California education news: What’s the latest?
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 3:22 pm
A key advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds, a move that brings the jab a huge step closer to about 28 million children. Shots could be given as early as next week, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The panel suggested giving the 5-11 age group one-third the dosage given to those 12 and older. It should be noted that the committee’s advice on whether to authorize vaccines are not binding, but the FDA usually follows them in the days after the vote. That turns the matter over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has its own panel scheduled to weigh in next week.
The FDA panel voted after regulators argued that thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have been hospitalized with Covid 19 and nearly 100 have died over the course of the pandemic. During a long debate, some committee members questioned whether every child in the age group really needed the vaccine or whether it should be limited to those at high risk of severe Covid-19.
Federal officials hope that the pediatric shot can help close a major gap in the U.S. vaccine campaign that has worried parents, educators and public health leaders, as the Times noted. If the FDA grants authorization, about 28 million children will become eligible. Only the youngest, children under 5, would remain uncovered.—Karen D'Souza
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 12:26 pm
EdReports’ instructional material reviews draw on expert educators and are often considered by districts and committees in decisions regarding textbooks and curriculum.
The most recent 2018 version of Units of Study did not meet EdReports’ expectations, the organization said. EdReports criticized the curriculum for relying on “cueing” in K-two materials for solving unknown words. Cueing focuses on the immediate sounds and meaning cues rather than decoding words.
Materials for grades three to five “did not meet the expectations” for text quality and complexity and alignment to the expectations of the standards, according to the review.
“Materials lack a variety of regular, standards-aligned, text-based listening and speaking opportunities,” EdReports said in the review.
The California Reading Coalition, in a tweet Tuesday, said the EdReports review should be a “wake up call for California districts” that use the curriculum.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 10:29 am
Longtime education reform advocates are working to amend the state’s constitution in a way that could lead to lawsuits from parents dissatisfied with their schools’ policies and practices.
The campaign, called Kids First, submitted a letter to the state’s Office of the Attorney General on Oct. 7 proposing a November 2022 ballot measure to add constitutional language that declares all students have rights to a “high quality” public education that “provides (students) with the skills necessary to fully participate in the economy, our democracy and our society.” The proposal would need enough signatures to be put up for a statewide vote.
The Sacramento Bee reported the initiative could set up legal battles with the state’s teachers unions and school districts. The initiative doesn’t define what a “high-quality education” is, which would be left to plaintiffs to argue and courts to determine, according to the Bee.—Ali Tadayon
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 9:52 am
Link copied.UC Merced to launch medical school in 2023
After more than 20 years in the works, University of California, Merced, will begin enrolling its first medical school students in 2023.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers visited the site of the future medical education program on the UC Merced campus Monday. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of having a medical campus in the Central Valley, which experiences some of the worst health outcomes in the state while having fewer doctors compared with other regions. There are 157 medical doctors for every 100,000 residents in the Central Valley, while the Bay Area has 411 per 100,000, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. Statewide there’s 157 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, while in the Central Valley there are fewer than 45 per 100,000.
“ZIP codes shouldn’t be a pre-existing condition,” Newsom said. “UC Merced’s medical school will be the first of its kind for the community, providing local students with opportunities to both learn closer to home and serve the communities they grew up in, while also working to confront the most persistent health challenges facing the Central Valley head-on.”
The medical school will have the capacity to train 200 graduate students, with the first cohort of 50 on track for enrollment in 2023.—Ali Tadayon
Monday, October 25, 2021, 5:18 pm
California State Auditor Elaine Howle, whose critique of district spending patterns built the case for the first significant change to the Local Control Funding Formula, announced her retirement Monday at the end of the year.
Howle, 63, had been the state auditor more than 21 years and worked in the independent auditor’s office for 36 years.
Howle perhaps will be best remembered for her sharply worded audit of the Employment Development Department’s extremely low response rate during the Covid recession to workers’ phone calls for assistance — an issue her office had raised a dozen years earlier during the Great Recession, with no improvement. She castigated the department’s “significant missteps and inaction” in a related audit that estimated the department had been subject to $10.4 billion in fraud from fake claims for unemployment.
Howle’s 2019 audit of how San Diego, Oakland and Clovis spent money targeted for low-income students and English learners under the Local Control Funding Formula pointed to flaws in the 2013 law and poor oversight by county offices of education. This year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law one of her recommendations: prohibiting districts from using leftover funding for targeted student groups however they want the following year. Other recommendations to make it easier to track spending for those students have not been adopted.
In an audit earlier this month, Howle criticized the California Department of Education for a lackluster system of auditing record levels of federal Covid relief distributed to school districts.
An audit in 2020 found that the University of California admitted at least 64 wealthy, mostly white students who were well-connected to donors and well-known families.—John Fensterwald
Monday, October 25, 2021, 2:27 pm
Link copied.California Department of Education to host open house to celebrate its 100th anniversary
The California Department of Education is hosting a virtual open house over three days next week to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Staff will talk about their work and various programs at the department. Speakers include the Emergency Services Team, who will talk about helping schools during wildfires; administrators from the California Schools for the Blind and Deaf in Fremont and Riverside, who will offer information about their programs; and staff from the Government Affairs Division, who will talk about education policy and the state budget process. See the full list of presenters here.
“This last year-and-a-half have been — for many of us — some of the most difficult and emotionally trying times in our professional careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Because of this pandemic, we are working overtime to support schools and also making efforts to not become too isolated from each other and our school communities. This event, which coincides with CDE’s 100th anniversary, is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the CDE and the spectrum of support the professionals in this agency provide each day.”
