California education news: What’s the latest?

Tuesday, July 5, 2022, 10:24 am

Link copied.Fiscal watchdog says San Dieguito Union High School District at financial risk

A recent report from California’s school finance watchdog, the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team, called out several weak financial practices that put the San Dieguito Union High School District at risk of fiscal insolvency, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday.

The San Dieguito Union High School District serves about 12,700 students at 10 middle and high schools in Northwest San Diego County.

The Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team pointed out a lack of checks and balances on the district’s budget and payroll, according to the Union-Tribune. FCMAT also urged against having one person control the district’s entire financial process.

FCMAT CEO Michael Fine told the Union-Tribune that San Dieguito Union High School’s issues, though significant, can be “addressed fairly easily.”

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, July 5, 2022, 9:40 am

Link copied.Biden offers help for schools to use American Rescue Plan funds on learning recovery

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on school districts and states to invest American Rescue Plan funds in programs to make up for lost learning time, and announced federal initiatives to help them do so.

During his 2022 State of the Union address, Biden called on Americans to volunteer as tutors and mentors to help address the impact of missed instruction during the pandemic. To facilitate that, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday launched the National Partnership for Student Success — a program that seeks to recruit 250,000 adult volunteers over the next three years to serve as tutors and mentors in schools.

The Department of Education also launched a new campaign Tuesday through the national Best Practices Clearinghouse, which will highlight successful evidence-based programs by states and schools to support learning recovery and student mental health. The department is calling on education leaders to nominate work through the clearinghouse that could serve as a model for other states and schools.

The department also updated the interactive map on the Best Practices Clearinghouse, where families can access information about state and local plans for American Rescue Plan funds.

Ali Tadayon

Friday, July 1, 2022, 2:34 pm

Link copied.L.A. County adds stricter requirements for sheriff’s deputies in schools

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who work in schools must undergo training in adolescent mental health and brain development and meet stricter standards for transparency, under a new contract approved this week by the county Board of Supervisors.

The contract, which affects deputies assigned to schools in Los Angeles County, comes in the wake of reports that deputies in Lancaster had disproportionate contacts with Black students, who were more likely to be searched and cited by deputies. Black students accounted for 60% of deputies’ contacts, even though they make up only 20% of the overall student body, the Office of Inspector General found.

The new contract also requires that deputies assigned to schools not administer school discipline, such as detentions, suspensions and expulsions. They also must undergo extensive training in trauma-informed practices, social-emotional development, youth mental health, de-escalation tactics and other measures intended to help students who might be experiencing a crisis.

Related to transparency and accountability, deputies must report data about contacts with students every quarter, and turn over body camera footage with 10 days of a request.

Activities in the Lancaster area, including a group called Cancel the Contract: Antelope Valley, had lobbied for the changes.

“The unanimous support for the motion today is a victory,” said Waunette Cullors, a trustee for Keppel School District, and Beth Cayetano, a high school teacher in the Antelope Valley. “It reflects the urgency of addressing the dangers of armed deputies on our campuses, especially for Black and disabled students, and it demonstrates the effectiveness of our growing advocacy, and momentum for our work to build thriving school communities. It’s a win for our community, teachers, and most importantly, our students.”

 

Carolyn Jones

Friday, July 1, 2022, 9:49 am

Link copied.Late start law for middle and high schools begins today

A law passed in 2019 that requires a later start for high schools and middle schools in California goes into effect today.

The law requires high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m.

The law was the first of its kind to pass in the nation, according to the Associated Press. It’s based on science that shows adolescents have a later release of the sleep hormone melatonin, and therefore stay up later than other ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Lawmakers in New Jersey and Massachusetts are considering similar proposals.

EdSource staff

Friday, July 1, 2022, 9:39 am

Link copied.Federal, state governments call on child care providers to increase vaccination of young children

Both the Biden administration and the California Department of Public Health are calling on child care and preschool providers to help increase the number of young children who get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Covid-19 vaccines were recently approved for use in children 6 months to 4 years old for the first time.

“As trusted messengers, staff of ECE programs and schools play a vital role in spreading the good news that COVID-19 vaccination is available for our youngest children,” wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a letter, according to The Hill.

The California Department of Public Health has also reached out to early childhood education providers, asking them to encourage parents to vaccinate their children, share information about the vaccines, and host free Covid-19 vaccination events.

Zaidee Stavely

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 8:55 pm

Link copied.Gov. Newsom signs state budget with record funding for education

With no fanfare outside of a press release, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $307.9 billion state budget Thursday that includes a record $128 billion for TK-12 schools and community colleges.

He did so on the final day before the new fiscal year on July 1 and only five days after he and legislative leaders completed negotiations. Over the last 24 hours, the Legislature plowed through no fewer than 29 budget trailer bills that flesh out the budget details and, as in the past, adopt policies without going through a hearing process.

For most Californians, the big news is the cash refunds, ostensibly to offset the high cost of gasoline, from $200 to $1,050, to taxpayers. For school districts and charter schools, it’s the $9.2 billion increase – 13.7% –  in the Local Control Funding Formula, the general fund that districts will use to meet basic expenses, cover  inflationary costs and create incentives and raises to retain staff and lure new hires to fill growing vacancies. They will also have a $7.9 billion grant to spend on Covid recovery, which, among many permitted uses,  could be spent on tutors, a high priority of parents but in short supply.

For parents of elementary school-aged children, there will be billions to add three hours of after-school activities and summer school; for even younger children, the first phase-in of transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds.

For college students, there are plans, contingent on funding in 2024, to expand the Cal Grant, the state’s main financial aid program, for an additional 150,000 students eligible for aid starting in 2024-25.

For more details on the education budget, go here.

Beside Newsom at the signing were the Legislature’s key negotiators: Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 10:31 am

Link copied.CSU announces tentative deals with two employee unions

The California State University system has reached tentative agreements with two labor unions for contracts that could be made final next month, university officials announced Thursday.

The deals are with the California State University Employees Union and the Statewide University Police Association, according to the statement. Terms of each deal were not immediately released.

The Employees Union represents roughly 16,000 support staff covering academics and operations of the CSU, including information technology, health care, clerical, administrative and academic support, campus operations, grounds and custodial services.

The police union represents the police officers, corporals and sergeants of the CSU police system.

University trustees are expected to vote on the contracts in July.

EdSource staff

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 9:44 am

Link copied.San Francisco may ask voters for OK to shift $60 million in excess tax dollars to schools

Voters in San Francisco may be asked in November if $60 million in excess city property tax revenue should be transferred to the local school district for student and community programs.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a public hearing on the proposed shift Wednesday drew both support and criticism. If approved by the city Board of Supervisors, the Student Success Fund ballot initiative, which would amend the city charter, would wind up on the November ballot.

If voters were to back the would-be ballot measure, the fund would support school and community programs to improve academic achievement or provide social-emotional services to students, the newspaper reported.

“We are failing a shocking number of students,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who co-authored the measure, citing subpar literacy rates at schools across the district. “It is a shame and it is a disgrace, and every adult should be doing something about it.”

But Kim Tavaglione, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, told supervisors that the plan could make city workers vulnerable to job losses if there is an economic downturn. During the Great Recession, she said, “city workers paid a hefty price and people went out the door.”

Supervisors are expected to vote in July on whether to put the plan on the November ballot.

