California education news: What’s the latest?
Friday, March 24, 2023, 4:20 pm
Link copied.El Camino College trustee Kenneth Brown dies
Kenneth Brown, the president of El Camino College’s board of trustees, died Thursday.
“The sudden loss of our friend and colleague has sent shockwaves throughout our campus community, and no doubt throughout the many networks and circles that Trustee Brown traveled through,” the college said in a statement. “He was tirelessly dedicated to the mission of providing quality educational opportunities to students. He will be dearly missed.”
Brown has served on the board at El Camino, which is near Torrance in Los Angeles County’s South Bay, since 2010. Since 2016 he was also a member of the board for the California Community College Trustees, including a stint as president from 2021-22. He was also an adjunct professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he taught physics and math courses.
“He inspired those who knew him to think critically about solutions and act definitively to improve opportunities. He was a truly amazing man who spoke from the heart and gave from the depths of his soul. No one knew that more than his family, including his wife Karla and his two sons,” said Larry Galizio, president of the Community College League of California, in a statement.
Daisy Gonzales, the interim chancellor of California’s community college system, said in a statement that Brown “was a champion for students in everything he did” and that his “legacy and commitment will empower generations of leaders to come.”
Friday, March 24, 2023, 11:00 am
Link copied.Oakland teachers on strike over reduced staffing and low pay
Hundreds of Oakland teachers joined a picket line Friday morning, striking in response to reduced staffing and low teacher pay. The one-day strike was not authorized by the teachers’ union, according to reporting by the S.F. Chronicle.
The middle and high school teachers are asking for a 23% raise in wages. By contrast, the Oakland Unified School District proposed an 11% raise for teachers and 8% for other staff.
The Oakland teachers are striking just as Los Angeles Unified teachers return to their classrooms after a three-day strike by the district’s lowest-paid workers brought classes to a halt for 420,000 L.A. Unified students.
—Betty Márquez Rosales
Friday, March 24, 2023, 10:45 am
Link copied.Improved screenings for Black and Latino children led to higher autism rates
More Black and Latino children are being diagnosed with autism, the result of improved screening and awareness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Historically, white children have been more likely to be diagnosed with autism — 30% more likely than Black children and twice more likely than Latino children.
Among all children, the diagnosis rates of autism were 1 in 36 in 2020, up from 1 in 44 in 2018, the L.A. Times reported.
Despite the increase, it’s unclear if access to autism services are more widely available for all. A recent study involving over 530,000 children with autism in the U.S. found that those from racial and ethnic groups face greater disparity in access autism services.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 10:35 am
Link copied.Student stabbed at South El Monte High School
A student at South El Monte High School in Los Angeles County allegedly stabbed another student during an argument on Wednesday, authorities said, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
The victim was, who suffered three stab wounds, was initially treated by an on-campus nurse. The other student had a cut on his ear, the newspaper reported.
It is unclear what caused the argument. The school went on lockdown, and then classes were let out early, according to the Tribune.
It was the second report of an alleged attack with a knife at a California high school this month. A student died after a stabbing at a high school in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, on March 1.—Thomas Peele
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 10:00 am
Link copied.Stanford law suspends associate dean in flap over federal judge’s speech
Stanford has suspended the associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at its law school after he participated in a student-led disruption of a speech by a conservative federal appellate judge at the university earlier this month, Reuters reported.
The students who protested 5th U.S. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan will not be disciplined, Reuters reported. Duncan was appointed to the court by then-President Donald Trump in 2018.
The length of the suspension of Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach was not disclosed. Steinbach, who addressed Duncan and students during the event, said the judge’s presence was painful for some students.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Duncan defended calling the students “appalling idiots,” “bullies” and “hypocrites.” Two other Trump appointees, Judges James Ho of the 5th Circuit and Elizabeth Branch of the 11th Circuit, wrote last week in the National Review that law schools should discipline and punish students who participate in “disruptive tactics.”
In a 10-page letter obtained by Reuters, law school Dean Jenny Martinez wrote that Stanford Law administrators had not enforced the school’s speech policy, which prohibits shutting down speakers through heckling.—Thomas Peele
Wednesday, March 22, 2023, 10:42 am
Link copied.Sacramento district raises transgender pride flag
Sacramento City Unified School District held an event this week to raise the transgender pride flag over its headquarters in advance of the Trans Day of Visibility on March 31.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the event was held to show support for transgender students, especially during a time when schools have become the focus of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills across the country.
“We are all here today in solitary and understanding that every student deserves to be seen, every student deserves to be supported, and that every student deserves to be loved,” said school board President Chinua Rodes. “This is especially important for students who are historically most vulnerable.”—Emma Gallegos
Wednesday, March 22, 2023, 10:35 am
Link copied.Schools face crossing guard shortage
Schools across the country are facing a shortage of crossing guards.
San Jose Spotlight reports that 30% of its crossing guard positions still remain unfilled. It has 80 out of 262 positions vacant. That has broad ramifications for the safety of children on their way to school.
“Our crossing guards are essentially the eyes and the ears of this department because they’re out there on a regular basis,” Michelle Barte, the program manager for San Jose Police Department’s School Safety and Education Unit, told the Spotlight. “They get to know their children, the parents, the guardians. They typically see who belongs there and who doesn’t, so they’re also tasked with looking out for the greater safety of the children.”
Oakland’s Department of Transportation has faced trouble filling crossing guard positions, and so has Los Altos and East Bay schools.
Nationwide schools have faced a crossing guard shortage that parallels the broader labor shortage. Crossing guards typically work an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. That makes it perfect for someone retired or a stay-at-home parent looking for extra income, but it is not a job that others with a part-time position can easily take on, notes The Los Altos Crier.—Emma Gallegos
Tuesday, March 21, 2023, 10:26 am
Link copied.Clovis Unified names new superintendent
The Clovis Unified School District has named Corrine Folmer as its next superintendent, the district announced Monday, according to The Fresno Bee.
The Fresno County district’s school board voted unanimously to appoint Folmer, who is currently associate superintendent for the district. She starts in her new role on July 1, according to the Bee.
“There is so much emotion,” she said Monday. “I am humbled and honored to serve as superintendent.”
Folmer graduated from Clovis Unified and has spent 20 years working in the district, having served as a teacher, instructional specialist, learning director, principal and an assistant superintendent.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023, 10:25 am
Link copied.Jeff Freitas re-elected as president of California Federation of Teachers
Jeff Freitas has been re-elected as president of the California Federation of Teachers, the teachers union announced.
