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California education news: What’s the latest?

Thursday, November 4, 2021, 10:55 am

Link copied.Former Bakersfield College student who wrote poem critical of immigration policies now wanted as homicide suspect

A former Bakersfield College student who drew national attention in 2019 when he read his poem titled “Dear America” that was critical of the country’s immigration policies is now a suspect in a homicide in Tulare County, The Bakersfield Californian is reporting.

Jose Bello read the poem at a public meeting and was arrested 36 hours later by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on allegations of drunken driving. His case drew national media attention.

Students protested, more than 100 college professors around the country wrote letters objecting to the arrest and the ACLU of Southern California represented Jose Bello in a lawsuit that claimed the arrest was political retaliation for his criticism of the federal agency. Two NFL players even paid his bail.

But now Bello, 24,  is a suspect in a Tulare County homicide of a 53-year-old man found dead in an orchard near Porterville last month, the newspaper reported. Two other men also were arrested. Bello remains at large. His full name is reported as Jose Omar Bello Reyes.

In 2018, Bello and his brother had been arrested by ICE  on suspicion of gang membership and deported to Mexico, but they reentered the county. Bello claimed ICE agents had confused him with someone else. Bakersfield College students and faculty rallied around him when he returned to the school.

 

Thomas Peele

Thursday, November 4, 2021, 10:29 am

Link copied.Study shows 1.55 million California households with access to broadband can’t afford the service

A new study that’s part of a push to bring broadband internet to low-income American households shows 1.55 million California families that have access to the service can’t afford to pay for it.

The “broadband affordability gap makes up 63% of California’s digital divide,” the San Francisco nonprofit Education Superhighway is reporting.

The federal government is pushing $20 billion in broadband affordability programs, but only 19% of households in California who are eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program have enrolled, the organization said.

It is pushing its No Home Left Offline program, which calls for free Wi-Fi in low-income apartment buildings and urges low-income people to enroll in federal programs for free internet.

 

EdSource staff

Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 11:29 am

Link copied.California can now vaccinate children ages 5 to 11

California is now able to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 after the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup signed off on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children Tuesday night.

The work group, a regional collaborative group of scientists from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, reviewed the federal process and unanimously concluded that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. The group’s approval was the final step needed to begin administering the vaccine for children of that age group. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control signed off on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

“I urge families to get the facts on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and take action to protect themselves and loved ones from Covid-19, especially as we head into the winter months,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

Counties throughout the state have been stocking the vaccine in anticipation of the work group’s approval, and vaccine clinics will open at school campuses, pharmacies and health centers.

Ali Tadayon

Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 9:33 am

Link copied.California families could save thousands under Biden child tax plan

President Joe Biden’s plan to continue the child tax credit expansion for another year may mean a savings of thousands of dollars for the millions of California families who make less than $151,100, as the Sacramento Bee reported.

The plan, which would help an estimated 8.16 million California children, is part of a $1.75 trillion framework Biden unveiled Thursday. The child tax credit was increased earlier this year, but for one year only. The plan allows qualifying families with children aged 6 to 17 to get a tax credit of $3,000 per child a year. Those with children under 6 can receive $3,600.

The credit has been “refundable,” meaning that if the credit is larger than the tax someone is supposed to pay, the government will make up the difference. This framework would make refundability permanent.

The White House had initially hoped to continue the expanded child tax credit through 2025, but that plan was cut in an effort to appease moderates. If nothing is done, the credit will revert to its former level, a maximum of $2,000 per child under 17, as the Bee noted, and the benefit would be reduced or ended entirely for many low-income families.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 9:31 am

Link copied.Kindergartners in low-income schools exercise less and wait more, study shows

Kindergartners attending schools where many students come from low-income families get less physical activity and spend more time waiting in line than their peers in higher-income schools, as Chalkbeat reported.

The findings come from a new study that examines the kindergarten experience in 82 classrooms in an unnamed urban district. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborated on the study, which was published in the August issue of Educational Researcher.

In the lower-income schools, 93% of students were eligible for subsidized meals — a measure of poverty — compared with 15% of students in the higher-income schools. Also, the lower-income schools had mostly Black and Latino students while the higher-income students had more white students.

Kindergartners in lower-income schools had more seat time, received more whole-class instruction and, on average, got 18 minutes of physical education, recess or classroom-based physical activity per day. They also had fewer opportunities to choose their own activities than their peers in higher-income schools.

By contrast, kindergartners in higher-income schools had more time in small groups and on average got 44 minutes a day of physical activity.