EdSource staff

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 11:26 am

Link copied.High praise for state’s Cradle-to-Career Data System in new case study

The state’s Cradle-to-Career Data System hasn’t flipped a switch yet, but a national nonprofit that advocates for state education data systems and has been a past critic of California’s laggard efforts is now lavishing praise on California in a just-released case study.

“Today, California stands at the precipice of education data excellence,” proclaims the Washington, D.C.-based Data Quality Campaign in a report subtitled “How California’s P–20W Cradle-to-Career Data System Could Take the State from Last to First.”

When it’s fully running in several years, the Cradle-to-Career information system will link data from across the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary and workforce sectors. The report credits the systematic and transparent way the state laid the groundwork for the system, lining up the involvement and the support of the Legislature, researchers, key figures of participating agencies, and, through outreach and open meetings, the public.

The contrast with five years ago was stark, it said. Although not mentioned by name, former Gov. Jerry Brown limited education data collection to what was required by federal and state law for accountability purposes. Picking up on his direction, the report said, “state agency leaders came to see data as an unhelpful or even punitive measure.”

That changed with Gov. Gavin Newsom, who made collecting early childhood through college and workplace data “an integral part of his education and workforce goals and a priority of his administration.”

In passing an enabling law in 2019, the Legislature helped shaped the system by suggesting topics it wanted the system to address, such as the impact of early education on student success and achievement; the long-term effect of state intervention programs and targeted resource allocations in primary education; and how prepared high school pupils are to succeed in college.

State leaders and data advocates elsewhere could learn from California’s strategies, it said: These include:

  • Embrace transparency.
  • Increase opportunities for access through public engagement.
  • Look for champions.
  • Build from clear goals and address specific needs.

Paige Kowalski was the primary author of the report.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 11:11 am

Link copied.Child care providers reach agreement with state over healthcare access

Child Care Providers United (CCPU), the union which represents 40,000 child care providers in California, has reached an agreement with Governor Newsom to provide funding for urgent health care needs and as well as develop a strategy for retirement planning as part of the new state budget

Many child care providers, a workforce dominated by women of color who often survive on poverty wages, are cheering this as a historic move. The state will set aside $100 million in a trust to meet ongoing health needs.

“Providers stood together and stood strong in our demand that the state address gaps in providers’ access to health insurance; as a result, this agreement will place $100 million in ongoing funds in a trust to help providers access and afford health insurance as well as fund startup costs,” said Patricia Moran, a child care provider in San Jose and member of CCPU’s Joint Labor-Management Committees (JLMCs) for Health Care and Retirement. “Having lost a dear friend and sister child care provider last year because she could not access insurance and lost precious time while cancer advanced in her body, I am overwhelmed with emotion as we celebrate this life-saving victory for thousands of providers.”

The agreement will also fund a study of retirement benefits, as many providers can’t afford to retire, research shows. The budget also extends the current waiver on family fees for the state’s subsidized childcare. 

However, many early education and care experts are disappointed that the rates the state pays providers did not get bumped up, despite rising inflation, as part of this budget cycle.

“The Governor has given lip service to both the impacts of inflation on Californians and the important work of caregivers in our state,” said Kristin Schumacher, senior policy analyst for the California Budget and Policy Center, a nonprofit research organization. “But that sentiment didn’t extend to subsidized child care and preschool providers who are offering vital care for children despite being reimbursed with outdated and inadequate payment rates. These outdated payment rates make it really difficult for providers to offer early educators professional wages, keep pace with the rising minimum wage, and afford rising prices for food and supplies. Providers and families suffer when subsidized child care is limited in their communities because of policymakers’ lack of investment.”

After the legislature ratifies the budget and the Governor signs it, the agreement will go before CCPU member providers for a ratification vote.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 9:12 am

Link copied.Universal preschool bill advances in the Assembly

Universal preschool might become available to all California 3- and 4-year-olds if a new bill eventually gets signed into law.

Introduced by state Sen. Connie M. Leyva,D-Chino, Senate Bill 976  would remove requirements that students be low-income to enroll in free state preschool and allow community child care providers such as in-home day cares to tap into state funds. The bill passed out of the Assembly Human Services Committee Tuesday.

Transitional kindergarten, a bridge between preschool and kindergarten, will also be available to all 4-year-olds by 2025-2026. But Levya believes that working families would prefer more flexible hours and services than the TK-12 system can provide.

“As the mom of twin daughters—and now both of them with small children of their own—I know firsthand the importance of early care and education,” Leyva said.  “It is so important that we offer flexibility and options for working families with children who would benefit from transitional kindergarten but are unable to access those services because of their own work or other day-to-day responsibilities.  With a mixed delivery system—as advanced in SB 976—parents with young children would have the needed flexibility for care, such as early drop-off, late pick-up, weekend care, or year-round care, as well as, help to protect the stability of jobs for teachers at community-based providers, which employ primarily women of color.”

Proponents of the bill view it as a way to bolster the state’s beleaguered early childhood care sector, which has been hard hit during the pandemic.

“If the state intends to preserve a mixed delivery system so that families have options to meet their needs, it must provide resources to ensure that the whole system can participate in planning, pay their professionals on par with their peers and that the roll-out is equitable,” said Stacy Hae Lim Lee, senior managing director for early childhood at Children Now, an advocacy organization. “As it stands, without the elements included in SB 976, we will further destabilize the early learning landscape and children and families will lose options.”

Critics of the bill, while supporting early childhood education in general, point out that 4-year-olds will already have access to TK, which will free up many spots in the state’s subsidized preschool program for younger children.

“I do not believe we need more funding going to 4-year-olds,” said Scott Moore, head of Kidango, a nonprofit organization that runs many Bay Area child care centers. “With universal TK, all 4-year-olds will be served, so we should target new resources to serve younger children, especially low-income children. TK not only represents a historic expansion for 4-year-olds, (but) it allows current funding that serves low-income 4-year-olds in Head Start and State Preschool to serve them when they are younger. This will help meet an urgent need for families, which is infant-toddler child care.”

Some experts also believe that expanded transitional kindergarten will offer a high-quality early childhood program that can not easily be matched.

The bill fundamentally changes California’s plan to put publicly supported preschool for 4-year-olds in TK,” said Deborah Stipek, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and an early education expert. “I can see many advantages to supporting the community-based child care programs, as are described in the bill. But there are also many downsides. It would be much more expensive and very difficult (and costly) to do quality control. TK teachers need a teaching credential — ultimately I hope a P-3 credential. We wouldn’t be able to require that level of teacher preparation in community settings.”

 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 9:11 am

Link copied.Rising inflation hits women hardest, experts say

Anxiety over inflation impacts everyone but women may feel it more acutely, as Marketwatch reported. A combination of factors, including a gender imbalance in household duties and pandemic-induced financial insecurity driven by rising childcare costs, are impacting women’s mental wellbeing and, in turn, the children they care for.

“There is a clear link between people experiencing financial stress and having poor mental health,” said Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician at One Medical based in Phoenix, Ariz., as Marketwatch reported. Bhuyan works with lower-income communities and among her clients, mental health is a key issue, she said.

The deepening mental health crisis may be caused by many factors, she added, including social isolation and work pressure. Financial insecurity, triggered by 40-year-high inflation, is also fueling more tension.