Delegates for the state’s second-largest teachers union re-elected Freitas, who has been president for the past four years, to a third two-year term.
“As public education in the U.S. faces unprecedented attacks, it is more important than ever for our educators and classified professionals to come together, united in our commitment to our students and our communities,” Freitas said in a statement, adding that his top priority will be to “address the education staffing crisis.”
CFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and represents teachers and classified staff at public and private schools and colleges in California.—Michael Burke
Monday, March 20, 2023, 5:06 pm
Link copied.Many students choose work, caring for dependents over community college, survey finds
Students who have dropped out of California’s community colleges did so because they needed to prioritize work, couldn’t afford college or had to take care of dependent family members, among other reasons, according to a survey.
The RP Group, which conducts research for California’s system of 116 community colleges, surveyed about 76,000 prospective and former students in the summer and fall of last year. The survey’s preliminary findings were shared with the system’s board of governors last fall and, without many changes, a final version of the survey was presented to the board Monday.
Among former students, 33% of them said their need to prioritize working was a major barrier preventing them from returning to a community college. Another 29% said they couldn’t afford college, while 22% said they had dependents to care for and 18% said they needed to prioritize their mental health.
Prospective students cited similar reasons affecting their decisions to not yet enroll at a community college. Nearly one-third of them said they can’t afford college, while 29% said they were prioritizing work and 18% said they had to care for dependents. Another 29% said they were considering a college or university outside of California’s community colleges.
California’s community college system, which includes 116 colleges across 73 local districts, suffered dramatic enrollment declines during the pandemic, dropping by about 18%. As of last fall, enrollment has begun to stabilize, however, with most colleges reporting that their declines had leveled off. Some even saw their enrollment increase in fall 2022.—Michael Burke
Monday, March 20, 2023, 1:44 pm
Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified responds to reports of racism in schools
West Contra Costa Unified plans to hold town hall listening sessions for students and adults and develop anti-racist staff training and policies in response to students sharing instances of racism on campus at recent school board meetings.
The Black student unions at the district’s high schools have reached out to district officials with reports of anti-Black racism and prejudice felt by students throughout the district. At a school board meeting on March 15, Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst said he wanted to acknowledge the students’ experiences and share what the district is doing about it.
Anti-racist leadership development specialist Rachelle Rogers-Ard will be working with the district to host listening sessions for students and adults, Hurst said. Rogers-Ard will gather data from those listening sessions and provide an analysis to the district and board on racism, prejudice and discrimination at West Contra Costa Unified schools, as well as recommendations for “equity-based work,” Hurst said.
Rachelle Rogers-Ard will also help the district develop its equity statement and anti-racist stance, Hurst said, and staff training around those policies.
“We want everyone who comes to our district to understand what we mean by equity,” Hurst said.
School board member Jamela Smith-Folds said this work is crucial tin efforts to reduce the number of Black students and teachers who leave the district every year.
“We lost so many Black teachers in this district every year because they don’t feel supported; we lose so many Black students in this district every year because they don’t feel seen, heard or supported,” Smith-Folds said. “…We are an anti-racist district, and if you can’t get in line with that, this is not the place for you to work or send your children or anything else. We need to make a statement of who we are and put actions behind who we are.”—Ali Tadayon
Monday, March 20, 2023, 9:50 am
Link copied.Cloverdale Unified picks new superintendent
Cloverdale Unified in northern Sonoma County has hired Glen Senestraro to serve as its new superintendent, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported.
Senestraro,currently the superintendent of Fortuna Union High School District in Humboldt County, will begin work on July 1. He’ll oversee the district’s four schools: Cloverdale High, Washington School, Jefferson Elementary and Jefferson Preschool.
Senestraro replaces interim superintendent Steve Jorgensen, who is retiring after just over a year in the position. Jorgensen replaced Betha MacClain, who resigned.
The district’s board of directors chose Senestraro over 23 other candidates to lead the 1,312-student district. He previously has served as a principal, assistant principal, athletic director and high school math teacher.—Carolyn Jones
Monday, March 20, 2023, 9:50 am
Link copied.Labor board upholds L.A. Unified union’s right to strike – for now
The state Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Sunday denied Los Angeles Unified’s request to stop a planned three-day strike by its service employees’ union, although the district said the board would further review the matter today, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The strike, scheduled to begin Tuesday, is being organized by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union. The union represents almost 30,000 custodians, special education aides and other workers. The teachers union has encouraged its 30,000 members to participate in the strike, as well.
In its request to the labor board, the district claimed that the union gave a false reason for striking when it said it was protesting unfair labor practices. The district contends that the union is using the strike as a bargaining tool for higher salaries.
Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias said the board’s decision “confirms that workers have a right to protest over the threats and harassment waged against them by the school district,” the Times reported. “They will continue to move forward with plans to strike this week. Their voices will not be silenced.”
The district said the issue remains unresolved.
“The PERB Board has directed their Office of General Counsel to expedite the processing of the district’s underlying unfair practice charge against SEIU Local 99, which alleged that SEIU and its members are engaging in an unlawful 3-day strike,” district officials said. “Contrary to SEIU’s assertions, the PERB OGC has not made a decision on Los Angeles Unified’s unfair practice charge regarding the alleged illegality of SEIU’s strike, and the District expects a decision from the PERB OGC as soon as Monday morning given the expedited processing direction from the PERB Board.”—Carolyn Jones
Friday, March 17, 2023, 11:14 am
Link copied.Hail, Furman, a tiny college that excels on and off the basketball court
Furman University became the first-day darlings of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament when the 15th-seeded Paladins beat No.2 University of Virginia on a last-second shot in the Southern Regional’s first round.
But, by another measure, academic performance, not only was the 67-65 score not a surprise, it was predictable. They’re the favorite to make and win the Final Four.
Each year since 2006, Inside Higher Ed has done its own March Madness brackets, based all 48 teams’ performance on the NCAA’s own Academic Progress Rate. It calculates a team’s academic success by measuring every college athlete receiving an academic scholarship using a point system that credits staying in school and being academically eligible. (Inside Higher Ed calls it an imperfect metric since it excludes athletes who leave in good academic standing, so universities whose players tend to turn pro early still do well.)
