposes, such as to lengthen the school day for high-needs students. Other districts have used the money to reduce class sizes and provide more time for teachers to collaborate or receive training.

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  1. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Back in May 2011 Margaret Weston of PPIC wrote in her report, "California's New School Funding Flexibility": Recommendation Three (p28): Consider Some Restrictions on Flexible Funds "Loosening restrictions for some programs is not advocating that there should be no restrictions. If the legislature set per pupil rates that could be equalized over time, one option would be to simply fold some or all flexible funds into revenue limit funding, a logical option if the funds support general purposes. However, the state … Read More

    Back in May 2011 Margaret Weston of PPIC wrote in her report, “California’s New School Funding Flexibility”:

    Recommendation Three (p28):

    Consider Some Restrictions on Flexible Funds

    “Loosening restrictions for some programs is not advocating that there should be no restrictions. If the
    legislature set per pupil rates that could be equalized over time, one option would be to simply fold some or
    all flexible funds into revenue limit funding, a logical option if the funds support general purposes.
    However, the state has placed restrictions on flexible funding for many reasons. One has been to ensure that the funds do not support general salary increases. As noted earlier, salary increases or salary renegotiations in many districts’ employment contracts are triggered when general purpose funding increases. This concern is not solely held at the state level. In their survey of 49 school district superintendents, Sonstelie, Rose, and Reinhard (2006) found that superintendents prefer some flexible restricted funds to unrestricted funding because they fear that unrestricted funds would go entirely to unjustified increases in employee compensation.”

    Now that we have the ultimate flexibility that we call LCFF, this warning is all the more prophetic.

  2. Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

    "In criticizing Breshears’ letter, Claudia Briggs, communications assistant manager for the CTA, said the funding law gives maximum flexibility to school districts to decide how money should be spent, and that includes raising salaries to attract and keep teachers. Briggs said in an email last week that Torlakson’s letter “looks like it’s more in line with the law over which CDE (the Department of Education) has no purview anyway.” What that means is that if a … Read More

    “In criticizing Breshears’ letter, Claudia Briggs, communications assistant manager for the CTA, said the funding law gives maximum flexibility to school districts to decide how money should be spent, and that includes raising salaries to attract and keep teachers. Briggs said in an email last week that Torlakson’s letter “looks like it’s more in line with the law over which CDE (the Department of Education) has no purview anyway.”

    What that means is that if a district is not complying with Public Disclosure laws and is not including the Public in the LCAP- the teachers Union – with Union elected Board members is simply stealing money from students – entering into illegal contracts that result in the unjust enrichment of employees at the expense of students has to be stopped. This is absolutely disgraceful.

  3. Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

    It must be nice to fight over concentration grant money and Supplemental Grant money. My District is basically funded by the Base Grant which is set so low that we will never see class sizes below 31.5 for kindergarten- we will never fix all the aging facilities that have not been maintained for the past 6 years, we will never see any programs that were cut during the $152 million in budget cuts we endured … Read More

    It must be nice to fight over concentration grant money and Supplemental Grant money. My District is basically funded by the Base Grant which is set so low that we will never see class sizes below 31.5 for kindergarten- we will never fix all the aging facilities that have not been maintained for the past 6 years, we will never see any programs that were cut during the $152 million in budget cuts we endured the past six years. But like Torlakson and Jerry Brown planned with the teachers Union- Prop 30 wasn’t for the students- it was to backfill unfunded pension liabilities. And surprise- the only thing that has been restored is teachers salaries, Despite the fact that Capistrano Unified School District receives $7,002 per student all of our employees have gotten across the board compensation increases for the past 3 years… even when the District had to increase class sizes and use furlough days to balance the budget. The local control funding formula and LCAP are a joke- there is no oversight – the only thing that is truly being restored under this law are teachers salaries and pensions. Tom Torlakson you should be ashamed of what you are doing to the students who have only one opportunity to get an education and are being deprived of their right to a basic public education simply because they happen to live in a wealthy area. You should be in jail for what you have done to the California Public Education System. You cannot educate a student for $7,002. Tom- How does a District have employee compensation that is over 90% of the districts budget cut $152 million and the teachers salary schedule remains untouched throughout all of those cuts- please explain that to me?