“I’ve had patients who feel angry, depressed, anxious, or fearful about their finances,” Bhuyan said. “It’s often triggered when they have to pay their rent, when they get a bill, when they are thinking about their groceries, when they are thinking about gas prices, or even when they open and look at their bank account.”

The consumer price index rose 8.6% on the year in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but workers’ wages have not kept pace. They have risen by just 5.2% over the past year. Groceries are also more expensive now.

Inflation-induced anxiety has the potential to affect all people, but because women do most of the grocery shopping for their households, they are more likely to perceive prices to be higher, according to a research paper published last year by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal. 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 11:07 am

Link copied.Biden confirms he’s close to a decision on student-loan forgiveness

President Joe Biden told reporters last week that he is close to making an announcement on student loan forgiveness and that another extension on federal student loan repayment is “on the table.”

For months, the Biden administration has been teasing the announcement of a student loan forgiveness plan, sparking speculation that has ignited political fights between Democrats and Republicans, and within the Democratic Party.

The Washington Post, in May, reported that Biden plans to cancel $10,000 in student debt for people who earned less than $150,000 the previous year, citing anonymous White House insiders. On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person.

Biden also told reporters last week at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware that the extended moratorium on student loan repayment that’s been in place since March 2020 beyond its current end date of Aug. 31, is “all on the table right now.”

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 10:25 am

Link copied.San Dieguito Union High School superintendent fired following controversial comment

Cheryl James-Ward, superintendent of the 13,000-student San Dieguito Union High School District in north San Diego County, was fired Sunday following controversial comments she made about Asian students, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The district’s four-member board voted unanimously to terminate James-Ward’s contract effective Aug. 15, according to the Union-Tribune. James-Ward’s attorney told the Union-Tribune that she plans to sue the district since she believes board members made the decision out of retaliation for filing a harassment claim against trustee Michael Allman earlier in the year.

James-Ward has apologized for her comment, which was made at a board workshop in April on diversity, equity and inclusion. She said Asian students got better grades than other student groups because they are from wealthy families who recently emigrated from China.

The comment drew outrage from several Asian parents and community members who said it implied that all Asian students are Chinese and wealthy, according to the Union-Tribune.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, June 27, 2022, 1:37 pm

Link copied.New Interim President announced at Sonoma State

Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee was announced Monday as interim president of Sonoma State University to replace Judy Sakaki, who is resigning July 31. Lee will begin his presidency on Aug. 1.

Lee previously worked nearly 30 years at Sacramento State where he served as a vice president for administration and business affairs, an interim provost, and as vice president for academic affairs before retiring in 2018.

“Throughout his decades of service to Sacramento State, Dr. Lee has a demonstrated history of collaboration and innovation leading to improved levels of student achievement,” said Jolene Koester, interim chancellor of the Cal State system. “He has served as a faculty member and led two divisions within the university, and these experiences give him unique and thorough insight into the operations of a university campus.”

Lee’s salary will be the same as Sakaki who received $324,052 and $60,000 for housing.  Lee’s appointment is expected to be approved at the July CSU trustee meeting,

“Sonoma State offers world-class educational opportunities to the North Bay,” said Lee. “As the first member of my family to earn a college degree, I understand the profound impact it can make on the life of a student and their family. I look forward to working with SSU’s dedicated faculty, staff, administrators and student leaders to offer transformative opportunities to the students of the North Bay.”

Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, a master’s degree in international commerce, and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Kentucky.

Sakaki’s resignation followed faculty criticism for how she handled sexual harassment allegations by a former university administrator against her husband, Patrick McCallum.

Ashley A. Smith

Monday, June 27, 2022, 11:05 am

Link copied.Supreme Court rules that First Amendment protects football coach’s on-field prayers

In another decision this month broadening the right of religious expression in public schools, the Supreme Court Monday sided with a high school football coach who lost his job for conducting prayers at midfield after games.

Writing for the conservative majority in a 6-3 ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that coach Joseph Kennedy’s protection under the First Amendment to pray at school didn’t violate the First Amendment’s ban prohibiting government from establishing or showing preference to a religion.

Since 1968, the First Amendment standard had been the “Lemon Test,” which the Supreme Court established in its 8-1 decision in Lemon v. Kurtman. It instructed courts to decide whether a reasonable observer could conclude that a government’s action might appear to endorse religion.

Although Gorsuch wrote that his opinion did not overrule the test, the three justices who dissented said that nonetheless was the effect.

“This Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible. Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents … The Court now charts a different path,” he wrote.

Kennedy, a part-time coach at Bremerton High School in Washington State for seven years, had prayed after games, in the locker room or alone on the field. Later his players and eventually some members of the other teams joined him. He stopped his prayers in September 2015, after the school district expressed disapproval.

But one month later, he notified the district he would resume, and, after the game, spectators ran on the field to join him and players, along with a TV news crew. The district suspended him and did not renew his job after the season.

Last week, the same 6-3 majority overturned Maine’s law forbidding financial support for private religious schools as a First Amendment violation. It ruled in Carson v. Makin that the state’s tuition program, enabling families in towns without their own high schools to attend non-secular private high schools,  must include the option to choose religious high schools.

John Fensterwald

Monday, June 27, 2022, 10:16 am

Link copied.L.A. County school district misled public about finances, state audit finds

A state audit found that officials at Bellflower Unified School District, a 10,000-student district north of Long Beach, misled the public and the school board about the district’s finances while not providing adequate resources to students during the pandemic, the Press-Telegram reported.

Among other things, the audit found that the district amassed an $83 million reserve while not providing needed services and resources to students, especially those with disabilities.

Superintendent Tracy McSparren acknowledged that the audit showed “some areas” for improvement, but defended the district’s overall performance.

“Despite that, the auditor’s review determined no apparent board conflict of interest or unethical or wasteful actions,” McSparren wrote in an email to the newspaper, “and affirmed that the District included educational partners in developing plans.”

Carolyn Jones

Monday, June 27, 2022, 9:56 am

Link copied.Ken Burns documentary on youth mental health premiers tonight on PBS

Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness,” a two-hour documentary focusing on youth suicide, depression and other aspects of the mental health crisis, airs tonight at 9 p.m. on public television.

Produced by Ken Burns, the documentary takes a close look at what it’s like to live with mental health challenges from the perspective of young people, parents, teachers and others. The film was aired this weekend at the White House, where First Lady Jill Biden praised the filmmakers’ compassionate approach.

“It’s impossible not to be moved by the pain that these young people and their families share,” she said, according to The 74. “But there was so much hope there, too. Because they had all found a way from that darkness towards the light.”

The film is part of an ongoing public health campaign called Well Beings, designed to bring attention to mental health issues.

 

Carolyn Jones

Friday, June 24, 2022, 4:33 pm

Link copied.Gov. Newsom champions California as a sanctuary for those seeking abortion

On the heels of a Supreme Court opinion Friday overturning the right to an abortion, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders held a press conference where they championed a vision of California as a sanctuary state for those seeking abortion and reproductive care.

During the press conference Friday, Gov. Newsom signed into law AB 1666, which seeks to protect those seeking abortion out of state or those who provide aid or provide them with services from civil actions.

“We will not aid, we will not abet in their efforts to be punitive, to fine and create fear for those that seek that support,” Newsom said. “We are proud to provide it — and we do.”