In head-to-head games, Inside Higher Ed uses a school’s six-year graduation rate for athletes to determine the winner.
Furman is a 2,500-student private school in Greenville, South Carolina, founded 197 years ago and named after Baptist leader Richard Furman. The win on Thursday was the school’s first in the tournament in 45 years for the Paladins, named after a knight in the court of King Charlemagne (not after the lead role in the 1950s TV Western “Have Gun Will Travel”).
Las Vegas oddsmakers give Furman a 0.2% chance of winning the tournament. But, with a perfect 1,000 point rating on the Academic Progress Rate, it will go on to win the next four games and then face — and beat — Northwestern in the final game in Houston on April 3 using Inside Higher Ed’s bracketology. In actual play, the Northwestern Wildcats, also defying odds, beat Boise State on Thursday in the first round of regional play in Sacramento.
The Paladins, in fact, were bounced from the NCAA tournament on Monday as they lost 75-52 against San Diego State.—John Fensterwald
Friday, March 17, 2023, 10:48 am
Link copied.Proposed bill would establish baseline funding for schools inside juvenile detention facilities
A proposed bill seeks to establish baseline funding for juvenile hall schools and county community schools plus additional funding between $150,000 and $300,000, depending on the type of school. Currently, such schools receive funding based on average daily attendance. Supporters of the bill say this is too unstable given the declining numbers of youth in detention across the state plus the transitory nature of the juvenile court system.
AB 906, introduced by Mike Gipson, D-Carson, would revise the way average daily attendance is calculated. While daily average numbers of youth in juvenile facilities differs across counties, it is not uncommon for a student to be detained for a few days or weeks, leading to constant changes in the school attendance numbers for those facilities.
The additional funding proposed in the bill would be allocated for high-specialized teachers, para-educators, counselors, and other specialized school staff, according to reporting by the Sacramento Bee. If passed, the changes would be applicable beginning in the 2023-24 fiscal year.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Friday, March 17, 2023, 10:47 am
Link copied.San Mateo County school board sues social media giants
The superintendent and school board in San Mateo County this week filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging “the current youth mental health crisis has been made worse by the social media industry’s deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning to manipulate a youth audience with the goal of keeping children and teens engaged with their products in harmful ways.”
The companies include YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok, along with the companies that own them. The Bay Area lawsuit is similar to one filed in Seattle this year.
Along with being deemed a public nuisance, which would enable the court to order an end to the behaviors the lawsuit is alleging, the suit also seeks for the defendants to pay into a public education fund.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Thursday, March 16, 2023, 10:56 am
Link copied.English learners and students with disabilities under-identified as gifted
English learners and students with disabilities are under-identified as gifted and talented, but states that have specific policies requiring schools to offer services enroll these students at much higher rates.
That’s according to a new study conducted by NWEA, a research and educational services organization, using data from the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection and the Stanford Education Data Archive.
Researchers found that English learners and students with disabilities are identified as gifted and talented at rates equal to one-eighth to one-sixth of their representation in the overall student population.
However, they also found that in states where schools were required to have formal plans for gifted services, they were 10 percentage points more likely to offer services to English learners and students with disabilities. When states conducted audits to make sure schools were offering services, schools were 23 percentage points more likely to offer gifted services to these students.
“One of the clearest takeaways from examining these data is the correlation between state policies and the more-equitable identification of gifted and talented students,” said Scott Peters, senior research scientist at NWEA, in a news release.
The researchers also found that the top 5% of schools with the highest equity of enrollment of English learners and students with disabilities identified as gifted were smaller, had more students from low-income families and had lower overall test scores.—Zaidee Stavely
Thursday, March 16, 2023, 10:20 am
Link copied.Piedmont Unified names new superintendent
Jennifer Hawn will be the new superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District in Alameda County, the East Bay Times reported.
Hawn has served in public education as an administrator for the Beverly Hills Unified School District and assistant superintendent of human resources with the Whittier City School District. She’s also been an instructor for Pepperdine University, the newspaper reported. She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California.
“Dr. Hawn is an exceptional, well-rounded leader, with significant experience in the classroom as well as district operations,” said PUSD school board President Veronica Anderson Thigpen. “The board was impressed by Jennifer’s in-depth knowledge about our district and by her passion for our new vision, mission and values,” the Times reported. The board received 22 applicants for the position, selected six candidates for first-round interviews, and brought back three for a second round.
Hawn last worked at DaVinci Schools, a charter school in El Segundo, as a deputy superintendent there.—Thomas Peele
Thursday, March 16, 2023, 10:14 am
Link copied.Prosecutors claim two Stanford rape allegations were false, charge employee with perjury
Months after Stanford students protested and marched for more security and protection after a 25-year-old university employee said she was twice raped on campus, prosecutors are alleging she fabricated the claims and have charged her with perjury, The Associated Press reported.
Jennifer Ann Gries, of Santa Clara, allegedly first reported a false sexual attack in August when she told a nurse at Valley Medical Center in San Jose that a man grabbed her while she was at a campus parking lot, dragged her to a restroom and sexually assaulted her, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office said. She allegedly made a similar claim at Stanford Hospital in October.
The rape reports led Stanford police to issue campuswide electronic alerts, which prompted widespread fear and a protest in October by hundreds of students who marched to demand university officials offer more protection.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the alleged false rape reports “a rare and deeply destructive crime” and said he felt for those who are falsely accused, for the students who had to look over their shoulders and for the ”legitimate sexual assault victims who wonder if they will be believed,” AP reported.
Gries was charged with two felony counts of perjury and two misdemeanor counts of making false crime reports to nurses at the two hospitals, prosecutors said. The nurses were mandatory reporters who called the police. Gries later allegedly admitted the claims were false.
In a statement, Stanford said Gries was placed on a leave of absence and the university “will be reviewing her employment.” Stanford’s website identifies her as a Housing Service Center supervisor.—Thomas Peele
Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 6:59 pm
Link copied.LAUSD unions: Three-day SEIU-led strike could begin next week
Union leaders in Los Angeles Unified School District announced that they have scheduled a three-day strike to begin on Tuesday.
The announcement, reported by the Los Angeles Times, was made Wednesday evening during a joint rally between the LAUSD’s two largest employee unions. Thousands wearing red and purple union colors turned out at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Times.