    If you want to know the truth about my district: http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2014/11/re-research-brief-toward-grand-vision.html

    Shame on you Tom Torlakson-

  4. Chris Reed 1 year ago1 year ago

    The idea that Torlakson’s letter isn’t much different from the April memo is preposterous.

    The April memo is straightforward in placing fairly clear, strong restrictions on what the money can be used for.

    Torlakson’s letter makes everything murkier and thus much easier to finesse at the district level.

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Not at all. They both cite the same statutes, even similar wording. The primary diffrrence is the former wants to add his take on how he thinks the COE would respond and why. The latter never mentions that.

  5. Eric Premack 1 year ago1 year ago

    For good or for ill, Torlakson's revised letter actually understates the degree of financial flexibility that districts enjoy under LCFF. The key sentence in the letter incorrectly asserts that the supplemental and concentration funding "must be used" to increase or improve services for the high-need pupils. In fact, the law is more flexible than this. The law simply states that districts must increase or improve services to the high-need pupils in proportion … Read More

    For good or for ill, Torlakson’s revised letter actually understates the degree of financial flexibility that districts enjoy under LCFF.

    The key sentence in the letter incorrectly asserts that the supplemental and concentration funding “must be used” to increase or improve services for the high-need pupils. In fact, the law is more flexible than this.

    The law simply states that districts must increase or improve services to the high-need pupils in proportion to the increase in funding. Whether the district achieves this proportional increase by spending more money or through other means (e.g., increased efficiencies, cutting elsewhere, etc.) is largely up to the district. Yes, a district serving under 55 percent high-need students may need to argue that a salary increase is the “most effective” means, but this is a very subjective determination, isn’t necessarily tied to the expenditures, and doubtless our friends in the labor community will help districts make the “correct” interpretations.

    As I wrote in a post for this site back in June of 2013 just before LCFF was enacted, LCFF is “no match for the powerful suction of the labor bargaining table.” Nor was the prior system–and I don’t recommend returning to it.

    Those of us who have concerns about the power imbalance at the bargaining table need to look to tools beyond LCFF, including increasing parents’ political and market leverage in the K12 system because constitutional limitations preclude fixing the money-driven school board electoral process. These fixes include expanding California’s currently-weak inter-district enrollment laws, beefing-up our charter school laws to provide more options to empower teachers, site administrators, and parents to start and manage new and more autonomous schools, etc. It also should include requiring collective bargaining sessions to be conducted in a way that the public can monitor proposed terms and how they would interact with local control accountability plans.

    Absent such changes, we can expect the suction at the bargaining table to continue apace. Returning to the old restricted categorical mess is no solution. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the “civil rights” advocacy groups to shift their strategies in recognition of these apparent realities.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      Eric: You know, word going around is that the "money-driven... electoral process" is currently corrupting the whole nations electoral process and particularly to the advance of that political party that most supports "choice" and "charter schools." (Admittedly there are some neo-liberals in that group too.) Are you interested in reforming that process too? Read More

      Eric:

      You know, word going around is that the “money-driven… electoral process” is currently corrupting the whole nations electoral process and particularly to the advance of that political party that most supports “choice” and “charter schools.” (Admittedly there are some neo-liberals in that group too.)

      Are you interested in reforming that process too?

      • Eric Premack 1 year ago1 year ago

        Gary: You asked if I’m interested in reforming campaign finance. The short response is “yes, very much so.” Court rulings in the Citizens United v. FEC and similar cases, however, seems to make this nearly impossible. Hence the need to reach to other levers.

        • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

          Eric:

          Good. Glad to hear it. You would, of course, face an uphill trudge afterwords, I think.

  6. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 1 year ago1 year ago

    Same-old same-old. It is heartbreaking. LCFF has no teeth in it assuring proper use of the tax-based windfall when it arrives in local school districts: to directly improve the lot of socio-economically poor students who are academically faltering. Of course ex-teacher ex-legislator Supe of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson "interprets" the rule in concert with the California Teachers Association. He and the CTA are only secondarily interested in using this money for students. They want across-the-board raises … Read More

    Same-old same-old. It is heartbreaking.

    LCFF has no teeth in it assuring proper use of the tax-based windfall when it arrives in local school districts: to directly improve the lot of socio-economically poor students who are academically faltering.