The study lands just as many schools are under pressure to ensure students regain ground lost during the pandemic despite widening economic disparity. Mimi Engel, lead author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, as Chalkbeat noted, said lower staffing levels in the kindergarten classrooms of lower-income schools may well have contributed to the differences.

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 5:43 pm

Link copied.Vaccinations for California kids ages 5 to 11 could begin this week

California kids ages 5 to 11 could be able to get Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of the week.

Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 earlier today, the final federal step for its emergency use authorization, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier today vaccine advisors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted unanimously to approve the vaccine after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use Friday.

Clinical trials of the vaccine showed that the vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children  ages 5 to 11.

Now California will wait for the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a regional collaborative of scientists from several states including California, to make a recommendation about the vaccine — a process that is expected to take a few days.

State officials have said they would be ready to begin vaccinating children as soon the recommendation is given. Vaccination clinics will open on school campuses to vaccinate children and vaccines are expected to be available in doctor’s offices and through county clinics and at pharmacies.

Los Angeles Unified plans to begin offering the vaccination on Nov. 8 through its mobile vaccination teams and Nov. 16 at school-based clinics. The vaccines are voluntary for this age group and not part of the district’s current vaccine requirement.

The pediatric vaccine will be given in two doses 21 days apart, like the adult and adolescent doses. But the doses will only be 10 micrograms — or a third the amount of the adult dose.

California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said he expects 1.2 million doses of the vaccine will be available for children ages 5 to 11.

Counties across the state have been stocking the vaccine in anticipation of its approval and many are planning health clinics to vaccinate kids.

Contra Costa County is expecting initial demand for the vaccine to be high and expects to begin offering the vaccine at county-run clinics by Nov. 6, according to a press release.

“I know a lot of parents have been waiting a long time to be able to get their younger kids vaccinated,” said Diane Burgis, chairwoman of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “We’re almost there. If everything goes right, parents will be able to get their children fully vaccinated before the winter holidays.”

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 4:31 pm

Link copied.Contra Costa County saw 3% drop in enrollments in 2020-2021 — 5,385 fewer students

After steady growth in students for more than a decade, Contra Costa County saw a county-wide enrollment drop in the 2020-21 school year, according to a the County Office of Education’s 2020-21 annual report released Tuesday.

Between 2007-08 and 2019-20, enrollment in the county’s non-charter schools and the non-charter schools of its 18 school districts grew from 166,772 to 178,406. Enrollment declined no more than 400 students from year to year during that time.

But in the 2020-21 school year, enrollment dropped 5,385 students to 173,021 — more than a 3% decline.

Contra Costa County’s student decline is only slightly more than that of the state; last year, California lost 160,000 students, or 2.6% of its enrollment. Demographers are predicting a decade-long enrollment decline in California, and fiscal experts are encouraging districts to plan for what could be a substantial loss of revenue. The California Department of Finance is projecting an 11.4% decline in statewide enrollment  from 2019-20 figures by 2031.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 3:19 pm

Link copied.Centers for Disease Control approval brings Covid vaccine for kids one step closer

Vaccine advisors to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, according to CNN.

On Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11, saying that clinical trials of the vaccine showed that the vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children in children ages 5 to 11.

Only one step remains before Covid vaccinations can begin for children in the United States — CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must sign off on the vaccines. The doctor has indicated she plans to do so, according to the news report.

California is prepared to begin vaccinating children as soon as Walensky gives the vaccine her final approval. State officials say they have met with officials at more than 1,000 school districts in anticipation of opening vaccine clinics on school campuses. California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said he expects 1.2 million doses of the vaccine will be available for children in that age group.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 10:49 am

Link copied.Report: California still sees widespread Islamophobia in schools

A survey released Thursday of Muslim students in California shows high levels of Islamophobic bullying, harassment and discrimination occurred not only during remote learning but also after their return to school.

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations surveyed 708 students in grades 5 through 12 between January 2021 and August 2021. The survey was conducted by CAIR’s four California offices serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the Sacramento Valley and Central California regions, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Areas. About 891 individuals responded to the survey, of which 708 were eligible for the study.

Though the switch to remote learning resulted in a decrease in bullying, more than half of respondents reported feeling unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable upon their return to school because of their Muslim identity.

The survey also found that about a third of respondents experienced or witnessed cyberbullying and seeing classmates make offensive comments on social media about Islam or Muslims. About one in four students reported that a teacher, administrator or other adult at their school made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims.