The strike would be led by Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, whose 30,000 members include bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers. The union representing teachers, United Teachers Los Angeles, has urged its members to walk out in solidarity with those employees. Together, the two unions represent about 65,000 workers in the district.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said schools would temporarily close if workers strike. He said district negotiators are prepared to meet around the clock to avert this scenario. He sent an automated phone message to parents asking them to begin discussions with employers and child care providers now.
“I have two, three, four chairs around the table,” Carvalho said at a news conference Wednesday morning, “and I commit myself 24/7, day and night, to find a solution that will avoid, will avert a strike that will avoid keeping kids home, will avoid kids from going hungry in our community without access to the food they get in school.”
SEIU members are seeking a 30% wage increase, a $2 per hour raise, more hours, health insurance and a stop to private contractors, LAist reports. The union says its members average $25,000 a year.
SEIU is “simply refusing to negotiate” despite a counteroffer from the district, Carvalho said, in a statement Wednesday evening.
“With a historic offer on the table that was created in direct response to SEIU’s demands, and with additional resources still to be negotiated, it is deeply surprising and disappointing that there is an unwillingness to do so,” he said.
Local 99 workers would be striking to protest what they allege are illegal actions by LAUSD during bargaining. Members who engaged in last month’s strike vote were subjected to “threats, interrogation and surveillance,” the union said in a statement. LAUSD officials have denied wrongdoing.
A three-day strike would mark the largest labor action in the district since the teachers’ strike in 2019, the Los Angeles Times notes.—Emma Gallegos
Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 10:47 am
Link copied.California bill would require school employees to notify parents if child identifies as transgender
A new California bill would require teachers, counselors and other school employees to notify a parent that their child is publicly identifying as transgender within three days from the date they become aware.
The bill, AB-1314, would require school employees to notify parents in writing when a student uses sex-segregated school programs, such as joining an athletic team or using bathroom facilities that do not align with the sex in their official records. California law currently protects students’ privacy on this matter.
The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Bill Essayli, R-Riverside, and Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City. Essayli told The Sacramento Bee that he was approached with the idea for the bill by the conservative Fresno-based California Family Council.
Essayli told The Bee that his concern was for the well-being of the students. He cited research showing that parental support is key to preventing depression in LGBTQ youth.
A survey from The Trevor Project found that just 32% of transgender and nonbinary students consider their home a gender-affirming place. School is a more welcoming place: 51% of transgender and nonbinary students found school gender-affirming.
Essayli acknowledged that home isn’t always welcoming for transgender students, but he said teachers are mandated reporters who should report abuse.
“That can’t be the default position, that we’re going to keep parents in the dark because they might abuse their kids,” he told The Bee.
The bill has been condemned by LGBTQ advocacy groups and lawmakers, including Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco.
“A DeSantis-style bill was just introduced in CA to require teachers/counselors to inform parents if a kid id’s as a gender not on birth certificate,” he tweeted. “Even if the kid isn’t ready to come out to their parents. Even if ratting the kid out risks violence at home. Nope, not in CA.”
Essayli held a newss conference outside Jurupa Valley High School on Monday where teacher Jessica Tapia said she was fired for refusing to withhold information about a student’s identity from parents, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.—Emma Gallegos
Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 9:59 am
Link copied.Fresno State hosts statewide summit on the future of agriculture
Fresno State will be hosting a one-day summit on the future of agriculture as California moves toward reaching net-neutral greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
The summit, which will include panels hosted by UC Merced, Cal State Bakersfield, Stanislaus State and Fresno State, will be happening at Fresno State’s campus on March 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will be presented both in person and virtually.
The topics will include how growers can conserve water and how the climate crisis is impacting the supply chain in agriculture.
California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross will provide the keynote address. Jennifer Pett-Ridge, a soil scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will provide an overview of new technologies designed to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.—Emma Gallegos
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 5:15 pm
Link copied.CSU Trustees and Cal State San Bernardino President face equal pay lawsuit
A lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges administrators at CSU San Bernardino violated the state’s Equal Pay Act, discriminated against and harassed some women employees of the campus.
Former female administrators on the San Bernardino campus filed the lawsuit on national Equal Pay Day against CSUSB President Tomas Morales, Jake Zhu, a campus dean, and the CSU Board of Trustees.
According to the lawsuit, Clare Weber, a former vice provost on the campus, complained to Zhu and Morales that she and other women vice provosts were paid less than their male counterparts. Weber learned she was also one of the lowest paid despite having many assignments.
Anissa Rogers, a former associate dean on the Palm Desert campus, also complained to Zhu of sexual harassment by male employees and requested that CSU “do better to disrupt sexism,” according to the lawsuit. However, neither woman had their concerns addressed and they allege that leadership at the campus and within the chancellor’s office forced women to accept working conditions, resign or retire.
Both women are represented by Courtney Abrams, PC, and Helmer Freidman, LLP law firms.—Ashley A. Smith
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 12:12 pm
Link copied.Lawmakers resist Newsom proposal to delay student housing funds
State lawmakers in California are at odds with Gov. Gavin Newsom over his plan to delay funding for student housing projects at colleges and universities across the state.
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who chairs the budget subcommittee focused on education finance, said during a hearing on Tuesday that funding those campus housing projects is a priority for the Legislature and that lawmakers don’t intend to delay the spending.
In his January budget proposal for 2023-24, Newsom proposed delaying $250 million of anticipated funding that would support the construction of affordable housing projects across California’s public higher education systems. He also suggested delaying the creation of a statewide loan program that would provide $1.8 billion to the colleges in the form of interest-free loans to support housing projects.
“But this is not an area that we’re going to focus on cutting,” said McCarty. “We will look for other alternatives through other places in the budget. This is such a priority for the Senate and the Assembly.”
Newsom proposed the delays to help deal with the state’s projected $22.5 billion deficit.
The issue promises to be a difficult one as the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Democratic governor hash out next year’s state spending plan over the next three months.—Michael Burke
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 10:34 am
Link copied.Calbright College increases enrollment and completion numbers
Calbright College, the state’s online community college, announced Tuesday that its enrollment has grown to 2,000 students — a milestone for the college, which opened in 2019.
As of Monday, enrollment was 2,077 students.
“Calbright’s continued growth highlights the importance of putting students at the center of our design,” said Ajita Talwalker Menon, president of the college. “Our learners are advancing their studies and skills while managing a schedule that includes working, raising a famil, and navigating an ongoing global pandemic and rapidly evolving labor market.”