Shannon Olivieri Hovis, the director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, championed a raft of state legislation from this legislative session — 16 bills in all — that will not only cement reproductive access in California but for those seeking abortion from other states. That includes the 13 states that have trigger bans on abortion that will go into effect immediately now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

“We are addressing our provider shortages,” she said. “We are addressing our access deserts. We are ensuring that people have the practical, logistical and financial support to get here. We are strengthening our provider network. We are doing all of the things that we need to do, and we are guaranteeing that they have privacy in their records and that they are not at risk of legal repercussions, providers or patients, in the state of California based on these hostile bans that we’re going to see move forward.”

One of those bills, SCA-10, will allow voters this November to enshrine the right to reproductive freedom, including abortion and contraceptives, in the California Constitution.

Newsom noted that the legal underpinning of the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade also call into question other constitutional rights, such as consensual sex acts, same-sex marriage and interracial marriage. Newsom said that he’s concerned that Republican lawmakers could pass a law that would nullify the work that California is doing to support reproductive rights.

“I’m very worried about it,” Newsom said. “If people don’t wake up, we could be living in that reality. Pay attention to what the hell is going on.”

Jodi Hicks, the president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, called attention to how this decision will acutely affect a younger generation. Young people outside of California seeking abortion will now be faced with the daunting prospect of having to travel outside of the state and navigate a new health care system, she said. She said young Californians who leave the state to attend college in the 26 states expected to ban or severely restrictions abortion.

“Where our students are going to college, and what rights do they have when they go there?” she asked.

Emma Gallegos

Friday, June 24, 2022, 11:03 am

Link copied.Biden to cancel billions in debt for defrauded students

A group of federal student loan borrowers agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education that would cancel $6 billion in federal loans for about 200,000 students.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, the students affected attended schools that have been found to have defrauded students or violated state laws.

“We are pleased to have worked with plaintiffs to reach an agreement that will deliver billions of dollars of automatic relief to approximately 200,000 borrowers and that we believe will resolve plaintiffs’ claims in a manner that is fair and equitable for all parties,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

In order for the settlement to be approved, the court has to review it and hear from members of the class-action lawsuit.

EdSource staff

Friday, June 24, 2022, 9:38 am

Link copied.Stanford University struggles with power outage

Stanford University has been dealing with a power outage for three days now. The power first went out on Tuesday afternoon, after a fire damaged a transmission line.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, one reason it’s taking so long to restore power is that the university’s power is now completely renewable, mostly solar, and most of the solar power comes from plants in Kern and Kings counties.

The university has some power, from generators, but does not have enough to fully turn on.

EdSource staff

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 6:40 pm

Link copied.Lance Christensen closes in on facing Tony Thurmond in runoff for state superintendent

With about 5% of the 7 million ballots cast still to be counted, Lance Christensen, a conservative education policy analyst, is the presumptive second place finisher who will challenge incumbent Tony Thurmond in the November election for California superintendent of public instruction.

With 11.7% of the vote, Christensen has built a 35,000 vote lead over Ainye Long, a San Francisco Unified math teacher, and a 44,000 vote lead over George Yang, a software engineer from Redwood City. On Election night, Christensen trailed both by a few thousand votes, but gained daily as final mail-in and provisional ballots were counted.

As of Thursday, 18 days since the primary election in pursuit of his second and final term, Thurmond has 46.2% – 2.8 million votes. He needed at least 50% of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff election, one of two statewide constitutional offices with that requirement.

In the latest results, the secretary of state’s office reported that 376,000 out of 7 million votes cast remained to be counted. The final day for all disputed ballots to be reported is July 18. Counties with the most uncounted votes are San Diego, 69,000; Sacramento, 61,000; San Mateo, 44,000; and Kern, 43,000.

Christensen is vice president of education policy for the California Policy Center. He previously held several positions in the state Capitol, as a legislative consultant in the state Senate, adviser to former Republican Sen. John Moorlach, and a finance budget analyst for the Department of Finance. A late entrant to the race, he raised only $39,000 in the primary, compared with $2 million by Thurmond, and will have to start again from scratch.

He helped to draft wording this year for an Education Savings Account, a school choice initiative that would have provided families with $15,000 for tuition and expenses to attend a private school of their choice. The proposal was withdrawn before it could qualify for the November ballot.

Christensen is expected to make school choice a campaign issue.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 9:38 am

Link copied.Biden proposes broad expansion of Title IX, including new protections for LGBTQ students

The Biden administration has proposed expansive new rules to Title IX, the landmark law that protects students, faculty and staff against sex-based discrimination in any school or education program receiving federal aid. Title IX was signed into law 50 years ago Thursday.

The proposed rules would protect LGBTQ students and others against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. This would mark the first time these groups, including trans students, would be formally protected under Title IX rules. The broad expansion comes amidst an effort by conservative groups to ban LGBTQ content from school libraries and lesson plans and to bar trans students from playing sports or using the bathroom of their gender identity.

“Our goal was to give full effect to the law’s reach and to deliver on its promise to prevent all students from sex-based harassment,” said Miguel Cardona, education secretary. “Our proposed changes would fully protect students from all forms of sex discrimination, instead of limiting some protections to sexual harassment alone, and make those protections include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The proposal rolls back Trump administration rules for investigations of sexual assault and discrimination, such as the requirement that schools hold courtroom-like live hearings that allowed for cross-examination. The proposed rules give schools leverage in determining what is a “fair and reliable process.”

Here is an outline of the administration’s the new regulations:

  • Clearly protect students and employees from all forms of sex discrimination.
  • Provide full protection from sex-based harassment.
  • Protect the right of parents and guardians to support their elementary and secondary school children.
  • Require schools to take prompt and effective action to end any sex discrimination in their education programs or activities — and to prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
  • Protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions.
  • Require schools to respond promptly to all complaints of sex discrimination with a fair and reliable process that includes trained, unbiased decisionmakers to evaluate the evidence.
  • Require schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including students who have brought complaints or been accused of sex-based harassment.
  • Protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
  • Clarify and confirm protection from retaliation for students, employees and others who exercise their Title IX rights.
  • Improve the adaptability of the regulations’ grievance procedure requirements so that all recipients can implement Title IX’s promise of nondiscrimination fully and fairly in their educational environments.
  • Ensure that schools share their nondiscrimination policies with all students, employees and other participants in their education programs or activities.
Emma Gallegos

Thursday, June 23, 2022, 9:35 am

Link copied.SF board votes to return Lowell High School to merit-based system

San Francisco’s Lowell High School will return to a merit-based admission system after a 4-3 vote by San Francisco’s school board Wednesday night.

Starting in 2023, freshmen will once again be admitted to the prestigious high school based on their grades and test scores, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. For the past two years, students have been admitted through a lottery system.

The school’s admission system has become a lightning rod in the discussion of equity in the district.

The board rejected Superintendent Vince Matthews’ recommendation that the lottery-based admission system remain in place for another year. He said reverting back to the previous system will face significant challenges when applications open in fall.

Emma Gallegos

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 12:35 pm

Link copied.And the award for education innovation goes to … California

The Education Commission of the States has named California this year’s recipient of the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation.

“California is demonstrating an intentional, comprehensive investment of funding and other resources that recognize and honor whole-child approaches to education, not only instruction,” the commission wrote, in announcing the award, one of three it presents annually, on Wednesday.