About 30% of Female respondents reported that their Hijab was tugged, pulled or offensively  touched.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 10:14 am

Link copied.Cause of gas odor that prompted Richmond school evacuations still unknown

Authorities are still investigating what may have caused the gas odor that prompted Richmond High School to evacuate twice last week.

About 2,400 students at Richmond High, Peres Elementary and Ford Elementary in Richmond were sent home Oct. 25 due to a potential gas leak. They returned to school the next day. On Thursday, Richmond High evacuated again after people noticed a smell of gas in the air. PG&E tested the air quality and determined it was safe for students.

District spokesman Ryan Phillips said local authorities have not yet determined what may have been causing the gas odors. Because of that, it’s unclear whether students will be evacuated again this week.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, November 1, 2021, 11:13 am

Link copied.Planned windowless dorm at UC Santa Barbara stirs controversy

A Los Angeles architect resigned from UC Santa Barbara’s design review committee over a proposed 11-story dormitory that would house nearly all its 4,500 occupants in small rooms that lack windows, the Washington Post reported.

The proposed dorm is “unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being,” architect Dennis McFadden wrote in his resignation letter.

The dorm was designed by Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, who is donating $200 million of the $1.5 billion cost, according to the report. Munger has no formal architectural training, but he has worked on similar projects at Stanford and the University of Michigan.

A university spokeswoman said the project is still on track despite McFadden’s protest.

“We are delighted to be moving forward with this transformational project that directly addresses the campus’s great need for more student housing,” spokeswoman Andrea Estrada wrote in a statement to the Post.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, November 1, 2021, 10:52 am

Link copied.State renews contract with troubled Covid testing lab

California renewed its contract on Sunday with a Covid testing laboratory that’s been under scrutiny for lost or invalid test results, slow turnaround and other “significant deficiencies,” according to CalMatters.

An estimated 1,600 schools in California rely on Valencia Branch Lab, operated by PerkinElmer, for Covid testing. After complaints from whistleblowers about lax conditions at the lab, state health inspectors conducted an investigation and found that the lab posed “the most severe and egregious threat to the health and safety of recipients,” according to the report. The full investigation, which was due in March, has not yet been released.

Sami Gallegos, California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson, told CalMatters that the state will continue monitoring the lab but has no immediate plans to terminate the $1.7 billion contract.

“The state plans to continue to have the Valencia Branch Laboratory operational to ensure that we have adequate testing capabilities going into the winter months,” Gallagos said. “We will continue to evaluate our need for the laboratory as we do with all aspects of our response.”

Carolyn Jones

Friday, October 29, 2021, 1:41 pm

Link copied.FDA approves Pfizer Covid vaccine for children for emergency use

The federal Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11 this morning, opening the door for vaccinations to begin.

Before that can happen advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet next week to discuss making further clinical recommendations, according to the FDA.

Clinical trials of the vaccine showed that the vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children in children ages 5 to 11, according to the FDA.

“As a mother and a physician, I know that parents, caregivers, school staff, and children have been waiting for today’s authorization. Vaccinating younger children against Covid-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the data pertaining to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards.”

The pediatric vaccine will be given in two doses 21 days apart, like the adult and adolescent doses. But the doses will only be 10 micrograms — or a third the amount of the adult dose.

California is prepared to begin vaccinating children as soon as the final approval comes in. State officials say they have met with officials at more than 1,000 school districts in anticipation of opening vaccine clinics on school campuses. California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said he expects 1.2 million doses of the vaccine will be available for children in that age group.

Diana Lambert

Friday, October 29, 2021, 9:19 am

Link copied.Two Sonoma County high schools closed after social media threat

A threat on social media against a Sonoma County high school prompted school district officials to cancel classes and activities at two high schools on Friday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The threat was made against Laguna High School in the West Sonoma County High School District. The district decided to close both that high school and West County High School in Sebastopol, on the advice of the Sebastopol police.

 

Zaidee Stavely

Friday, October 29, 2021, 9:18 am

Link copied.Pandemic food benefits left unspent could affect schools

Pandemic food benefits for hundreds of thousands of California children were never spent, according to a new state audit. The California Department of Social Services is searching now for those families, according to the Sacramento Bee.

During school closures, the federal government authorized special payments to families with children who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. However, California sent the payments out in a delayed manner.

About 500,000 of the 3.4 million pandemic electronic benefit transfer cards — or P-EBT cards — have not been used at all as of last month, adding up to $182 million in food benefits.