Calbright is a free, self-paced alternative to traditional colleges and is intended to serve adults between 25 and 34 who lack college degrees or need additional skills to qualify for higher-paying jobs. The college uses a competency-based education model that assesses students based on their skills and not the amount of time they spending a class.
The online college also announced that it has more than doubled the number of certificates awarded in 2022, from 43 in 2021 to 110 last year. In January, the college awarded its 200th certificate. As of Monday, more than 226 certificates had been awarded to students.—Ashley A. Smith
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 9:01 am
Link copied.Oceanside district votes to close elementary school
Trustees at the Oceanside Unified School District voted Tuesday to close one of the district’s elementary schools, Reynolds Elementary, because of safety concerns, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
According to The Union-Tribune, testing showed that soil beneath the campus could liquefy during an earthquake and make the foundations of the school’s buildings unsound.
“It’s about the safety of our students,” said Raquel Alvarez, president of the school board. “There’s never going to be a perfect time.”
Many parents spoke against the closure during the meeting, but trustees voted 3-1 to close the school at the end of the current school year, with one trustee abstaining.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 9:01 am
Link copied.LAUSD superintendent tells families to prepare for school closures from worker strike
Los Angeles Unified schools will likely close temporarily if union workers in the district go through with a three-day strike, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in an email to families, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It’s not yet clear what days the potential strike would be, but that will be announced Wednesday at a rally in downtown Los Angeles. The strike would be led by Local 99 of Service Employees International, whose 30,000 workers include bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers. The union representing teachers in the district, United Teachers Los Angeles, has also urged its members to walk out in solidarity with those employees, the Times reported.
“If this strike does occur, despite our best efforts to avoid it, due to the anticipated lack of both teachers and school staff, it is likely we would have to close schools — without virtual education — until the strike ends,” Carvalho said in the email, according to the Times. “We would simply have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment where teaching can take place. We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to begin discussions with your employer, child care providers and others now.”
Local 99 workers would be striking in protest of what they allege are illegal actions by LAUSD during bargaining, the Times reported. Unlike an indefinite strike, this strike would likely be for a fixed amount of time, three days. L.A. Unified officials have denied wrongdoing.—Michael Burke
Monday, March 13, 2023, 10:53 am
Link copied.Sixty school districts hiring at Northern California job fair
Dozens of school districts from throughout Northern California will be represented at a Pre-K-12 employment fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in Sacramento.
Sixty local education agencies are recruiting for a wide range of positions, including teachers, language, speech and hearing therapists, mental health clinicians, and paraeducators, as well as classified positions, including office, technical, facilities, and food service staff.
The event is co-hosted by the California Center on Teaching Careers, the Tulare County Office of Education and the Sacramento County Office of Education.
The in-person event will be at the Sacramento County Office of Education, 10474 Mather Blvd. in Sacramento.
Participants can also participate virtually.
For more information and to register, go here.—Diana Lambert
Monday, March 13, 2023, 9:53 am
Link copied.People’s Forum on Community Schools in Sacramento Wednesday
Teachers and parents from four Sacramento-area schools and educational leaders from San Diego Unified will hold a People’s Forum on Community Schools on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The state has made $4.1 billion available to school districts to establish community schools through the California Community Schools Partnership Program.
Community schools take an integrated approach to students’ academic, health and social-emotional needs by making connections with an array of government and community services and by building trusting relationships with students and families.
Forum organizers want school district leaders to use shared-governance models when establishing community schools. Shared governance ensures that educators, students and their families sit at the same table as school administrators to make decisions about their neighborhood schools, according to a news release from the California Teachers Association.
Parents and educators representing Folsom-Cordova, Natomas, Sacramento City and Twin Rivers unified schools districts as well as educational leaders from San Diego Unified School District will be in attendance at the forum.
Friday, March 10, 2023, 12:04 pm
Link copied.Tensions high in San Rafael City Schools contract talks
A contract dispute between San Rafael City Schools and its elementary teachers union is moving to a state-assisted fact-finding process following the failure of mediated talks, the Marin Independent Journal reported.
At the same time, the San Rafael Teachers Association and the district disagree on whether a new contract offer proposed by the district last week — just after more than 20 hours of mediation ended — was appropriate.
Molly O’Donoghue, the union vice president, said the district’s latest offer was “illegal, improper and in bad faith” because of its timing. “It was put forth during the impasse process, between mediation and fact-finding,” she said.
She declined to comment on the details of the district’s proposal, telling the Independent Journal the union is “maintaining confidentiality.”
District Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said its latest offer was a 13% pay increase over two years — 10% for the current school year and 3% in 2023-24. That was up from the previous district proposal for a 4.7% increase in the current school year, retroactive to July 1.
The union has sought a 14% pay hike in the current year, retroactive to July 1.—Thomas Peele
Friday, March 10, 2023, 11:51 am
Link copied.San Francisco Unified failed to file wage reports with state; employees could face tax problems
Yet another major payroll problem has hit the San Francisco Unified School District.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported late Wednesday that the district failed to file three quarterly wage reports to the state in 2022, an omission that could delay tax returns and refunds to teachers and other district employees. Thousands of people could be affected.
In a statement, SFUSD Superintendent Matt Wayne announced that while the district collected taxes and paid them to the state on schedule, the payments did not differentiate the amount of taxes paid by each employee.
It is not yet known if this mistake is related to the district’s use of EMPowerSF, a payroll deduction software system that has been the subject of major complaints from the teachers union, the Chronicle reported.
“We are deeply sorry for the stress and concern this has caused our staff and their families,” Wayne said in a statement. “SFUSD is undertaking accountability measures to ensure this does not happen again. We are urgently working to rectify this error and the possible cascading impacts for employees.”
It was not clear how many of the 9,000 district employees were affected by the incorrect filing, but all employees were notified Tuesday that their tax returns will be complicated by the mistake. The district is working with the California Franchise Tax Board on the matter.—EdSource staff
Friday, March 10, 2023, 10:12 am
Link copied.New bill would give homeless high school seniors $1,000 a month
Amid a spike in homelessness, California lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would grant $1,000 a month of guaranteed income to homeless high school seniors.
Senate Bill 333, introduced by state Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, would provide the funds through a guaranteed income pilot program called Success, Opportunity, & Academic Resilience.
There are an estimated 270,000 homeless youths across the state — about 15,000 of whom are high school seniors, according to a 2020 report out of the University of California, Los Angeles. Under this proposal, students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence would receive five monthly installments of $1,000 from April to August 2024.