The Zoom event begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 26 with opening remarks from Thurmond.—Diana Lambert
Monday, October 25, 2021, 12:11 pm
Link copied.Three schools in Richmond close due to gas leak
About 2,400 students at Richmond High, Peres Elementary and Ford Elementary in Richmond were sent home Monday due to a gas leak following the weekend’s heavy storms.
The schools are expected to reopen Tuesday, said West Contra Costa Unified spokesman Ryan Phillips.
While the gas leak was what prompted the school evacuations, flaring from the Chevron refinery had sent flames, smoke and foul odors into the air in west Contra Costa County, the Bay Area News Group reported Sunday.—Ali Tadayon
Monday, October 25, 2021, 10:50 am
Seven school districts in Sonoma County closed Monday as a result of flooding or power outages caused by a fierce weekend storm, the Sonoma County Office of Education announced.
Bennett Valley Union, Forestville Union, Guerneville, Harmony Union, Montgomery Elementary, Sebastapol Union, Twin Hills Union and Anderson Valley Community Day School are closed.
In addition, the Plumas Unified School District in Plumas County has canceled bus service in several communities because of a massive mudslide on Highway 70, the Plumas News reported. The mudslide occurred in an area scorched by the Dixie fire in July.—Carolyn Jones
Monday, October 25, 2021, 10:49 am
Tensions over whether to keep armed officers continue to roil districts in Los Angeles County following the shooting death of a teenager by a school safety officer in Long Beach Unified last month.
But in its neighboring county to the north, Kern County, it’s the sheriff’s department that will give 90-day notice this week that it’s pulling its officers out of a half-dozen districts.
The problem is bodies, not dollars, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told Bakersfield.com. “It’s simple and boils down to the fact that we don’t have staff. We don’t have enough staff for local patrol.”
The department currently has contracts with Greenfield Union, Standard, Taft City and Edison elementary school districts. It also has contracts with Wasco Union High and Taft Union High school districts. The school districts all had contracts for one school resource officer each through June or July.
Youngblood, who will tell county supervisors Tuesday of his intent to end the contracts, said his first priority is making sure a deputy is available in communities to respond to 911 calls but that deputies would be available when schools call to request their assistance.
“I don’t want the public to think that we’re not going to be there,” he said.—John Fensterwald
Monday, October 25, 2021, 10:44 am
Students are discovering that training for and competing in the Los Angeles Marathon is an ideal way to build resilience, cope with stress and achieve goals, according to a feature in the New York Times.
Over the past three decades, a nonprofit called Students Run L.A. has helped more than 50,000 middle and high school students in Southern California participate in the annual footrace, a 26.2-mile trek from Dodger Stadium to Century City. Most of those students are from low-income communities, and nearly all went on to attend college.
“It’s a combination of who the kids are and the training they do,” Ben Bravo, a teacher in Carson, told the newspaper. “You finish a marathon, something such a small percentage of people do on any weekend, and you know you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
The Los Angeles Marathon is scheduled for Nov. 7, seven months after it was postponed due to Covid.—Carolyn Jones
Friday, October 22, 2021, 9:08 am
A student who spoke at a Clovis Unified school board meeting in favor of masking and vaccines was booed and jeered by adults in the audience, according to the Fresno Bee.
One person said, “Boy, sit.” Another woman said, “Just because one person is allergic to water, should we all stop drinking water?”
The student left the room in tears after the backlash.
Most of the adults who spoke at the meeting were asking the board to ignore state vaccine and mask mandates and allow parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children or make them wear masks to school.
Superintendent Eimear O’Brien said the treatment student Rami Zwebti received was “disturbing and utterly unacceptable,” according to the paper.—Zaidee Stavely
Friday, October 22, 2021, 9:05 am
A high school math teach teacher in Riverside was placed on leave after a video taken by a student went viral, showing her wearing a fake headdress, stomping around the classroom and making chopping motions, while chanting “Soh-Cah-Toa,” which is often used in math courses to remember how to solve for missing sides and angles in a right triangle.
Riverside Union School District released a statement Thursday, saying, “These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices. Her actions do not represent the values of our district.” The district said the teacher has been placed on leave while the district conducts an investigation.
Community members organized a protest Thursday in response to the video.
Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra, the director of the American Indian Movement‘s Southern California chapter and tribal chair of the Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra, said: “People are upset, people are a little angry with what happened because it’s just so disrespectful to our youth,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s essentially mockery is what it is — racial mockery,” said James Fenelon, director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at Cal State San Bernardino, according to the Riverside paper The Press-Enterprise.
The Press-Enterprise also reports that a 2012 alumni found an old yearbook with a picture of the same teacher using the same tactic. The district says it is offering to counsel students at the high school.—Zaidee Stavely
Thursday, October 21, 2021, 2:06 pm
Two California principals are among the eight recipients of this year’s Terrel H. Bell Award, awarded to school leaders nationwide whose vision and collaborative leadership style have transformed their schools. They are Christy Flores, principal of Maude B. Davis Elementary School in Newport-Mesa Unified, and Sonia Anna Flores, principal of Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy in Gilroy Unified.
“Over the last 18 months, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, these school leaders have found creative ways to protect, nurture, and engage children, families, and school staff,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, in announcing the awards Thursday. “Bell awardees have worked tirelessly, investing every ounce of their energy and expertise in their schools and students.”
The award is named after Terrel Bell, the nation’s second secretary of education. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the application process for National Blue Ribbon Schools, which recognize public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
Sonia Flores has led the TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy for eight years. Located on the grounds of Gavilan Community College, the school enables students from diverse backgrounds to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree or two years of college credit. As part of building a school community, all ninth through 11th graders during first period take academic prep, which provides peer tutoring, restorative justice led by an honors tribunal, and associated student body-led activities and assemblies.