    Of course ex-teacher ex-legislator Supe of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson “interprets” the rule in concert with the California Teachers Association. He and the CTA are only secondarily interested in using this money for students. They want across-the-board raises for teachers paid with LCFF money.

    Their call to hire more teachers and reduce class-size is window-dressing for getting salary increases for teachers. It’s the way it’s always been in this state: biggest class-size in the nation and highest teacher salaries.

    LCFF funds come from Jerry Brown’s Prop 30 which was a Tro]an horse for the CTA’s objectives. Molly Munger’s (defeated) tax proposal was a better measure for the children of California. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Well, if it's a trojan horse, this is not the reason. Remember, any district above 55% can use the money for across the board raises without having to prove it was the most effective use. That's about 60% of CA districts (and more importantly, probably about 90% of the s&c money (estimating)). Even then, remember that the amount of money that districts get when they are below the 55% threshold is less than those above it; … Read More

      Well, if it’s a trojan horse, this is not the reason. Remember, any district above 55% can use the money for across the board raises without having to prove it was the most effective use. That’s about 60% of CA districts (and more importantly, probably about 90% of the s&c money (estimating)).
      Even then, remember that the amount of money that districts get when they are below the 55% threshold is less than those above it; in many cases, a LOT less.
      For example, a district like capistrano, which has about 25% unduplicated rate will get approx 5% extra state funding in s&c grants. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, it wouldnt be any kind of ‘windfall’ for teachers. In fact, if that entire amount were dedicated solely to teacher raises it would only raise pay less than 10% (and that at lcff full funding). Although that fact could be used to highlight the inadequacy of the s&c grants for low rate districts, it could also be used to highlight the fact that there really isnt all that much money to ‘steal’ in districts below the 55% threshold. The vast majority of s&c grants will be going to districts above that threshold, where they, of course, have essentially no restriction on how they use the funds (lcff may be a trojan horse there, but not related to this letter).
      My guess is even if torlakson intended to tell districts to go ahead and use it this way (which i dispute he did), he probably feels its kind of a moot point anyway. In the extreme case where the entire s&c amount were used for raises, not only would a district have to address 8 state priorities with that one funding use in their LCAP, but in doing so, would have to defend this sole use to its community. Furthermore, if teacher salaries in high poverty districts end up being much higher (due to the additional freedom afforded by exceeding the 55% threshold, and additional amount of money that also brings), I expect the super would be fine with such a turn of events given the idea that funds are supposed to be helping the more disadvantaged kids anyway. The unspoken side-effect may in fact be that all ‘great’ teachers gravitate toward high-poverty districts. Some would argue if there is anything we need, that is it.
      Even if this stands, it will be interesting to see how much s&c money ever gets used for across the board raises in below-55% districts. I bet none. I expect instead to see s&c dedicated toward special education, and base grants instead to be directed toward raises. 🙂

      • Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 1 year ago1 year ago

        What, navigio, do you sit at the bargaining table in your district? Your response is gibberish, though I realize
        it’s hard to respond intelligibly to the truth. You, Ravani, CTA — you do what you are programmed to do.
        But Jerry Brown and Tom Torlakson got elected and are sustained by CTA — California kids be damned.
        It is small solace to realize these guys are hacks and it will be a relief when they out of the picture.

        • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

          When in doubt, go personal I guess. And quite an effort for unintelligible gibberish.
          They may be bought and paid but if they are the implications of this letter are chicken feed compared to the rest of lcff. Maybe if you could have set aside your preconceptions about people you would have gotten my point. I guess it doesn’t matter though; politics sells better.

          • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

            You have to wonder if the designers of LCFF ever gave any thought to how some of these issues might play out with most everything dumped into the district GF and no concrete accountability requirements for spending, as exemplified in Torlakson's correction letter. Fungible as money is, the LCAP merely keeps a few strategists busy figuring out how best to declare in words their utmost respect for the LCFF law, while stealthily moving funds to … Read More

            You have to wonder if the designers of LCFF ever gave any thought to how some of these issues might play out with most everything dumped into the district GF and no concrete accountability requirements for spending, as exemplified in Torlakson’s correction letter. Fungible as money is, the LCAP merely keeps a few strategists busy figuring out how best to declare in words their utmost respect for the LCFF law, while stealthily moving funds to meet a district’s own agenda. Or not. Perhaps the gloss of good intentions existed only to create a glare on the window of transparency.