“We must stop graduating 15,000 high school students into homelessness each year,” Cortese said in a news release. “These payments, made with no strings attached, enable students to cover basic needs so they may take crucial steps toward college or career.”
One recent survey found that more than 90% of unhoused youth respondents aspired to a career goal that required further education, but only 16% believed they would be able to attend or graduate college within the next five years.
The program is intended only for the class of 2024, according to the bill, but could be extended. For the record, SB 333 is a reintroduction of SB 1341 (2022), which would also have provided direct cash assistance to students.—Karen D'Souza
Thursday, March 9, 2023, 10:43 am
Link copied.Biden’s budget plan aims to boost childcare funding by billions
President Biden’s 2024 budget plan aims to boost childcare and early childhood education funding by billions of dollars, as Reuters reported.
The proposal, which Biden will deliver to Congress today, revisits key items from the president’s 2023 budget proposal that were later removed during negotiations with Congress. However, prospects may well be even slimmer this year, as Reuters noted, given the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
The White House argues that lack of access to childcare is a key factor depressing women’s participation in the workforce, citing a forecast that the country’s economic output could drop by $290 billion a year beginning in 2030 if the childcare crisis persists.
Administration officials said Biden would continue to push for more spending on the nation’s “care economy,” but could also take executive action to forward his agenda, such as last week’s announcement that microchip firms seeking funds from a $52 billion U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research program have to include plans for childcare.
Biden’s 2024 proposal includes $22.1 billion for existing early care and education programs, up 10.5% from the 2023 level, including $9 billion for federal block grants. This higher level of funding, roughly $400 billion over 10 years, would increase childcare options for 16 million more young children while reducing costs for parents, according to the White House. Biden’s budget is expected to include free preschool for all 4-year-olds as well as an expanded child tax credit.—Karen D'Souza
Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:43 am
Link copied.Mother alleges black child called “a slave” at Orange County school
An Orange County school district is investigating allegations that an elementary school student allegedly called a Black classmate a “slave,” NBC Los Angeles reported.
Jasmine Harris, the mother of the child to whom the comment was allegedly made, told the station that a classmate of her 10-year-old daughter called her a “slave” last week at Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana.
“Randomly the little boy had came up to her — swinging a jump rope, trying to hit her with a jump rope, telling her, ‘get back to work you slave,”’ Harris told the station. The race of the other child involved in the incident was not immediately clear.
Harris has pulled her daughter from the school and told the station she considers the incident a hate crime.
Santa Ana Unified School District officials said in a statement that they have “initiated a formal independent investigation” of the alleged incident.—Thomas Peele
Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:42 am
Link copied.LAUSD workers union moves closer to striking
An important Los Angeles Unified workers union is one step closer to a possibly disruptive strike. SEIU Local 99, which represents 30,000 custodians, cafeteria workers, special education assistants and other essential employees, gave LAUSD a 10-day notice on Tuesday to end its extended contract with the district, including its no strike provision.
SEIU Local 99 is pushing for increased wages, more staffing and expanded health care benefits as it negotiates with the district following the expiration of its last contract in 2020. That contract had been extended until now.
Union members took a strike vote in February, with 96% in favor of giving the bargaining team the power to declare a strike if the union and the district do not reach an agreement through the impasse process.
“Workers are fed-up with living on poverty wages — and having their jobs threatened for demanding equitable pay,” SEIU Local 99 executive director Max Arias said. “Workers are fed-up with the short staffing at LAUSD – and being harassed for speaking up.”
In a press release, LAUSD shared its frustration with the union’s decision to move closer to a strike, saying it “would cause a significant disruption to instruction, and would adversely impact our entire system.”
The district said its offerings included a 15% wage increase over three years, retroactive to July 2021. The district is also offering to bring its minimum wage to more than $20 an hour and to secure benefits for employees who work four or more hours a day, according to the district statement.
SEIU Local 99 is pushing for a 30% wage increase and an hourly increase of $2.—Kate Sequeira
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 10:59 am
Link copied.Stockton Unified board approves layoffs that includes five directors
Last night the board of Stockton Unified approved layoffs for 19 full-time positions that include five directors.
This comes on the heels of an audit revealing potential fraud and other illegal fiscal practices, and just a week after the board terminated the contract for the district’s emeritus contract of Superintendent John Ramirez Jr.
The Stockton Record reports that some of the positions cut include the assistant superintendent of student support services, the director for the family resource center, maintenance and operations, educational services, community relations and business development, and technology. The layoffs will be effective July 1.
These positions were funded through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), one-time federal funds doled out due to COVID-19.
Two district directors and an assistant superintendent included in the positions are already on leave, though the district declined to say why. One of those is Director of Family Resource Center Motecuzoma Sanchez, the founder of the website 209 Times.—Emma Gallegos
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 10:00 am
Link copied.LAUSD rolls out new safety apps for students and staff
LAUSD rolled out new apps aimed at streamlining communication and improving safety on campus, during a board meeting Tuesday night.
The Los Angeles Times describes one app as being aimed at school employees in emergencies and the other as being aimed at students, staff, parents and other community members for non-emergency safety issues anonymously.
The first app functions as a sort of internal 9-1-1. It allows school employees to report an active assailant in progress by holding a button for three seconds. The alert automatically detects the location of the user, prompting an alert that goes to the top of the queue for school police. It allows users to text about their situation.
Students and others who want to report an active emergency are still urged to call 9-1-1.
The second app, Los Angeles Schools Anonymous Reporting or LASAR, is aimed at non-emergency situations, such as vaping in the bathroom, graffiti, compromised fence or other potential threats. The app allows video or photos to be uploaded, and it includes geolocation information.
“The ability for the community, for students and the workforce for example, to automatically real-time relay, in an anonymous way or not, potential threats to a student, to a school, is critically important,” said L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho.
Board member Nick Melvoin expressed concern that the district was rolling out too many apps at once, which could be confusing. At the same board meeting, the district also rolled out an app aimed at parents who want to check in on their student’s progress and another with general district information.—Emma Gallegos
Tuesday, March 7, 2023, 11:23 am
Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified to expand Mandarin dual immersion school
By popular demand, West Contra Costa Unified will expand its landmark West County Mandarin School from grades K-6 to TK-8 in the 2024-25 school year.