The commission, which provides services and convenes state education policymakers, pointed to the state’s recognition of, and support for, “the unique needs of students today.” It recognized the  Local Control Funding Formula as  “one of the nation’s most equitable formulas,” as well as additional funding for more teachers, counselors and paraprofessionals; a large investment to scale summer, before- and after-school programming; and money to convert thousands of schools into full-service community schools. Praising the continuum of support from preschool to higher ed, the commission pointed to the commitment to universal pre-K available for all 4-year-olds by 2025, and the expansion of the Cal Grant scholarship program and funding for zero-cost textbooks and open-educational resources for college students.

“This award recognizes the hard work that’s gone into this transformative change by leaders throughout the state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news release.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 12:34 pm

Link copied.Secretary Cardona appoints Oakland nonprofit’s CEO to new parent council

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has named the founder of an Oakland nonprofit recognized for its work with Black and Latino families during Covid school closures to be a member of a new “Parents and Families Engagement Council.” Cardona announced the formation of the council on June 14.

Lakisha Young, CEO of the Oakland REACH, will be among the representatives of more than a dozen national organizations that the U.S. Department of Education said would encompass families of students in public, charter, private and home schools. The council will identify ways families can amplify their voices and participate in school decisions. In coming weeks, the department said, it will hold sessions with parents, educators and school community members on how schools are providing academic, mental health and social and emotional support and what can be done in the coming school year.

Young founded Oakland REACH five years ago. During the Covid summer of 2020, when Oakland shut its school sites, the organization created a “city-wide virtual hub” to offer live online instruction in math and English language arts as well as enrichment programs in science and cooking for  K-8 Oakland children in mostly low-income Black and Latino families. Since then it has created liaisons to work with families and to train parents and community members to be advocates and literacy tutors.

Two months ago, Oakland REACH received a surprise $3 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to continue its work.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 9:32 am

Link copied.Many high school seniors prefer high-amenity colleges, survey shows

Lazy rivers, climbing walls and omelet bars are just a few of the on-campus amenities often blamed for driving the skyrocketing cost of college in the United States, as Forbes reports. Colleges have engaged in an arms race of perks—advertising free laptops and state-of-the-art gyms to entice prospective students, as Ron Lieber’s book “The Price You Pay for College” details, for decades.

A recent survey of high school students shows many want these amenities, often willing to shell out big bucks for them, despite the ballooning student debt crisis. Art & Science Group, a higher education consulting and research firm, conducted online interviews with 786 U.S. high school seniors planning to enroll at a four-year college or university in the fall. Asked whether they would prefer an institution that was less expensive with fewer amenities and services, only 39% of student respondents said yes. A greater share — 44% —said they would prefer a more expensive school if it had more amenities and services. 

“Concerns about the rising costs of higher education are real. The impact on families — especially starting out from lower-income positions — is real. But broadly, we haven’t yet hit a tipping point,” said David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group and co-author of the analysis, as Forbes reports. “There’s a significant swath of the media that says higher education is pushing something on people that they don’t want or that isn’t wise for them, and yet, the main market is telling us ‘Yeah, but we want more and are therefore willing to pay more for it.’’

Survey results show that most students are at least somewhat concerned about the cost of college. In 2021, the average sticker price for tuition, fees, room and board at private four-year colleges was $51,690 annually, up from $40,670 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) in 2006, according to a recent College Board report. The average list price for public, four-year colleges was $22,690 in 2021, up from $17,120 in 2006.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they had some concerns about their ability to afford college, and an additional 22% of students said they had major concerns about it. Black, Latino and first-generation college students more often said they had major concerns about college affordability.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 9:31 am

Link copied.Intelligence is mutable and can be boosted, study says

One in five American students will not earn a high school diploma, as UC reports, and young adolescents who fall behind in school risk never catching up, leading to unemployment, poor health and poverty, research has shown.

 A new University of California Davis study of intermediate school students in urban California and New York, however, gives some hope to underachievers. Researchers found that early interventions with teachers, training students that intelligence is malleable and achievable, caused struggling students to flourish and improve their grades.

“These results were exciting,” said the study’s lead author, Tenelle Porter, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Human Ecology who studies the psychology of education. “Here we show that we can change people’s minds about how education works — that abilities can improve with effort, and struggling students can see progress.”

Porter explained that there is often a mindset among children, their families and even teachers that students who are low achievers in middle school may never catch up — that intelligence levels do not increase.

The study showed, however, that buying into the educational philosophy that the brain, like a muscle, can be strengthened and trained — combined with training teachers how to use this knowledge in classrooms — raised grades a couple of percentage points over a year, on average. The intervention program used in this case was called “Brainology.”

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 9:15 am

Link copied.Curbing poverty may lower rates of child abuse, study suggests

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics details the impact of tax credits on child well-being, as Hechinger reports, even as policymakers debate whether to expand them.

The study found a significant decrease in reported child mistreatment cases in the weeks after families received federal child and earned income tax credits. During the pandemic, tax credits helped boost millions of families out of poverty.

These findings are particularly relevant as Congress debates whether to expand the child tax credits, which originated as a form of pandemic relief. The advance credit provided $250 to $300 each month directly to families.

Child maltreatment touches many lives. Roughly 1 in 4 children experience child abuse or neglect at some point in their lives, experts say, and poverty has long been associated with an increased likelihood of child maltreatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics study used broad child maltreatment data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, which includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect.

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 9:15 am

Link copied.Child care costs pinch family budget, report shows

Rising child care costs continue to strain families. A new report from Care.com found that rates for everything from nannies to after-school care have increased significantly since the start of the pandemic, as Fatherly reported.

Care.com’s ninth annual Cost of Care report digs into the hardships families endure so that their children have care during working hours, and the sacrifices parents make to afford that care.

Care.com found that 72% of families spend at least 10% of their income on child care, exceeding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services affordability threshold of 7%, and 51% of parents say they expect to pay at least 20% of the family income for care.

That is when parents are lucky enough to find the care they need. There has been a critical shortage of child care for some time, with about half of Americans living in “child care deserts,” areas with one spot for every three children needing care, according to a federal report.

Roughly 59% of parents are more concerned about the financial impact of child care than they were in previous years, the report shows, and 21% plan to leave or have left the workforce entirely in order to care for their children. Many said they would not grow their families because they cannot afford to care for them.

Karen D'Souza

Friday, June 17, 2022, 10:20 am

Link copied.Pandemic babies show developmental delays, more research shows

A growing body of evidence reveals a rise in developmental delays and challenging behaviors in children belonging to the COVID generation, as USA Today reports.

Born during or shortly before the pandemic, many of these children are talking, walking and interacting later and less frequently, research shows. They’re also more prone to certain behaviors such as outbursts, physical aggression and separation anxiety.

Issues of trauma, stress and isolation affect all children, of course, but infants and toddlers may be the most vulnerable because they have never known life without Covid. The first three years of life are often described as the brain’s window of opportunity, experts say, a time of great promise but also great risk. The most critical growth happens at the beginning, with the size of the brain doubling in the first year.

“The infant-toddler brain is the best sponge you could ever buy,” says Rahil Briggs, who oversees HealthySteps, a national program that provides early childhood development support to families at their pediatric visits, as USA Today reports. “It sucks up everything really good and everything really bad.” 