            Navigio, as I mentioned before, it is more likely the base grant will pay SC teacher raises and you seem to concur. Why is it not OK to use SC grants to pay for raises but perfectly fine to use the base grant? The solution, a per pupil minimum, is anathema to all those who want to drink at the trough of the 84%. Since formerly restricted funding for compensatory education never lowered the achievement gap, that state embarrassment was resolved by ridding itself of most targeted programs. It will be next to impossible to hold anyone responsible for how much was spent and whether LCFF achieved anything. Problem solved.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Yes they gave it thought. They succeeded of absolving themselves of most of the responsibility for what happens locally. I've argued all along that was the primary intent of local control, though this still is not achieved as long as funding levels are too low in some districts. And there never was a window of transparency. Re your second paragraph, it's simple Don, the spirit of LCFF is to direct more money and resources toward more … Read More

              Yes they gave it thought. They succeeded of absolving themselves of most of the responsibility for what happens locally. I’ve argued all along that was the primary intent of local control, though this still is not achieved as long as funding levels are too low in some districts. And there never was a window of transparency.
              Re your second paragraph, it’s simple Don, the spirit of LCFF is to direct more money and resources toward more disadvantaged students via s&c grants. A district that is not made up primarily of disadvantaged students cannot do that by giving district-wide teacher raises (or by implementing any other district-wide strategy, for that matter). Especially as to the extent there are ‘me too’ clauses, a focus on teacher salaries subsequently becomes a focus on all employees.
              Furthermore, it’s difficult to argue compensatory education never lowered the achievement gap for a number of reasons, first, because some gaps have in fact changed, second because the measures used to ‘measure them’ could be argued create the gaps in the first place, and third because it’s difficult to argue that prior compensatory education was ever done to a sufficient extent to change anything (ie perhaps it was the right approach, but simply not enough resources dedicated to it. of course it may also have been poorly implemented).
              In the end, to the extent it will be impossible to hold anyone accountable, that will be a result of poorly authored LCAPs (and I would argue, related budgetary documentation). Local control does have a benefit in that districts now ‘report’ primarily to their community instead of the state. If the community does not realize it’s supposed to be paying attention, that will be a real problem.

            • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

              What Torlakson’s clarification claim clarifies is the incomplete clarity created by clearing the course for continued confusion.

        • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

          Frances: I extended you the courtesy of spelling your name correctly (not Francis, as in the talking mule, but Frances). You might extend the same courtesy to me by not continually identifying me with CTA. Not that there is anything to be concerned about such an identification, but I was an officer with the CA Federation of Teachers for 25 years. I am now retired, but continue as a member of the CFT Educational Issues Committee. … Read More

          Frances:

          I extended you the courtesy of spelling your name correctly (not Francis, as in the talking mule, but Frances). You might extend the same courtesy to me by not continually identifying me with CTA. Not that there is anything to be concerned about such an identification, but I was an officer with the CA Federation of Teachers for 25 years. I am now retired, but continue as a member of the CFT Educational Issues Committee.

          CFT’s Millionaire’s Tax Initiative was, of course, melded with Governor Brown’s proposed initiative to create Prop 30. Prop 25 was an initiative to lower the passage of the CA budget to to a majority vote and put a stop to the Party of No holding the process hostage. Prop 25 was a CFT sponsored initiative and successfully passed with the help of many community partners. This was an actual grass-roots effort as opposed to the billionaire driven astro-turf efforts of many enemies of public education and what’s best for children.

          Both CFT and CTA are proud organizations that represent some of the finest and most dedicated people in the nation. Our goals are often similar, but we are different organizations and have different organizational structures.

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      Frances: There you go again. WAPO recently ran an article about the median salary needed to buy a home in various US cities. For example, along with median teacher salaries in those cities: Sacramento: House-$59K Teacher salary- around $60K San Francisco: House-$143K Teacher salary-around $68K Los Angeles: House-$90K Teacher salary-around $61K San Diego: House-$96K Teacher salary-around $59K So the average teacher cannot afford an average house in most cities except Sacramento. i guess we could build a gian teacher ghetto in Sacramento … Read More

      Frances:

      There you go again.