Since 2013, Christy Flores has been principal of the Davis Magnet School, where she stresses building well-being, a growth mindset, relationships, empathy, and resilience, according to a U.S. Department of Education news release. Through the Davis Magnet Foundation, which she started, the school has been able to underwrite after-school robotics, a ceramics kiln, teacher assistants, grade level supports and a community garden.—John Fensterwald
Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10:56 am
After months of contentious talks between progressives and moderates, Democrats are getting closer to an agreement on what policies to include in President Joe Biden’s sweeping social safety net package. Some of his ambitious early childhood education agenda will likely be pared down to fit a reduced budget of $2 trillion over 10 years, rather than the original $3.5 trillion budget plan, as PBS reports.
Negotiations over the package are fluid, but PBS notes that the plan will likely include universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, a paid family leave benefit (likely trimmed from 12 weeks to four weeks), and another extension of the child tax credit that was expanded earlier this year. The Biden administration had been aspiring to make the credit, which has been pivotal in lifting children out of poverty, permanent.
PBS also reports that child care subsidies for poor and middle-income Americans are likely to make the cut. Biden’s plan calls for parents earning up to 150% of the state’s median income (about $115,000 nationally) to pay no more than 7% of their income on child care, with the poorest families getting free child care.—Karen D'Souza
Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10:43 am
Link copied.Newspaper’s analysis shows LAUSD students suffered severe impacts from pandemic school closures
Los Angeles Unified School District students have suffered “deep drops in assessment scores or below grade-level standing in key areas of learning” because of the pandemic and school closures, a data analysis by the Los Angeles Times found.
Black, Latino and other vulnerable students were particularly hard hit, the newspaper reported Thursday
Elementary school reading scores are down 7%, and more than 200,000 students are not meeting grade-level math and reading goals, according to the report.
The achievement gap between Black and Latino students and white and Asian students widened to 21% during the pandemic, according to the report.
“We have to fix it,” the Times quoted LAUSD board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin as saying. “The opportunities available to students that have been most historically marginalized by systems of power are exactly what we have to be focused on.”—Thomas Peele
Thursday, October 21, 2021, 9:25 am
President Joe Biden’s proposal to make community colleges tuition-free is dead, a victim of cuts to his massive spending plan on social services, NPR is reporting.
The New York Times is also reporting the tuition plan has been cut.
Other higher education measures, including increased Pell Grants for low-income students and funding for vocational programs and college completion “are still on the table,” according to NPR.
Biden had proposed $3.5 trillion in spending on social programs that is now likely to be pared down to $1.75 to 1.9 trillion, after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ., sank a plan to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
Bloomberg reported that Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat who represents a section of Los Angeles, remained hopeful that free community college tuition would remain in the legislation. “I’m a product of community colleges, and I want to make sure that stays in,” he said. Gomez attended Riverside Community College and went on to receive a master’s from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Speaking in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, Biden called for increasing Pell Grants to help students pay college costs but did not mention community colleges, the New York Times reported.
In meetings with lawmakers later in the day, the Times reported, the president conceded that his free-tuition plan would have to be among the cuts.—EdSource staff
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 3:49 pm
All middle and high schools in California will have access to a free, 43-minute documentary film, discussion guide, classroom exercises, tip sheet and teacher resources to help students who are experiencing anxiety.
The film, “Angst: Building Resilience,” covers the causes of anxiety, firsthand accounts from students and advice on how to overcome it. The film is available in English and Spanish, and families can watch it at home.
Anxiety among young people was high before the pandemic, due to the rise of social media, economic pressures on families, school shootings and other factors. Covid-19 and distance learning exacerbated anxiety for many students, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on school.
The film is part of a widespread effort among school districts and the state and federal governments to address students’ mental health challenges as they return to in-person school. More counseling and social-emotional learning practices are also offered at many schools.
The movie and accompanying materials are co-sponsored by the California Department of Education; the IndieFlix Foundation, which supports films with social benefits; CalHOPE, the state’s free online resource for people experiencing Covid-related mental health challenges; and Blue Shield of California.—Carolyn Jones
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 2:59 pm
President Biden’s proposal to make community college tuition-free nationwide is being dropped from the spending package that the White House is currently negotiating over with Congress, according to reports.
Biden informed House Democrats on Tuesday that the final bill would not include tuition-free community college, CNN reported, noting that the plan has been a top priority for the White House. However, other higher education proposals are still on the table and could make the final package, such as an expansion of the Pell Grant, according to NPR.
Biden suggested last week that the free community college proposal would need to be dropped from the final bill.
“I don’t know of any major change in American public policy that’s occurred by a single piece of legislation,” Biden said, according to NPR. “I doubt whether we’ll get the entire funding for community colleges, but I’m not going to give up on community colleges as long as I’m president.”—Michael Burke
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 11:05 am
Los Angeles Unified reports that almost all of its employees, including 99% of its teachers, have submitted proof they have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.
The district — the state’s largest — reports that 97% of all their employees, including 99% of their administrators and 97% of classified administrators, have received the vaccine.
The district had been struggling to get employees to turn in proof of vaccination, reporting in late September that only 1 in 5 employees had turned in proof of vaccination. It moved the deadline for all staff to be fully vaccinated from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Staff members were required to have had the first dose by Oct. 15.
The district encouraged vaccinations by hosting vaccine clinics on campuses, hosting informational meetings and allowing staff up to three hours of paid time off to be vaccinated.