Karen D'Souza

Friday, June 17, 2022, 10:19 am

Link copied.Women plead with Congress to act on family issues on Capitol Hill

The economy is failing American women. That’s the tearful message that was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee during a recent hearing, as MarketWatch reported, with many women detailing the country’s lack of paid leave, its broken care economy and rising costs

In his opening statement, Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said the pandemic did not create the circumstances that force many women to juggle their careers, care for loved ones and financial instability, but it certainly made all of those things worse.

“We are so burned out, exhausted, overworked and overtired,” Tori Snyder, a single mother to a 4-year-old boy and small-business owner in Pittsburgh, as well as a member of the advocacy group MomsRising, told legislators. “We’re struggling even more now because it’s so expensive to feed our children. I hope you will invest in the care and the care infrastructure working families need with paid leave for all, affordable child care, home and community-based services and coverages that address all of our health care needs.”

While women’s participation in the labor force has ticked up after plunging earlier in the pandemic, there were still 656,000 fewer women working in May compared with February 2020, just before Covid struck, according to the National Women’s Law Center. To make matters worse, many women who overcame school closures, layoffs and child care shortages to return to work are now left to fend for themselves as pandemic relief measures, such as the enhanced child tax credit and expanded unemployment benefits, have expired.

Karen D'Souza

Thursday, June 16, 2022, 9:53 am

Link copied.Oakley resigns as California Community College state chancellor to head foundation

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley is resigning effective Aug. 1 to become CEO of the College Futures Foundation, he announced Thursday in a statement.

“Serving as chancellor of the community college system that gave me the opportunity to succeed in higher education has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” Oakley said in the statement. His resignation ends a tenure of nearly six years.

“At College Futures, we believe that securing the college success of students facing the most formidable barriers will help all of us thrive—our communities, economy, and state,” Donna Lucas, chair of the foundation’s board, said in a statement. “Our staff and board are dedicated to ensuring that more students who reflect California’s diversity can complete their postsecondary journeys and access the opportunity for a better life.

Eloy Oakley lives this mission every day,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom praised Oakley, calling him in a statement “an incredible leader and champion for higher education, setting California’s community colleges on a course for transformational change.”

There was no immediate word on a successor. Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales filled in for Oakley when he took a sabbatical last year to spend five months as a senior adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The College Futures Foundation advocates for programs and policies to especially help California students of color and low-income students to complete college. Its goal is that these graduates will reflect the state’s diversity.

In his new job, Oakley “will help state higher education leaders work to achieve bold new goals outlined in Gov. (Gavin) Newsom’s comprehensive multi-year framework that seeks to close equity gaps, reduce cost of attendance, improve transfer and time-to-degree for students,” the foundation said in a statement.

Oakley’s also a University of California regent. His  10-year UC term expires in 2024. He has not resigned from that post, Paul Feist, his spokesman as chancellor, said Thursday.

Then the president of Long Beach City College, Oakley became chancellor of the nation’s single largest higher-education system,  with 114 local colleges, in December 2016.

Oakley grew up in South Los Angeles. After serving in the Army as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, he enrolled at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach. He eventually transferred to UC Irvine, where he received a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s degree in business administration.

Thomas Peele

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 3:46 pm

Link copied.Two years after Covid, most states doing better reporting attendance, study finds

Most states, including California, have improved their reports on students’ attendance at school, a significant leap forward after Covid disrupted attendance-taking nationwide, according to a study released this week by Attendance Works.

Forty-four of the 46 states that participated in the survey said they now require that schools take daily attendance for in-person instruction. That’s up from 31 states that required it last year, when many schools were either remote or operating in a hybrid model.

Regarding distance learning, 39 states currently require attendance-taking during long-term distance instruction, and 41 require it for short-term distance learning for students who are quarantined at home.

Nearly all student groups suffered from absenteeism during the pandemic, but Black, Latino and low-income students tended to miss more school and fall further behind academically, according to the report.

“States have an important role in guiding how schools and districts collect attendance and chronic absence data,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works. “Well-crafted state policy that requires taking attendance daily and monitoring chronic absence is essential. Efforts to support student recovery following challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are unlikely to have the desired results unless children and youth are present in school to benefit from the programming being offered.”

 

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 2:52 pm

Link copied.Biden order expands protections for LGBTQ youth and families

President Joe Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order on Wednesday that expands health and counseling services, legal protections and other opportunities for LGBTQ young people and their families.

The order, issued during Pride Month and at a time when some states are passing laws targeting LGBTQ people, directs various branches of the federal government to:

  • Direct states to expand access to health care for LGBTQ adults and youth.
  • Study the impact of anti-LGBTQ laws on students and create policies that promote the full inclusion of students who are LGBTQ.
  • Clarify that federally funded programs cannot pay for “conversion therapy,” expand support for those who’ve survived conversion therapy and train health care providers on its harms.
  • Work with states to expand access to gender-affirming care and mental health services for LGBTQ young people.
  • Expand data collection about LGBTQ young people and their families.

LGBTQ advocacy groups applauded the order.

“This historic executive order will advance long-sought, LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices that will help save young LGBTQ lives,” said Amit Paley, president of The Trevor Project, which advocates for LGBTQ youth. “Despite recent and relentless political attacks, we are hopeful that this will move us forward toward a day where all LGBTQ young people can be themselves without fear of discrimination or violence.”

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 8:24 am

Link copied.California bill would give homeless high school seniors $1,000 a month

A bill in the Legislature would give homeless high school seniors $1,000 a month, from April until August of their senior year.

As reported by the L.A. Times, Senate Bill 1341 is projected to cost about $85 million a year, to cover approximately 15,000 students. To be eligible, students would need to meet the definition of homeless used by public schools, which includes living in unstable housing or doubling up with other families.

“It’s essentially this transitional support to try to disrupt the cycle of homelessness at this age group,” Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, told the L.A. Times. Cortese introduced the bill.

A previous bill he introduced would have given $500 a month to college students from low-income families, but that was scrapped after lawmakers realized that the money would be subtracted from students’ financial aid.

EdSource staff

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 8:23 am

Link copied.Advisers meet to discuss vaccines for children as young as 6 months old

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration are meeting today to discuss whether to authorize Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna for children 6 months to 4 years old.

No vaccine has yet been authorized for children under 5 years old.

As reported by the New York Times, Pfizer’s vaccine would be given to young children in three doses at one-tenth the strength of adult shots. Moderna’s vaccine would be two doses at one-fourth the strength of adult shots.

After two doses, Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be 28% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. The company has suggested that with a third dose, the effectivity would increase to 80%, but that finding is only based on 10 cases out of 1,678.

Moderna’s vaccine was found to be 51% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in babies 6 months to 2 years old, and 37% effective in children 2 through 5.

The FDA has said that those levels of protection are similar to the levels that adult vaccines offer against the omicron variant.

EdSource staff

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 5:27 pm

Link copied.Deputies called after tense board meeting turns physical in Fresno County

Sheriff’s deputies were called to West Park Elementary School after tensions at a board meeting turned physical on Monday, The Fresno Bee reported.

The school in rural Fresno County has experienced high staff turnover, including having three different superintendents since December 2021. Parents have voiced their lack of confidence in school leadership, including the fact that board president Kimberly Vivenzi is married to board trustee Mark Vivenzi.