      WAPO recently ran an article about the median salary needed to buy a home in various US cities. For example, along with median teacher salaries in those cities:

      Sacramento: House-$59K Teacher salary- around $60K
      San Francisco: House-$143K Teacher salary-around $68K
      Los Angeles: House-$90K Teacher salary-around $61K
      San Diego: House-$96K Teacher salary-around $59K

      So the average teacher cannot afford an average house in most cities except Sacramento. i guess we could build a gian teacher ghetto in Sacramento and have the bullet rain swoosh them to work every morning. A couple of extra hours to correct paper, I guess.

      BTW, the RAND Corp, did a report a few years ago and found that CA teachers did have (near) the highest salaries in the nation, but when adjusted for cost-of-living they were below the national average.

  7. navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

    Yes is the new no. I think people are misinterpreting the difference between the two letters. Both say there is an extra burden to show the fund use was the most effective of all alternatives when below 55%. The previous letter did not disallow such use but pointed out how difficult that would be to prove. This letter says the same thing but without implying difficulty. Perhaps the thought is since high performing districts can … Read More

    Yes is the new no.

    I think people are misinterpreting the difference between the two letters. Both say there is an extra burden to show the fund use was the most effective of all alternatives when below 55%. The previous letter did not disallow such use but pointed out how difficult that would be to prove. This letter says the same thing but without implying difficulty.

    Perhaps the thought is since high performing districts can perform apparently independent of better teacher pay, that increased pay only proves effective for lower performing students, even if it is provided for all teachers. In this sense, an across the board increase would in fact provide additional support to unduplicated students while being irrelevant for non. The problem there is it wouldn’t longer be in proportion to the amount of extra funding received.

    I bet we get another letter. 🙂

  8. Doctor J 1 year ago1 year ago

    He was bought, paid for, and he has now delivered.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Mr. Breshears, this is Tom Torlakson. How can I help you? You can stop flying off the handle and interpreting the law. Do you know who runs this department? Yes, sir! Didn't you get the memo? What memo, sir? The one from the CTA? Ya, but I thought.... You thought what, Mr. Breshears? I..I thought the supplemental and concentration grants were... Were what. Mr. Breshears? Well, you know, for those students, the unduplicated. Mr. Breshears, next time you get a memo from the CTA, read it, … Read More

      Mr. Breshears, this is Tom Torlakson.

      How can I help you?

      You can stop flying off the handle and interpreting the law. Do you know who runs this department?

      Yes, sir!

      Didn’t you get the memo?

      What memo, sir?

      The one from the CTA?

      Ya, but I thought….

      You thought what, Mr. Breshears?

      I..I thought the supplemental and concentration grants were…

      Were what. Mr. Breshears?

      Well, you know, for those students, the unduplicated.

      Mr. Breshears, next time you get a memo from the CTA, read it, will you? It says right here:

      42238.02. …..not more than 24 pupils for each schoolsite in
      kindergarten and grades 1 to 3, inclusive, unless a collectively
      bargained alternative annual average class enrollment for each
      schoolsite in those grades is agreed to by the school district…

      That part about the collective bargaining… that was a major coup. Don’t screw it up.

    • Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

      Dear Mr. Torlakson- On March 26, 2014, I wrote a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, you- Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Education, Attorney General Kamala Harris, County Superintendent of Schools, Al Mijaries, CUSD Superintendent Jospeh Farley regarding the fact that those Districts that are funding solely by the base grant do not have the luxury of continuing to give across the Board salary increases EVERY year because our students across all demographics are … Read More

      Dear Mr. Torlakson-

      On March 26, 2014, I wrote a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, you- Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Education, Attorney General Kamala Harris, County Superintendent of Schools, Al Mijaries, CUSD Superintendent Jospeh Farley regarding the fact that those Districts that are funding solely by the base grant do not have the luxury of continuing to give across the Board salary increases EVERY year because our students across all demographics are starting to suffer academically from a lack of instructional time ie furlough days, increased class sizes and cuts to student programming and the never ending deferred maintenance. Its very hard to lear when we are in average class sizes of 36 – often class sizes above 40 (not enough desks because it would be above the fire code occupancy rating when most modern classrooms are designed for 24:1 BUT THAT IS OK BECAUSE WE WANT TO KNOW THAT CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ARE THE BEST PAIDD IN THE NATION- and I do not mind at all sacrificing my child’s future to make sure that our well respected teachers retire in luxury even if it means I have to mortage my home to both pay my taxes and pay for tutors SAT help and college tuition.

