John FensterwaldFollow @jfenster Email
John Fensterwald, staff writer, joined EdSource in 2012. Before that, he was editor and co-writer for the “Thoughts on Public Education (TOP-Ed)” website, a leading source of California education policy reporting and opinion, which he founded in 2009. For 11 years before then, John wrote editorials for the Mercury News in San Jose, with a focus on education. He worked as a reporter, news editor and opinion editor for three newspapers in New Hampshire for two decades before receiving a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1997 and heading West. His wife is a retired elementary school teacher, and his daughter attends the UC Davis School of Medicine.
All articles by John Fensterwald
Districts’ average payments to pension funds CalSTRS and CalPERS doubled to about $1,000 per student in 2017-18. But contributions varied among districts and will continue to rise for at least two more years.
March 21, 2019
If the Legislature agrees, voters in November 2020 will consider lowering the threshold for approval from two-thirds to 55 percent.
March 17, 2019
The task force will examine the financial impact of charter schools and report back to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
March 8, 2019
Supreme Court reaffirms pension reform law's elimination of one benefit but larger challenge to modify pensions of teachers and other public employees will await a future decision.
March 4, 2019
California's open meetings, public records and conflict-of-interest laws will soon apply to charter schools. Newsom called for the legislation.
February 28, 2019
Legislation by the chair of the Assembly Education Committee would ban appeals, cap charters at the current level and factor in charter schools’ fiscal impact on authorizing districts
February 26, 2019
Learning Policy Institute says schools need more funding, teachers need more support and the public needs more help understanding where the money goes.
February 21, 2019
Convinced that stigmatizing “bad schools” and dictating improvements didn't work, state officials are counting on district-led solutions to low achievement.
February 6, 2019
Gun violence in schools and college affordability highest priorities for California voters, poll finds
Voters polled view early childhood programs as important but don't rank them as top priorities and are lukewarm about spending more for them.
February 4, 2019
L.A. Unified's school board and UTLA have ratified a contract, but L.A. County Superintendent Debra Duardo is skeptical the district can pay for its promises, and the Legislature may not agree to a charter school moratorium.
January 30, 2019
The California Teachers Association and other public employee unions have turned to dues contracts to sustain membership revenues that the U.S. Supreme Court put jeopardy in the Janus decision. Now there's a new round of lawsuits.
January 29, 2019
Gov. Newsom proposes to chip away at mountain of pension liability and ease school districts' burden
The state will absorb $700 million of school districts' additional payments to CalSTRS for the final two years of the higher payments required to restore the pension fund's financial health.
January 27, 2019
School districts are required to maintain a minimum level of reserves, or county offices of education will intervene.
January 17, 2019
Windfall for California K-12 schools, more spending from early to higher ed in Newsom's first budget
Newsom would increase spending for education from early to higher ed, including a path to full-day preschool for every low-income child and full-day kindergarten for all 5-year olds. A surprise for K-12 districts — pension-cost relief — would free up money to spend as they want.
January 10, 2019
The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to identify and improve student achievement in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. Districts with those schools will explain how in a new section of their Local Control and Accountability Plans.