The meeting became contentious Monday as parents demanded answers and board members tried to maintain order. Juan Benavidez, the husband of trustee Anna Benavidez, said he told parents to be quiet, The Bee reported.

An altercation between Benavidez and a parent began in the cafeteria where the board meeting was held, and ended in the parking lot, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said, where the parent grabbed Benavidez’s arm and pointed her finger in his face.

Benavidez then pulled away and left the meeting, but called his granddaughter, according to The Bee. She arrived at the school and got into an altercation with the same woman.

No one was arrested and neither side wanted to press charges, The Bee reported.

Dozens of teachers and staff have left the one-school district within the last year, and parents have questioned whether personal relationships between board members and school leaders have gotten in the way of teaching the district’s 600 students.

Some are hoping the school can merge with a larger district nearby, according to The Bee.

“There is a divide between our board members, and it is clear that they are not united in their vision for West Park. I don’t even know what that vision is anymore,” one teacher said.

Ashleigh Panoo

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 11:18 am

Link copied.Federal student loan repayment pause could be extended again

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona indicated that the moratorium on student loan repayment that’s been in place since March 2020 could be extended beyond its current end date of Aug. 31.

At a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing June 7, Cardona said the administration “has a day” when the moratorium is set to be lifted, likely referring to the sunset date of Aug. 31, and that “it could be extended or it could be that it starts there.” Either way, he said, the Department of Education will give borrowers “ample notice” before they will have to resume making payments on their federal student loans.

Between Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the moratorium has been extended six times, according to Forbes.

Though one of Biden’s campaign promises was to cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person, experts are doubting whether that will actually happen. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, the top Republican on the House Committee on Education and Labor, sent a letter to Cardona saying she didn’t believe the Education Department was prepared for wide-scale student loan forgiveness.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 10:33 am

Link copied.Irvine Unified changes school board public comment policy following ACLU letter

Irvine Unified changed its public comment policy for school board meetings last week after receiving a letter from the ACLU of Southern California accusing the school board of violating the First Amendment right to free speech, the Daily Pilot reported.

The letter called out the district for allegedly blocking an email from a person after she issued a complaint about discrimination against children with disabilities, according to the Daily Pilot. When the person tried to bring up the issue at board meetings in April and May, she was reprimanded for violating the board’s public comment policy, which didn’t allow people to complain about district employees at board meetings. The policy also didn’t allow comments that “reflect adversely upon the racial, religious, economic or political views, character or motives of any person on the staff and board,” according to the ACLU, and required people who address the board to provide their name and address.

Board President Ira Glasky disagreed with the ACLU’s allegation that the policy prevented people from speaking to the board.

The new policy, which the board approved last Tuesday, no longer requires people to sign in or provide their names and information in order to attend the meeting. ACLU staff attorney Zoe McKinney told the Daily Pilot that the new policy also presents an issue since it only pertains to attending a meeting, not speaking at a meeting.

McKinney was also concerned that the new policy allows the board president to decide whether a topic is appropriate for a meeting, according to the Daily Pilot.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 8:46 am

Link copied.Legislature passes state budget with lots of blanks and question marks

The Legislature overwhelmingly approved a placeholder state budget Monday, two days ahead of a June 15 constitutional deadline. The vote — 57-16 in the Assembly and 28-8 in the Senate — ensures that legislators will get paid while continuing to negotiate with Gov. Gavin Newsom over differences in time for the July 1 start of the next fiscal year.

The $300 billion package includes a record $128 billion for schools and community colleges. Newsom has 12 days to sign or veto the budget bill. He could veto it or send it back, crossing out spending he doesn’t like to make room for changes he wants in a revised version. Talks also could drag out over the summer over budget “trailer” bills that detail compromise language.

Education is only part of their disagreement. Since Newsom and the Legislature agreed on revenue projections, TK-12 and community colleges will receive $110.3 billion next year through Proposition 98. How to spend it needs to be resolved. The Legislature wants to boost ongoing general funding through the Local Control Funding Formula by 16% — a popular move among districts and charter schools complaining of labor shortages and inflation. Newsom favors a 10% increase and spending the difference on one-time funding, including more for community schools, reading coaches for low-income schools and teacher training in math and science.

Newsom wants to give districts $1.8 billion to spend on deferred maintenance on school facilities; the Legislature wants to spend $1 billion more on busing students toward a goal of free transportation to school for all elementary and low-income students.

Newsom spokesman Anthony York said in a statement, “Given the financial storm clouds on the horizon, a final budget must be fiscally responsible. The Governor remains opposed to massive ongoing spending, and wants a budget that pays down more of the state’s long-term debts and puts more money into state’s reserves.”

Newsom and the Legislature also differ on how to spend $21 billion to address climate change and how to return billions of the state’s surplus to relieve families hammered by rents and rising gasoline prices.

Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, acknowledged it could take weeks to agree on all of the issues.

John Fensterwald

Monday, June 13, 2022, 9:56 am

Link copied.Far-right protesters storm Drag Queen Story Hour in the East Bay

Protesters whom police believe are members of the extremist group Proud Boys disrupted story time at a library on Saturday while a well-known local drag queen was reading to a group of children.

Panda Dulce, a regular host of story times in the Bay Area, was reading to a group of youngsters Saturday afternoon at the San Lorenzo Library when a group of protesters stormed the event, shouting slurs and frightening children, Dulce told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“This could have absolutely gone worse,” Dulce told the newspaper in an Instagram post. “No words can appropriately capture the immediacy and terror u feel when u realize there is no buffer between u and these men. That they are likely armed and you are utterly defenseless.”

The Alameda County sheriff’s office is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

“It appears the group of men may be affiliated with the Proud Boys organization,” said department spokesman Lt. Ray Kelly. “We’re taking this incident very seriously. We’re going to do everything in our power to protect our LGBTQ+ community.”

Story programs hosted by colorfully dressed drag queens are common the the Bay Area, as a way to delight children, encourage a love of reading and promote gender inclusivity. The event at the San Lorenzo Library, in an unincorporated area south of Oakland, was part of a Pride celebration.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, June 13, 2022, 9:54 am

Link copied.Alameda school bond narrowly trailing

A $298 million school bond in Alameda, an East Bay city known for its strong support of public schools, is trailing by a narrow margin, according to the East Bay Times.

Measure B needs 55% of the vote to pass, but as of late last week had only garnered 53.5%. The bond would pay for classroom upgrades, modernizing older buildings, new plumbing, accessibility improvements and other upgrades at the district’s 16 schools.

“We remain hopeful that voters supported this measure, which was designed to provide much-needed basic repairs and upgrades to our schools,” Alameda Unified Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi said.

The bond would tax property owners $45 for every $100,000 of assessed value of their properties for 35 years.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, June 13, 2022, 9:52 am

Link copied.Stockton superintendent resigns after 13 months

Stockton Unified superintendent John Ramirez Jr., who was hired just over a year ago, resigned last week to care for his elderly parents, the Stockton Record reported.

The school board accepted his resignation at a special meeting Thursday night. Francine Baird, assistant superintendent of student support services, will become the interim superintendent until the board hires a replacement.

Ramirez is the latest superintendent in Stockton to quit after a short tenure. He was the sixth superintendent in 10 years, and the 14th in the past 30 years, according to the newspaper. Ramirez was appointed interim superintendent in February 2021 and hired permanently in May 2021.