Employees who do not have their first dose will continue to be paid through Oct. 31, after which they will be terminated.
“We care deeply about all of our employees,” said district officials in a statement. “We appreciate everyone’s commitment to maintaining the safest possible learning environment for the students and families we serve.”—Diana Lambert
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 10:15 am
A lack of equity persists in gifted education, research shows, and as the Hechinger Report notes. In New York City, the difference between gifted and general education is especially stark.
White and Asian parents who have the time, resources and motivation to engage in rigorous test preparation for their 4-year-olds tend to see their children excel on standardized tests and therefore dominate more than three-quarters of the coveted seats, although these two groups account for less than a third of all students. Meanwhile, Black and Hispanic students make up more than 65% of the public school system but win only 16% of the gifted seats.
Nationally, more than 13% of all Asian students are enrolled in gifted programs compared with just 4% of Black students, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Among whites, 8% get tapped for gifted classrooms. Among Hispanic students, it’s 5%. That reflects long-standing achievement differences on standardized tests, but researchers have also found that gifted Black students are often overlooked, especially by white teachers.
Bias may play a role. A 2021 study in Ohio found that high-achieving students who score among the top 20% on third grade tests were much less likely to be identified as gifted if they are Black or low-income students. As they grew up, these Black and low-income high achievers were less likely to go to college.
“If we want to improve the racial or socioeconomic diversity of our colleges and beyond, these are the kids who have the best shot at doing so, and yet our schools are letting them down,” said Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, which published the Ohio study, as Hechinger reported.—Karen D'Souza
Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 10:11 am
More than a third of families with young children struggle to find child care when adults need to work, according to a new poll conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The poll also found that in the past few months, 44% of households with children under age 18 have been facing serious financial problems. As NPR reported, that number jumps to 63% for Black families and 59% for Latino households.
Even as Congress debates a spending package that would aim to expand child care and the child tax credit and provide universal pre-kindergarten, American families can’t afford the child care they need to be able to work outside the home. And that’s only if they are lucky enough to be able to find a slot in one of the country’s many child care “deserts,” where children vastly outnumber available slots.
While families have long grappled with the child care crisis, only recently has it emerged in the national economic discourse.
“The free market works well in many different sectors, but child care is not one of them,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in her remarks about a recent report on the grim state of child care. “Those who provide child care aren’t paid well, and many who need it can’t afford it.”—Karen D'Souza
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 7:38 pm
Link copied.CSU Monterey Bay president to retire
California State University, Monterey Bay President Eduardo Ochoa plans to retire on June 30, 2022, ending a decadelong career in the position and nearly 40 years of working in the CSU system.
“CSUMB has come a long way in the last 10 years,” he said, in a statement Monday to the campus community. “While I am honored to have the opportunity to be its president during that time, none of that progress would have occurred if not for the dedication, commitment, and excellence of our faculty, staff and administrators.”
In his time as president, Ochoa said the graduation rate for incoming, first-year students increased from 30% to 60%.
“During his time leading CSUMB, the campus has experienced unprecedented gains in four-year graduation rates for first-year students and two-year completion rates for transfer students,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said. ” Those graduates go on to make an indelible impact on Monterey County and throughout California. As a champion for higher education and a policymaker at the national level President Ochoa brought a unique perspective that he shared with his fellow CSU presidents and me. Tens of thousands of students at CSUMB, and indeed millions of students throughout the CSU have benefitted from his broad experience and wise guidance.”
—Ashley A. Smith
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 1:59 pm
Link copied.U.S. Department of Education issues handbook to help schools address students’ mental health needs
Calling the student mental health crisis “critical,” the U.S. Department of Education released a detailed guidebook Tuesday to help schools improve students’ social and emotional well-being.
The 100-page guide identifies challenges — including funding shortfages and perceived stigmas associated with mental illness — and recommendations. It also offers advice on how schools can use their federal Covid money to hire more counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists and take other steps to improve students’ mental health.
“Our efforts as educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science, and other core subjects to include helping students to build the social, emotional, and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and participate in learning and make the most of their potential and future opportunities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said.—Carolyn Jones
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 10:07 am
First lady Jill Biden, in an interview aired Tuesday on CBS’s “Mornings,” called on state legislators and governors to increase teachers’ pay to reduce a nationwide teacher shortage.
“They have to give more money to teachers; it’s just the bottom line,” said Biden, a former public school teacher.
Biden was interviewed alongside the recipients of the 2020 and 2021 National Teacher of the Year awards. The awardees were honored by the president and first lady on Monday at the White House.
“The emotional labor, the physical labor, the amount of extra work and things we had to learn have not been fairly compensated,” said Tabatha Rosproy, a Kansas preschool teacher who was named 2020 National Teacher of the Year.—Ali Tadayon
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 9:43 am
Link copied.Recall election to be held in February for three San Francisco Unified school board members
Three of San Francisco Unified’s seven school board members will be up for recall in a special election to be held Feb. 15, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
City officials announced Monday that the campaign to recall President Gabriela Lopez, Vice President Faauuga Molida and Commissioner Alison Collins had gathered enough valid signatures to put the decision to voters. The Chronicle noted this will be the first local San Francisco recall election since 1983, when then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein beat a recall effort.
The recall effort was launched by San Francisco Unified parents frustrated that schools remained closed last school year despite private schools reopening, according to the Chronicle. City and county officials also called on Collins to resign over what they said were anti-Asian tweets from 2016.—Ali Tadayon
Monday, October 18, 2021, 10:27 am
A grassroots parents’ group opposed to California’s vaccine mandate for children is planning a protest outside the state Capitol in Sacramento today.