West County Mandarin School was initiated in 2016, and is the first Mandarin dual immersion public school in California to be authorized as an international baccalaureate school. The district’s school board, at a meeting March 1, unanimously voted to expand the program to include grades seven, eight and transitional kindergarten.
While community members enthusiastically welcomed the expansion, not all agreed on the district’s plan for locating the school. The school is currently housed at the Pinole Middle School campus, but needs more room to accommodate the additional students. Some parents have urged West Contra Costa Unified to move the school back to its original location at the district’s Serra campus in Richmond, which they said is a more central location for families since the school enrolls students from all over the district.
The district proposed keeping grades TK-5 at the Pinole Middle School campus and moving grades six to eight to Betty Reid Soskin Middle School in El Sobrante. The school board approved that plan with only two board members, Mister Phillips and Leslie Reckler, voting no.
Tuesday, March 7, 2023, 10:51 am
Link copied.Stockton Unified terminates contract with superintendent
Stockton Unified’s school board voted in closed session Feb. 28 to terminate the emeritus contract of Superintendent John Ramirez Jr., following a state audit revealing evidence of potential fraud, according to the Stockton Record.
Ramirez will still collect a full salary of $285,000 plus benefits for one year, according to the Record.
Ramirez had resigned from the superintendent position June 9, 2022, according to the Record, but continued in an emeritus status. Weeks later, a report was released by the San Joaquin County civil grand jury showing financial mismanagement and dysfunction at the school district, the news organization reported.
On Feb. 14, the state’s Fiscal Crisis Management Team released a report detailing potentially illegal financial activities, including allegedly ignoring board policies to award a $7 million contract for air filters, according to the Record. The agency spent nearly a year working on the report.—Ali Tadayon
Monday, March 6, 2023, 8:31 am
Link copied.Bones used in UC Berkeley anthropology classes likely taken from Native American graves
For decades, anthropology students at UC Berkeley have been taught with the remains of at least 95 people excavated from gravesites — many likely Native Americans, according to ProPublica.
The bones were stored in wooden bins, sorted by body part.
Professor Tom White, who used the collection to teach his students for decades, said the bones had been handed down from anthropology professor to anthropology professor for years and came with no records.
The university analyzed the bones in 2020 and discovered most were likely Native American. The university has been at odds with tribal nations in the past because of its handling of ancestral remains, according to ProPublica.
More than 30 years ago, Congress ordered universities that received federal funds to report any human remains in their collection, but UC Berkeley has been slow to do so. The university estimates it still holds the remains of 9,000 indigenous people in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology alone, according to the article.
UC Berkeley officials declined interview requests, according to ProPublica, but issued a statement saying there is now a moratorium on using ancestral remains for teaching and research at the university. The Hearst Museum also has been closed to the public so the staff can prioritize repatriation.—EdSource staff
Monday, March 6, 2023, 7:51 am
Link copied.New legislation would ban textbook bans
A bill introduced last month would require that textbooks used in California schools represent people from all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations.
The author of Assembly Bill 1078, Corey Jackson, D-Riverside, told the Sacramento Bee that the current curriculum used in schools often erases Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ voices.
“When students are exposed to a narrow range of experiences, they may struggle to relate to the material, which causes them to disengage from learning, or even develop biases that limit them from engaging with people from different backgrounds,” Jackson told The Bee.
The bill will prohibit school districts from banning curriculum, textbooks and other instructional materials without state approval.—EdSource staff
Friday, March 3, 2023, 9:55 am
Link copied.Tapping into family engagement can boost literacy and math, experts say
Family engagement may be key to student academic success, as K-12 Dive reported.
A strong connection between school and family leads to higher grades, test scores, attendance and graduation rates, said Karen Mapp, a senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education during the U.S. Department of Education’s first online panel discussion in its Family Engagement Learning Series.
“Family engagement is not a new concept,” Mapp said, as K-12 reported. “It is an essential ingredient to the success of our students in our schools, but we still are battling a little bit to try to get people to accept this and realize this.”
The Education Department’s series, launched in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Overdeck Family Foundation, aims “to boost family engagement and lift parent voices,” the department said in a statement. The online series comes several months after the Education Department disbanded its newly formed National Parents and Families Engagement Council. The council’s dissolution followed the filing of a lawsuit by a group of conservative activists who claimed the effort lacked “balanced” perspectives.
A parent’s relationship with their child is “the most underutilized natural resource in education,” said Alejandro Gibes de Gac, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Springboard Collaborative, during the session.—Karen D'Souza
Friday, March 3, 2023, 9:42 am
Link copied.Coalition urges California to invest $150 billion in climate-resilient, healthy schools
A coalition of health, city planning and education nonprofits issued a report Thursday urging California leaders to invest $150 billion over a decade to build and renovate schools to mitigate to the increasingly hazardous effects of climate change on children’s health and well-being.
“Most of California’s schools were built long before anyone knew anything about climate change,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder of UndauntedK12, an Oakland nonprofit that seeks clean-energy solutions to community challenges and infrastructure inequities. “These buildings were not designed to handle things like wildfire smoke and extreme heat. As global warming intensifies and severe weather becomes increasingly frequent, it will become more and more difficult for California’s aging schools to maintain conditions that are safe, healthy and conducive to learning.”
And yet schools are the places where young people spend the majority of their days, the report Climate-Resilient California Schools: A Call to Action observes. Its climate action plan makes 14 recommendations. They include:
- Adopt sustainable construction practices.
- Power schools with solar technology and battery storage.
- Electrify building energy systems to transition away from fossil fuel dependence.
- Upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to electric heat pumps.
- Improve the efficiency of water use.
- Create green schoolyards that increase shade and reduce the presence of asphalt.
Other groups in the coalition include the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research and the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools and Ten Strands, which strengthens strategies on TK-12 environmental literacy.
That first installment of the plan could come about in 2024 if the Legislature approves and voters pass a TK-12 school construction bond that incorporates elements in the report. Matching state money for local district renovations and new construction from the last bond, passed in 2016, has run out of funding.—John Fensterwald
Thursday, March 2, 2023, 11:04 am
Link copied.Minority males benefit from having a consistent academic coach, study finds
Full-time students who had the same academic coach during their time at community college were 10% more likely to complete their studies, Inside Higher Ed reported.
The three-year study involved 11 North Carolina community colleges and found that technology-enabled academic success coaching closed equity gaps. The study by Watermark Insights found that minority male students fared better by having the same success coach over four terms.