      • Dawn Urbanek 1 year ago1 year ago

        I might add that I sent each and every letter certified mail return receipt and not one single governmental agency responded with even so much as a form letter saying they would take my comments into consideration.

      • Tom 1 year ago1 year ago

        Dawn, You left out the fact that it takes a group of parents working hundreds of hours, non-compensated of course, to find creative ways to get parents to donate money to their school so that the kids can have more instructional help in all sorts of areas that would otherwise not be possible with State money! Meanwhile, first teachers, then classified (SEIU), then Administrators get across the board raises! LCFF will fail if this continues.

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Mr. Premack, you said: "..., LCFF is “no match for the powerful suction of the labor bargaining table.” " You've made some excellent points, though I would amend the above. The power of the bargaining table was recodified as part and parcel of LCFF, not in competition with its objectives as yo allude to. That is to say, the LCFF promise and sales pitch doesn't live up to the reality of the law itself, not only … Read More

          Mr. Premack, you said:

          “…, LCFF is “no match for the powerful suction of the labor bargaining table.” ”

          You’ve made some excellent points, though I would amend the above. The power of the bargaining table was recodified as part and parcel of LCFF, not in competition with its objectives as yo allude to. That is to say, the LCFF promise and sales pitch doesn’t live up to the reality of the law itself, not only not in this respect but also as pertains to its credulous accountability scheme.

          Other than that, as a moderate charter school advocate, I’d like to see for-profit charters out of business and greater accountability to the charter school community. My son’s charter school, while good in many respects, operates more or less like a private school. The community plays almost no role in any decisionmaking and salaries should be made public.

          Tom you said, “LCFF will fail if this continues.”

          By failure do you mean schools not measurably improving under LCFF? The point of LCFF was to get the State more or less out of the business of monitoring districts. What the districts do is now their own business for better or worse with what suffices for accountability under the laughable LCAP. The buck stops with the LCAP. In others words they “capped” accountability at the local level. You can sue the district but don’t go crying to the CDE. The only scenario I can imagine in which LCFF technically fails is if the court strikes it down on constitutional grounds – more or less what Dawn is espousing.

          • Eric Premack 1 year ago1 year ago

            Don: You wrote, "the community plays almost no role in any decisionmaking and salaries should be made public" at your local charter school. FWIW, my sense is that while "the community" may have a limited role, the role most communities play in their local school board is even less influential, especially in the many districts where a handful of donors (rich folk and/or labor unions) buy the elections. At least parents have the option … Read More

            Don:

            You wrote, “the community plays almost no role in any decisionmaking and salaries should be made public” at your local charter school.

            FWIW, my sense is that while “the community” may have a limited role, the role most communities play in their local school board is even less influential, especially in the many districts where a handful of donors (rich folk and/or labor unions) buy the elections. At least parents have the option to walk from a charter school.

            You can get salary data for highly-compensated charter school staff from publicly-posted tax returns. I think you’ll find the typical charter school administrator makes a lot less than their school district counterparts and are far more accountable for their performance.

            • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

              Understood, Mr. Premack, but parents are not invested in their districts in the same way they are invested in the schools their children attend. For this reason, the LCAP, too, fails to enjoin the community because few will participate at that abstract level. If the "like it or leave it" mentality you allude to prevails, such a school is not really responsive to the public it serves by the will of the taxpayers. … Read More

              Understood, Mr. Premack, but parents are not invested in their districts in the same way they are invested in the schools their children attend. For this reason, the LCAP, too, fails to enjoin the community because few will participate at that abstract level. If the “like it or leave it” mentality you allude to prevails, such a school is not really responsive to the public it serves by the will of the taxpayers. That’s fine at a private school, but not so at a public school. A charter school at arms length from its community doesn’t bode well for the school or industry in the long term. Insular governing bodies end up distanced from those they serve and eventually fall prey to lack of accountability.