The group, called Our Kids, Our Choice, is fighting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Oct. 1 order that all students in California schools — public, private and charter — be vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine is approved for children. The Covid vaccine would join 10 other vaccines, such as mumps, polio and tetanus, that the state requires children to receive before starting school.
The protest is slated for 10 a.m. to noon. Scheduled speakers include Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Granite Bay, who was among the Republicans competing to unseat Newsom in last month’s unsuccessful recall election.
“We believe it is in our best interest as a society to maintain freedom of choice for what we put into our children’s bodies and our own,” organizers state on the group’s website. “We oppose efforts to take away our parental freedom to protect our children and make decisions in our children’s best interest.”—Carolyn Jones
Monday, October 18, 2021, 10:25 am
Here’s an offer that only the most fervent anti-vaxxer may resist. Ten San Franciscans from ages 12 to 17 who get a Covid vaccination will be eligible for a full four-year tuition to San Francisco State University.
San Francisco State President Lynn Mahoney conceived of the lottery both to encourage students to enroll and to support public health. “First and foremost, young San Franciscans should be thinking about college,” Mahoney told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could incentivize college-going?”
The free ride is worth $30,000 at the current price of $7,444 in tuition. That’s worth nearly $30,000 at current prices, or $7,444 a year, for students who would otherwise pay out of pocket. Applicants who qualify for federal Pell Grants and state Cal Grants won’t have to pay the difference if they win. Winners whose tuition and fees are fully covered by grants will get an additional $2,000 a year.
Already eligible are the 90% of the city’s 12- to 17-year-olds who are vaccinated. They can enter the sweepstakes on six dates at certain vaccination sites the city is operating in schools and community centers. Winners will be randomly chosen. More information can be found here.
The lottery is a joint effort of the university, the city of San Francisco and San Francisco Unified.—John Fensterwald
Friday, October 15, 2021, 2:56 pm
The nation’s 13-year-olds are less proficient in math and reading than they were almost a decade ago, according to newly released data collected just before the start of the pandemic.
It’s the first time these scores — collected as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ long-term trend study — have dropped in either subject in the 50-year history of the test, as Politico reported. To make matters worse, the report also revealed that the students, ages 9 and 13, who struggle the most with the exam, often referred to as the nation’s report card, have fallen even further behind. Some experts say this suggests that the learning loss triggered by the pandemic may well be dire.
The bottom line is that math scores fell furthest among students whose performance ranked in the 10th and 25th percentiles, meaning that test takers with the lowest math scores in 2020 did worse than the students who struggled the most when the test was last administered in 2012. The data also reveals that the achievement gap between white and Black test-takers widened.
“It’s really a matter for national concern, this high percentage of students who are not reaching even what I think we’d consider the lowest levels of proficiency,” said George Bohrnstedt, a senior vice president and institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research, as the LA School Report noted.
In another grim takeaway, a lower percentage of 13-year-olds reported regularly reading for fun almost every day than the share of students who said they did so a decade ago. Students who said they read, researchers noted, generally got higher scores.
Pedro Noguera, dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, said the results reflect the opportunity gap between low-income Black and Latino students and their more privileged peers. The disadvantaged students’ districts are still too often focused on standardized test prep, he suggested, which can actually lead to poorer performance.
“We need to make learning more compelling and more interesting to kids. We need to get them more deeply engaged,” Noguera said, as Politico reported. “That’s how we create self-motivated learners. That’s how we lift these scores.”—Karen D'Souza
Friday, October 15, 2021, 2:53 pm
Link copied.Supporters of Sacramento teacher who discussed Antifa with his class want him reinstated
Supporters of a Sacramento teacher, who Natomas Unified leaders say will be fired for discussing Antifa with his class, are asking him to be reinstated, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Antifa is an anti-racist and anti-racist political movement.
The conservative group, Project Veritas, filmed the Inderkum High School teacher, Gabriel Gipe, talking to his students about becoming revolutionaries. Gipe also had political signs in the classroom and was stamping his students’ work with images of Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro and Kim Jung Un, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
A statement from the district said that Gipe had violated the Education Code and was teaching pro-communism ideology in class.
Civil rights attorney Mark Mervin said the district made this decision without due process.—EdSource staff
Friday, October 15, 2021, 11:02 am
Link copied.California Teachers of the Year named
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has named the 2022 California Teachers of the Year.
Alondra Diaz will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition in the spring. Diaz is a third-grade teacher at Ralph A. Gates Elementary School, a dual immersion school in the Saddleback Valley Unified District.
The other four Teachers of the Year are Nichi Avina, a middle school science teacher at Cielo Vista Charter School in the Palm Springs Unified School District in Riverside County; Sovantevy Long-Latteri, a special education teacher at La Sierra High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District in Orange County; Tiffany Jokerst, a high school math and engineering teacher at West Hills High School in the Grossmont Union High School District in San Diego County; and Virginia Vasquez, an AP language and composition teacher at San Gabriel High School in the Alhambra Unified School District in Los Angeles County.
“In what may be the toughest ever time for California families, students and educators, these five innovative and caring teachers have made profound differences in the lives of their students and communities,” Thurmond said in a statement. “I’m proud that these educators are receiving this prestigious honor for their continued effort to connect with students even during unimaginable circumstances, to address their needs, and support them in any way they can.”
The five teachers were selected by Thurmond after a California Department of Education selection committee reviewed applications, interviewed teachers and evaluated their teaching abilities. The teachers were nominated by their county offices of education.