“It’s been a pleasure and great opportunity to serve as superintendent of the Stockton Unified School District,” Ramirez said. “I will be serving the students and the Stockton Unified School Board in different capacity. I look forward in doing all that I can to support the district.”

Carolyn Jones

Monday, June 13, 2022, 9:44 am

Link copied.New candidate emerges as potential opponent for Tony Thurmond in November

Five days into the post-Election Day counting, State Supt. Tony Thurmond is still well short of the 50% majority he would need to avoid a runoff election in November, and a new leader has emerged as runnerup who would contest him.

As of Sunday afternoon, the latest voting update by the California Secretary of State, Thurmond has 46.2% of the vote, up 0.5% since Election Day, with 1.9 million votes. Lance Christensen, on leave as vice president of education policy for the California Policy Center, a conservative think tank before, has moved into second position, 582 votes ahead of George Yang, a software engineer from Menlo Park, and 4,200 votes in front of  Ainye Long. Long, a math teacher and department head at Willie Brown Middle School in San Francisco Unified, had been ahead of Yang by 1,800 votes and Christenen by more than 3,000 votes on Election Day.

In the latest result, Christensen and Yang both have 11.4% and Long 11.3% of the vote. The Secretary of State has not disclosed how many voters remain uncounted. They would include all mail-in ballots postmarked no later than Election Day; they must be received by June 15 to be counted.

If he were to emerge as Thurmond’s opponent, Christensen would run on the issue of school choice. He helped draft one of two proposed initiatives to establish Education Savings Accounts, which would provide families initially with $14,000 per year to pay for private and religious schools. Neither initiative made to the ballot this year.

John Fensterwald

Friday, June 10, 2022, 4:12 pm

Link copied.UC Davis graduation ceremony cut short by high temperatures

A commencement ceremony at UC Davis was stopped at 11 a.m. Friday because of high temperatures.

The recommendation to end the graduation ceremony came from fire agencies and the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, according to a statement from UC Davis campus officials. But many of the more than 12,000 at the event, sweltering in 90-plus degree heat, left before the ceremony ended.

One graduate said she left before she officially graduated because of the heat.

“Almost passed out from heat exhaustion at the UC Davis graduation,” said @Moonchild_Monii on Twitter. “I really wanted to walk the stage, but I had to leave. It was so bad and so hot!! I’m bummed out! First in my family to graduate and I couldn’t enjoy it. This event was poorly planned.”

The ceremony was scheduled for 8 a.m. because of the potential for high temperatures. By 11 a.m. many students still hadn’t received their diplomas, but university officials decided to stop the commencement.

The university reported that five people were taken from the ceremony by ambulance because of heat-related illness and there were 34 calls for medical service, according to SFGate.

Students who were not able to cross the stage for a diploma have been invited to a separate ceremony on Sunday.

Diana Lambert

Friday, June 10, 2022, 3:41 pm

Link copied.State board to vote on new early childhood education credential

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing will consider a new credential for pre-k through third grade at its meeting Wednesday.

The early childhood education specialist credential is meant to increase the number of teachers eligible to teach transitional kindergarten, which is being expanded to include all 4-year-olds by 2025. It has been estimated that the state needs 7,000 to 15,000 more TK teachers by then, said Mary Sandy, executive director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

“It would be a bridge for the early childhood workforce that would recognize their work in pre-K and require them to complete teacher preparation for K-3 to earn the full credential,” she said.

Experienced preschool teachers with a bachelor’s degree can take teacher preparation courses and 24 units of child development or early childhood education courses to earn the credential. The credential also offers alternative pathways like internships, residencies and apprenticeships. Candidates for the credential also would be required to pass the Reading Instruction Comprehension Assessment or some alternative, Sandy said.

Clinical practice can be waived if the teacher has at least six years of experience, has taken required courses or a test to prove subject-matter competence and has completed mandatory coursework.

All teachers, including those with a multiple-subject credential, will have to take 24 units of early childhood education or child development courses by Aug. 1, 2023, to teach transitional kindergarten if their schools want to be funded by the state for the class, Sandy said. Multiple-subject teachers will not be required to get the credential but would be able to earn it after taking the required coursework.

“Our goal is that this credential be equivalent in rigor to the multiple subject credential,” Sandy said.

Diana Lambert

Friday, June 10, 2022, 3:35 pm

Link copied.Razor thin lead for second place in likely runoff race for California state superintendent

The contest to see which challenger will face incumbent State Supterintent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond in a likely runoff election in November has gotten even closer, with a new second-place finisher; an unknown number of votes are still left to be counted.

Thurmond hasn’t gotten any closer since election day on June 7 to the 50% margin required to win without a runoff election. His share is still 45.7%, with 1.53 million votes.

But second and third places have changed. George Yang, a software engineer from Menlo Park and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014, is now 231 votes ahead of Ainye Long, a math teacher and department head in San Francisco Unified School District, as of the noon update on Friday. Both have 11.6% of the vote. Close behind, with 11.5% – 3,936 votes behind Yang – is Lance Christensen, who has been an education policy expert with the conservative California Policy Center.

On election night, Long had a 1,800 vote lead over Yang.

The California Secretary of State’s Office has not estimated the number of uncounted votes. They could include thousands of provisional ballots – those that have to be individually inspected – and ballots mailed on election day.

John Fensterwald

Friday, June 10, 2022, 9:35 am

Link copied.Clovis Unified teachers, other staff win 7% raise

The Clovis Unified school board voted Wednesday to grant a one-time raise of 7% to teachers and other district employees, according to the Fresno Bee.

Teachers said they were happy about the raise, but it wasn’t enough to cover the rising cost of living and inflation, or put Clovis salaries on par with nearby districts.

“We are the lowest-paid teachers in the area,” teacher Kristin Heimerdinger, spokeswoman for the Association of Clovis Educators, told the Bee in May. “While a paycheck is not necessarily the only factor that can affect your job satisfaction, the reality of it is that people can make more money in other school systems and in other professions. … We’re told regularly that we are the best at our jobs, but they will not pay us as if we’re the best.”

Clovis teachers are among the few teacher groups in California that are not unionized.

The raises, which will cost the district $30.9 million, cover more than 4,000 teachers, administrators, bus drivers and other staff. Psychologists and other mental health providers are working on separate negotiations with the board.

Carolyn Jones

Friday, June 10, 2022, 9:34 am

Link copied.Kern County wins $18 million grant to streamline school-to-career pathways

High school students in Kern County will get more opportunities to enroll in college, train for careers and receive college and professional mentoring, due to an $18 million state grant, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

The grant, announced by the Kern County Office of Education, is intended to boost the number of young people in Kern County who attend college and are prepared for skilled jobs in the local workforce.

The grant is sorely needed, local officials said. Only 17% of Kern County residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 35% statewide, the paper reported. Local business owners said they struggle to hire qualified workers, which hurts the local economy.

“By streamlining specific K-16 pathways, we will remove barriers to educational success and improve educational attainment levels for Kern County students,” Mary Barlow, county superintendent of schools, said Thursday. “The programs funded by this grant will ensure all students have equitable access to resources and opportunities, and it will help meet the workforce needs of our region.”

Carolyn Jones