“Retention goes up, graduation rates go up, all those negative academic metrics decrease and we make improvements to students moving forward,” John J. Evans, associate director of student life for N.C. Community Colleges told Inside Higher Ed about the findings.—EdSource staff
Thursday, March 2, 2023, 10:48 am
Link copied.High school junior in Sonoma County stabbed to death in fight in art class
A 15-year-old student at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa allegedly stabbed another student to death Wednesday morning, during a fight that broke out in an art class, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
Police identified the victim as Jayden Jess Pienta, 16, of Santa Rosa, the newspaper reported. The 15-year-old, who has not been publicly identified, fled the school and was taken into custody about a mile away without incident.
“This is truly a sad day,” Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Anna Trunnell said at a news conference Wednesday.
According to an account of the incident police provided to the newspaper, the fight started at 11:11 a.m. when Pienta and another student, both juniors, began fighting with the 15-year-old. Twenty-seven other students were present.
A teacher and three staff members rushed to stop the fight. Moments later, the fight resumed and the freshman retaliated, pulling out a folding knife with a 4- to 5-inch blade, police told the newspaper.
The 15-year-old allegedly stabbed Pienta in the upper body three times. Pienta died after initially being treated on the campus and then taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, police said.—Thomas Peele
Thursday, March 2, 2023, 10:47 am
Link copied.UC Berkeley offers counseling to students and staff after man sets himself ablaze on campus
A man set himself on fire at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Wednesday, suffering critical burns, Berkeleyside reported. Two people who attempted to smother the flames suffered lesser burns.
UC police said it was not yet known whether the man is affiliated with the university, according to Berkeleyside. Police estimated the man is in his early 20s. He sustained second- and third-degree burns over much of his body and was taken to the trauma center at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
Stills taken from a video of the scene show a person spraying a fire extinguisher at the man as students in the plaza watch.
UCPD is asking people with information about the incident to call. The university shared counseling resources for students and staff with those who may have seen the incident or watched videos of it circulating online.—Thomas Peele
Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 9:46 am
Link copied.CSU sued by student, employee featured in USA Today investigation
A USA Today investigation has led to a lawsuit against California State University and two former top administrators at Fresno State University.
A Fresno State student and employee are suing the university system, former Fresno State President Joseph Castro and former Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas, according to the news agency.
They allege that Fresno State administrators mishandled their reports of sexual assault and harassment, causing them undue harm, according to USA Today. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education.
The student and school employee were interviewed by USA Today reporters for its investigation into allegations that Castro neglected the Title IX office and failed to address complaints of sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation lodged against Lamas.
The USA Today investigation resulted in Castro’s resignation, an outside investigation, a legislative audit and a number of reforms in the university system, according to the article.—EdSource staff
Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 8:54 am
Link copied.High costs, staffing shortages mean waitlists in after-school programs
Staffing shortages and rising costs have kept about a quarter of the nation’s operating after-school programs from returning to pre-pandemic capacity, according to a survey of the programs conducted for the AfterSchool Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization. About half of the nation’s afterschool programs have a waiting list.
Although 94% of the after-school programs that were open before the pandemic have reopended, almost all of the providers are concerned about the ability to hire and retain staff.
After-school programs provide academic enrichment, time for students to interact with peers and build social skills, opportunities for physical activity, time to develop life skills and a chance to talk with peers or staff members.
“After-school programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, give working parents peace of mind, and help students recover from the isolation and trauma the pandemic caused,” said Jodi Grant, Afterschool Alliance executive director. “Ensuring that all students can attend should be a priority for lawmakers and educators because these programs are essential to students’ recovery and to their success in school and in life.”
Grant said that only 19% of the after-school programs surveyed have been able to access Covid-relief funds.—Diana Lambert
Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 2:23 pm
Link copied.Los Angeles teachers union reelects Cecily Myart-Cruz as president amid negotiations
Cecily Myart-Cruz will serve a second three-year term as president of United Teachers Los Angeles after garnering three-fourths of the membership vote in a recent election. Her reelection at the powerful union comes as UTLA pressures the Los Angeles Unified district in contract negotiations for raises, smaller class sizes and more academic and mental health support for students.
Myart-Cruz, a former elementary and middle school teacher, will continue to lead the union’s 35,000 teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses during disputes with the district over its use of funds and its response to the pandemic’s impact on teachers and students. To combat high inflation and cost of living, the union is pushing for a 20% raise over two years. UTLA has also positioned itself alongside community advocates pushing to defund the district’s police department and direct more support services toward Black students.
Myart-Cruz’s opponents, Leonard Segal and Greg Russell, are both substitute teachers within the district and followed behind her with 16.6% and 7.9% of the vote, respectively. Both say the union hasn’t been doing a good enough job of listening to its members.
UTLA’s strong influence delayed the return to in-person classes after the pandemic pushed classes online. In October, pressure from the union over LAUSD’s decision to extend the school year caused the district to change its plans. UTLA filed a complaint and threatened to boycott, arguing the district did not bargain with its labor unions.
LAUSD also is currently in negotiations with SEIU Local 99, which represents nearly 30,000 custodians, special education assistants and other essential employees. The workers union has declared an impasse and voted to authorize a strike if it does not reach an agreement with the district.
Election results still need to be certified by the UTLA board.—Kate Sequeira
Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 12:27 pm
Link copied.New bills would raise pay for child care providers and lower family fees
The child care industry has long been beleaguered. Many families can’t afford the care they need while many providers subsist on poverty wages. Amid the crisis, two new bills in the California Legislature would raise pay for child care providers and lower family fees for subsidized care.
Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-Colton, have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 380 and Assembly Bill 596, that would raise provider pay by about 25% as well as lower family costs, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“We are at a crisis point in our child care system. Childcare employment rates have long struggled to meet the need for California families,” said Limón in a news release. “Providers have been underpaid, undervalued, and overutilized. It is past time that we pay child care workers what they are worth.”
Family fees are currently being waived by the state as part of pandemic relief, but they are set to return on July 1. Details on how the proposed legislation would be implemented have yet to be hammered out.
“With prices skyrocketing, families cannot afford another bill,” Reyes said in the news release. “It is critical that we fight to ensure better access to affordable child care for working families. We must also ensure that child care providers receive a dignified wage that allows them to keep their doors open to serve more families.”