The program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage and inspire new teachers to enter the profession, according to the Department of Education.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, October 14, 2021, 2:24 pm
Sacramento City Unified became the latest California school district to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for its staff and students Tuesday night.
The district of nearly 48,000 students joins Culver City Unified, West Contra Costa Unified, Oakland Unified, Piedmont Unified, San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified in requiring vaccines for eligible students and staff ahead of the state mandate that begins next summer.
The district will require all students age 12 and older to receive the vaccination as a condition of being on campus. Those who aren’t willing to be vaccinated will have to enroll in the district’s independent study program.
Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for those 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine also has emergency authorization for use in children between the ages of 12 and 16.
“A vaccine requirement is the path forward to keeping our schools open and increasing immunity,” said Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. “As superintendent of Sac City Unified, I wake up every morning feeling the anxieties caused by this unprecedented pandemic and its threat to meeting the academic, social, emotional, nutritional and other needs of our students. For so many of our students, schools are their safe haven, and I thank the board for their approval of this resolution based on our commitment to meeting those student needs.”
The school board voted to require all eligible students and staff to show proof of vaccination, either first or second dose, by Nov. 30.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, October 14, 2021, 12:21 pm
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the co-chairs who will lead a new task force to improve Black student achievement.
The task force, which will eventually include parents and community groups, will produce a report that is expected to be used to shape legislation to fund professional development for teachers and resources for Black students.
The task force will look at issues like diversifying the teacher workforce, reducing chronic absenteeism, addressing segregation in school districts and reducing suspensions and expulsions, Thurmond said.
The co-chairs of the task force include Pedro Noguera, dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California; Tyrone Howard, director of the UCLA Center for Transformation of Schools; Desiree Carver-Thomas, a researcher at the Learning Policy Institute; Kelly Lytle Hernandez, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Joseph Johnson, executive director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation at the San Diego State University Research Foundation.
The state has millions of dollars available for diversifying the teacher workforce, community schools and anti-racism grants, Thurmond said.
“Now is the moment for us to do this work to close learning gaps for Black students,” he said.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, October 14, 2021, 9:39 am
Link copied.African American Policy Forum calls for educator ‘Day of Action’ for George Floyd’s birthday
To commemorate George Floyd on what would have been his birthday Thursday, the African American Policy Forum is holding a national “Day of Action” for educators to teach about structural racism and oppression.
The national social justice think tank issued a toolkit with suggestions for educators, as well as parents, students and organizers for the day of action. The group suggests educators choose lessons from the Black Lives Matter at School curriculum guide, the Zinn’s Education Project’s #TeachTruth Syllabus, or the National Education Association’s Racial Justice Resources. Educators can also plan a “virtual field trip” to the Legacy Museum, the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, or other sites.
Educators are also invited to publicly declare their intent to teach antiracist lessons and wear a Black Lives Matter at School shirt or all-black shirt.
Students are encouraged to speak to their local school board to express support for antiracist lessons on history and current events, work with their teachers to prepare a lesson that “decolonizes the curriculum,” post a video on TikTok or Instagram saying what learning “authentic history” means to them and wear a Black Lives Matter at School shirt or all-black shirt.—Ali Tadayon
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 11:15 am
Link copied.Anti-mask group sues San Diego Unified
A group that has lobbied against mask mandates is now suing the San Diego Unified School District over its requirement that all students 16 and older be vaccinated against Covid-19 by Dec. 20.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the lawsuit was filed by Let Them Choose, a project of the anti-mask group Let Them Breathe.
“Keeping healthy children out of the classroom is contrary to California law, is not necessary to reduce cases of Covid-19 in schools, and is not in the best interest of students, parents, or school districts,” the lawsuit says.
For the time being, the district is only requiring students 16 and older to be vaccinated. Younger students will be required to get vaccinated after the vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration for their age groups, as also required now by a state mandate.—Zaidee Stavely
Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 11:14 am
About 130 colleges and universities in California no longer require SAT or ACT tests for admission in fall 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After the University of California removed the requirement for test scores for admission in 2020, many other colleges and universities followed.
Some of the universities made this decision temporarily, in part because of the pandemic. However, some groups are hoping that some institutions will stop requiring the tests permanently, arguing that the admissions process is fairer without them.
The number of colleges and universities that do not require standardized test scores has grown in recent years. In 2005, just eight institutions nationwide did not require students to release their standardized test scores. In 2021, there are about 1,780.—Zaidee Stavely
Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 12:40 pm
With thousands of teachers and other staff still unvaccinated, the Los Angeles Unified School District has extended its deadline for all workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by one month.
The district, by far the largest in the state, changed the deadline from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We don’t want people to be out of jobs,” Megan Reilly, the district’s interim superintendent, told the Times. “Our employees are one of the strongest assets that we have.”
Reilly added, though, that the district is “absolutely adamant about keeping our schools the safest possible environment — and vaccinations are clearly the pathway to keeping them safe.”—Michael Burke
Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 12:39 pm
Enrollment at San Francisco Unified has declined by 3,500 in the past two years, which could translate to a $35 million decline in state funding, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In a report to the school board that will be presented Tuesday, district officials wrote that “enrollment declines have been a widespread phenomenon, and demographic trends in SF do not point to a large, near-term increase in children. We need to establish program capacities based on current reality by looking holistically. Capacities determine staffing needs and student seats, and should reflect our new normal of enrollment levels.”
The Chronicle noted that trends in San Francisco don’t suggest that the enrollment trends will reverse. During the pandemic, the city saw a 17% drop in the number of babies born compared with the previous year, the newspaper reported.—Michael Burke
Monday, October 11, 2021, 2:25 pm
Ed100, the nonprofit organization that educates California parents and students on state education policies, is turning a successful annual summer institute into a year-round program for high school students. And it’s inviting adult allies to help recruit students from every high school in California to participate in the program and become advocates for students.