Zaidee Stavely

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 11:34 am

Link copied.Oakland Unified to enforce student vaccine requirement starting Jan. 1

Oakland Unified will require all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Jan. 1, or else enroll in the district’s independent study program.

The district’s enforcement plan, passed by a 4-3 vote at a school board meeting Wednesday, has a quicker timeline than the state’s vaccine mandate. The state mandate allows districts to implement the mandate after the vaccine receives full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for ages 12-15. Currently, the vaccine has emergency use authorization by the FDA for children ages 12-15 and full approval for ages 16 and older.

The district is allowing several exemptions to the mandate, such as for medical reasons or “personal belief.” The district will also allow children 12 and older to come to school after Jan. 1 if they have received both of their shots, even though a person is only considered “fully vaccinated” after two weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine.

Any families who don’t comply will be guaranteed admission into the district’s independent study program.

Ali Tadayon

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 9:57 am

Link copied.U.C. Hastings law school could be renamed as founder’s racist past is reexamined

California’s first law school could be getting a new name as its trustees debate the role of its founder in the slaughter of Native Americans in the 1860s, the New York Times is reporting.

U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco is named for the state’s first chief justice, Serranus Hastings, who in 1878 donated $100,000 in gold coins for its founding. Among its prominent alumni: Vice President Kamala Harris.

But Serranus Hastings, who was also a wealthy rancher, played a significant role in what one expert called “a state-sponsored killing machine” aimed at exterminating California’s Indigenous peoples. At least 283 members of the Yuki Tribe in Mendocino County were killed at Hastings’ behest, a four-year investigation by the law school has found.

But a renaming seems far from certain. The law school’s chancellor and dean, David Faigman, is opposed, and members of the committee that investigated the slaughter said removing Hastings’ name could lead to a “decline in applications and perhaps a loss of philanthropic and alumni support,” the Times reported.

The debate comes as California is reckoning with its history of racism and treatment of minorities. Last year, the University of California regents removed the name “Boalt Hall” from Berkeley’s law school because the man it was named for, John Henry Boalt, was an outspoken racist. Recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill returning oceanfront land in Manhattan Beach to descendants of a Black couple who were stripped of the property more than 100 years ago by city leaders in a blatant effort to drive them from the city.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 9:56 am

Link copied.Desperate school districts turning to TikTok, bus-bench ads, to lure back students

Some public school districts with declining enrollments are using TikTok and other social media and hiring marketing consultants to help bring back students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

At stake is the $10,000 state districts receive for each enrolled student. Declining enrollment because of the pandemic, is decimating local budgets.

“Districts are using radio ads, mailers, bus benches or online ads, while polishing their websites and logos, to help families feel good about the schools,” the newspaper reported.

“Many times, families are making decisions about which is the right school or whether that’s a public school, private school or charter school, with limited information,” said Brian Epperson, CEO of Target River, a marketing firm  that is working with districts in the Bay Area, told the Chronicle.

In Lodi in San Joaquin County, school officials posted  TicTok videos of  a pumpkin art project and a therapy dog working with elementary school students.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 8:28 am

Link copied.California rises to 30th in nation in pre-Covid per-student spending

California continued to move up in state rankings of spending per student, although it remains below the national average, according to the New Jersey-based Education Law Center, which released its annual school financing report Thursday.

In 2018-19, the latest data available, California ranked 30th in the nation, compared with 34th two years ago and 47th in 2012-13, when it and other states were still feeling the impact of the Great Recession. In the latest ranking, California spent $14,174 per student, $940 below the national average of $15,114. The numbers were adjusted for the regional cost of living, which is higher than average in California.

The center cited California not only for investing more money in education, but also doing so with a progressive funding system. Districts with the most low-income children received $1,991 per student more than districts with the least low-income students, the eighth-most progressive funding system, it said.

California was ranked 21st with little difference between the wealthiest and poorest districts in 2013. That was the year that California adopted the Local Control Funding Formula, which supplements funding to districts based on their numbers of English learners and low-income, foster and homeless children. Funding for those high-needs students has increased substantially since then.

However, by a third measure – “funding effort” – how much a state funds preK-12 schools based on its capacity to raise money, California continues to underfund its schools. In 2018-19, it spent 2.88% of the state’s economic activity, or GDP, compared with an average 3.37% nationwide, earning it a “D” rating. The state’s per-capita income was $71,011, compared with $56,830 nationwide.

The state’s spending ranking may continue to rise for several years; California and other states dependent on a progressive income tax saw their revenues rebound quicker from the Covid recession than other states relying on sales and tourism taxes.