For the past two summers, Ed100 has held a week-long leadership institute for hundreds of student leaders on issues that are on their minds, with presentations by some of the state’s top education leaders, including sessions from peers on how to effect change and make a difference. Next year’s conference will be June 20-22. Aspiring school leaders can network and pick up leadership skills. EdSource is one of the sponsors.
The free, year-long Ed100 Leadership Academy will include monthly online discussions on topics of interest, and participation in an Ed100 Academy platform on Discord, a student-moderated platform that helps students share views and exchange information about opportunities and projects.
Students can learn more and apply here. Students 13 and over from private, charter and district schools are eligible. Students who participate will receive a certificate that shows proof of civic involvement, which may be required for a civics couse.
Adults are needed to encourage students – at least one from every high school grade – to apply to the Leadership Academy. Adult allies of the academy can be anyone who works with high school students or high school communities — an administrator, teacher, counselor or school volunteer. Those nominated by a student member will be invited to attend the summer institute. Adults can learn more and sign up here.—John Fensterwald
Friday, October 8, 2021, 1:13 pm
Two parents were convicted Friday on bribery and fraud charges in connection with a scheme in which they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their children fraudulently admitted as athletic recruits to U.S. universities.
A federal jury in Boston found former casino executive Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson guilty, according to The New York Times. Abdelaziz was accused of paying $300,000 to get his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California in 2018 as a basketball recruit and Wilson was accused of paying $220,000 for his to be admitted to the same university as a water polo recruit in 2014.
The two men were the first to stand trial in the scandal, which extended to dozens of other parents, coaches and administrators who worked to get students admitted to a number of universities. Rather than going to trial, many of those other parents have pleaded guilty.—Michael Burke
Friday, October 8, 2021, 12:41 pm
San Jose State President Mary Papazian announced Thursday that she would resign at the end of the fall term on Dec. 21. Her resignation comes days after the university reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over a sexual harassment case involving an athletic trainer, Scott Shaw. Student-athletes said Shaw abused them for years.
“The best interest of the campus continues to be at the forefront of every decision I make,” Papazian said, in a statement. “After thoughtful consideration, I have made the decision to step away as president. I truly love this university and believe this choice will allow the focus to be positively and solely on our talented, diverse, and outstanding campus. It has been my great honor and privilege to work with the exceptional SJSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners.”
The DOJ report found that the university failed to investigate Shaw’s actions and retaliated against employees that tried to protect students.
Papazian, in her statement, said that the health and safety of the campus remains a priority and that she would continue to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation surrounding Shaw.
“This transition does not impact our intention and obligation to understand what occurred and how the university responded at the time,” Papazian said. “I made a promise to our community and to the affected student-athletes and their families, and I plan to honor it. My heart, apologies and prayers continue to be with those student-athletes who suffered a breach of trust during their time at the university.”—Ashley A. Smith
Thursday, October 7, 2021, 11:52 am
Pfizer and BioNTech have officially requested that the U.S. Government allow children ages 5 to 11 to be given its Covid-19 vaccine, Pizer announced in a Tweet this morning.
If the Federal Drug Administration approves its application children could begin getting immunized within the month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Pfizer reported last month that company data showed its Covid-19 vaccine to be safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11. The FDA will convene a panel of experts to debate the evidence on Oct. 26.
Younger children given two doses — each a third the strength of adult doses — develop the same virus-fighting antibody levels as older people who were given full doses of the vaccine, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although children are at lower risk of severe illness or death than adults, children’s cases have risen sharply since the return to school this fall amid the more contagious delta variant.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, October 7, 2021, 11:40 am
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has launched the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education.
The council will host seminars, develop a speakers bureau and identify resources to teach California students about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide, as wells as how to respond to anti-Semitism and bigotry, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The governor made the announcement during a visit to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
“We find ourselves in a moment of history where hate pervades the public discourse,” Newsom said. “National surveys have indicated a shocking decline in awareness among young people about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. But in California, we are offering an antidote to the cynicism that this is how things are, and responding to that hate the best way we know how — with education and empathy.”
The council, led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Sen. Henry Stern, is made up of state officials and legislators. Academics, advocates and community organizations are expected to be added to the council in the future.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, October 7, 2021, 9:58 am
In a scenario that has occurred increasingly throughout the country, anti-vaccine protesters harassed students Wednesday at Pinole Valley High School in Pinole before security asked them to leave, according to school officials.
The high school was holding its first all-day student vaccine drive on the campus Wednesday, while a group of fewer than a dozen protesters rallied across the street, said principal Kibby Kleiman. They were shouting at students to not get vaccinated. At around 10:30 a.m., one or two of the protesters went onto the campus. Security quickly told them to leave and the protesters complied, Kleiman said.
Last Tuesday, West Contra Costa Unified approved a vaccine mandate for eligible students, requiring them to get vaccinated by November 15 or else enroll in independent study in order to stay in the district. Around a dozen parents objected to the decision, mostly citing reasons that Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano debunked. The next day, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced all eligible California students and staff will be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as early as January 2022.
Kleiman said the incident Wednesday was minor and didn’t slow down the vaccine drive.
“If they want to stand out there and yell and we can get more people vaccinated I would do it every day,” Kleiman said.
At a school board meeting later that day, board president Mister Phillips issued a stern warning to the protesters:
“If you come on to campuses and harass our children, you will go to jail.”
Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 3:40 pm
Link copied.As students with disabilities return to classrooms, Education Department updates guidance
Schools must continue providing high-quality services to students with disabilities, regardless of whether those students are learning at school, at home or a combination of both, according to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
The detailed, 41-page guidance covers everything from mask requirements to parent meetings for individualized education programs, which set academic and developmental goals for students enrolled in special education.
“No matter what primary instructional delivery approach is used, (districts) remain responsible for ensuring that a free, appropriate public education is available to all children with disabilities,” according to the guidance. “Therefore, before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the (district) must ensure that each child with a disability has access to educational opportunities, including all special education and related services.”
The guidance also covers services provided during school breaks, technology that helps students learn, mental health and other topics.—Carolyn Jones
Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 1:36 pm
The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that it would overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to include more eligible workers. The changes over the next year would put more than 550,000 public service workers closer to loan forgiveness.
“Borrowers who devote a decade of their lives to public service should be able to rely on the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, in a news release. “Teachers, nurses, first responders, servicemembers, and so many public service workers have had our back especially amid the challenges of the pandemic. Today, the Biden Administration is showing that we have their backs, too.”
The department will temporarily allow all payments borrowers made on federal student loans to count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, regardless of the loan program or payment.
To qualify, borrowers must make 120 on-time monthly payments for 10 years to have the remaining balance canceled. They must also work for the government or qualifying nonprofit organizations, and be enrolled in specific repayment plans.
Although the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program has been around since 2007, it has been criticized for allowing too few borrowers to receive forgiveness. And too many do not receive credit for years of payments they made because of complicated eligibility rules.—Ashley A. Smith
Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 10:27 am
California’s new mandate for all eligible students to be vaccinated against Covid-19 once the FDA gives full approval has a big loophole — it allows students to be exempted based on “personal belief.”
Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento, a Democrat and pediatrician who chairs the Senate Health Committee, is considering legislation to remove that exemption, according to CalMatters.
Pan has championed legislation in the past that removed personal belief exemptions from all other required vaccines for school.
“The problem with the personal belief exemption is that if there are too many people who use it, we’ll have schools that are unsafe,” Pan said. “We need to be sure kids can stay in school and learn and not have to be sent home for two weeks.”—Zaidee Stavely
Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 10:22 am
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is directing the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices to meet with local law enforcement agencies to discuss strategies to address an increase in violence and harassment of school officials, teachers and staff, according to NPR.
The National School Boards Association wrote a six-page letter to President Biden last week, showing an increase in threats and acts of violence at school board meetings in several states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Texas and Virginia. Most of the violence was related to school mask mandates.
Garland is also calling for a task force to determine how federal law enforcement can prosecute such crimes, and training and guidance for school boards and administrators on how to identify threats and report to law enforcement.—Zaidee Stavely
Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 1:38 pm
A new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday requires all state-subsidized preschool programs to identify the languages children speak at home and the language spoken by program staff.
The bill, AB 1363, authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas, D-North Hollywood, requires preschool programs that receive state funds to serve low-income children to identify the language spoken at home of every child enrolled, as well as the languages used in the classroom and spoken by the preschool teachers.
In addition, the bill requires programs to show they support children in developing both their home language and English in order to be considered a “quality” program by the state.
“Over 60 percent of California’s students come from a home where English is not the primary language, and today we are taking decisive action to strengthen our bilingual students’ early learning opportunities,” Rivas said. “With the governor’s signing of AB 1363, California leads the nation in education policy once more by becoming the first state to create a standardized process that identifies and supports K-12 dual language learners at an early age.”
The identification of preschoolers’ home languages and how well their preschool programs are meeting their language needs was one of the priorities set forth in California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.—Zaidee Stavely
Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 1:15 pm
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation today improving access to child care for migrant farmworkers at a press conference held at an elementary school in Fresno.
Long a champion of early childhood education, Newsom also touted the transformative nature of the state’s new universal transitional kindergarten program, which will be fully rolled out by 2025, the state’s plan to seed college savings accounts of up to $1,500 for low-income students, English learners and foster and homeless youth and plans to reach out to dual language learners.
“In California, we are committed to transforming our public schools to promote equity, inclusivity and opportunity for every student,” Newsom said. “Building upon this year’s historic budget investments in universal pre-K and college savings accounts, these bills will improve access to a good education for children across California so that every child can thrive, regardless of their race, language spoken at home or zip code.”
SB 393, introduced by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, aligns the Migrant Child Care Alternative Payment program with other voucher programs, a move which will streamline access to child care subsidies for migrant farmworkers.
“Governor Newsom’s historic policies advancing early learning for our youngest Californians are a game changer,” said Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California. “They bring California closer than ever to providing equity for all in education.”
Most of these programs represent an attempt to remedy the state’s ever-widening achievement gap, which has only grown during the pandemic as existing economic disparities deepen.
“This is a determination to address not the achievement gap, but the real gap that persists, that’s the readiness gap,” Newsom said. “People are not left behind. They start behind.”—Karen D'Souza
Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 12:06 pm
California’s state superintendent is intervening in San Francisco Unified to help the district address a budget shortfall, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The state plans to bring in a fiscal consultant to help the district cut 13% of its annual budget, and the district will have to submit labor agreements to Tony Thurmond, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, according to the Chronicle.
The state will also require San Francisco Unified to withhold pay from Superintendent Vince Matthews and school board members over a “failure to provide requested financial information,” the newspaper reported.
“We acknowledge that the district is working to identify strategic solutions for resolving the projected budget shortfalls,” Thurmond wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to Matthews. “However, reductions have yet to be identified after a year of discussion.”—Michael Burke