The center, a nonprofit advocacy organization in Newark, N.J., based its analysis on U.S. Census Bureau data.

The report criticized “the inaction and even outright hostility” from governors and legislators to invest more in education and provide more funding for high-poverty schools.  “The underfunding of schools is not, as some policymakers would like the public to believe, an unfortunate reality of budget constraints,” said executive director and report co-author David Sciarra.

John Fensterwald

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 4:06 pm

Link copied.Long Beach Unified safety officer charged with murder in shooting of teen mother

The Long Beach Unified school safety officer who shot and killed an 18-year-old mother was charged Wednesday with murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Eddie Gonzalez, 51, was patrolling near Long Beach’s Millikan High School on Sept. 27 when he noticed an altercation between 18-year-old Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez and another teen girl. Footage of the incident showed Rodriguez getting into the rear passenger seat of a nearby car. While the car drove away Gonzalez was seen allegedly firing his handgun at the car.

Rodriguez was struck and was taken to a hospital where she died about a week later. Gonzalez was promptly fired through a unanimous vote by the district’s school board, the Southern California News Group reported.

Ali Tadayon

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 3:38 pm

Link copied.Schools, colleges designated as areas protected from immigration enforcement

Schools, colleges, preschools, day care centers, school bus stops and children’s playgrounds are all named as protected areas where immigration agents should not arrest, search, serve subpoenas or conduct any other enforcement action, according to a new memo from the Department of Homeland Security.

The new policy announced Wednesday restricts immigration and border protection agents from conducting enforcement actions at or near places where people access essential services or activities.

Medical facilities, places of worship, domestic violence shelters, food banks, emergency response centers, funerals and demonstrations are also on the list, which the department made clear was not a complete list of all places that are off-limits.

“We need to consider many factors, including the location in which we are conducting the action and its impact on other people and broader societal interests. For example, if we take an action at an emergency shelter, it is possible that noncitizens, including children, will be hesitant to visit the shelter and receive needed food and water, urgent medical attention, or other humanitarian care,” reads the memo.

Under the Trump administration, there were reports of more enforcement actions at or near schools and other protected areas.

“Over the years, I have met children and families who have shared their fear of carrying out simple everyday activities, like going to the grocery store, playground or even to a doctor’s appointment,” said Wendy Cervantes, director of immigration and immigrant families at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonpartisan anti-poverty organization, in a news release. “All over the country, I encountered stories of immigration agents waiting for parents to drop off kids at school, sometimes forcing children to witness their parents’ arrest at the start of a school day. No child should have to live in constant fear of losing a parent, and this policy will help ensure that immigration enforcement is carried out in a way that does not impede children and families from going about the essential activities in their lives.”

The policy replaces a previous 2011 policy, which was less comprehensive, and used the term “sensitive locations” rather than “protected areas.”

The memo says there are some limited circumstances under which agents can enforce immigration laws at protected areas, such as if there is a national security threat, an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to a person, or a risk that evidence material to a criminal case will be destroyed.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 9:52 am

Link copied.Negotiators near agreement on child care and universal pre-K in Biden package

​​Democrats are closing in on securing agreement on two key components of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, as CNN reported, as they work through details on the universal preschool and child care aspects of the package, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

For Biden, the looming agreement ensures that a central tenet of his sweeping economic and climate proposal will make it into the final package, which over weeks of negotiations has been scaled down from $3.5 trillion to between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion.

The two early education and care proposals are among the larger elements of a final package in terms of funding, although the total expenditure, expected to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, as CNN notes, hasn’t been finalized yet.

The universal prekindergarten proposal would set up a federal-state partnership, offering states funds to expand public preschool programs to reach an estimated 6 million 3- and 4-year-olds not currently enrolled in preschool, the source said.

For the first three years of the funding, states would not have to match any portion of the federal funds as they ramp up their programs. The state-level match would gradually scale up to 40%, the source said.

Negotiators are also getting close on a program offering subsidized child care for low- and middle-income families, the source said. Most families would not have to pay more than 7% of their incomes.

Like the preschool proposal, states would not be required to match federal funds for the first three years, giving them time to ramp up their projects. After three years, states would provide a 10% match to the federal funds, according to CNN.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 9:49 am

Link copied.Digital divide has narrowed but inequity remains, report finds

In the wake of the pandemic, which has drawn attention to the state’s digital divide, inequities in access to devices and connectivity persist, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank. 

Drawing on survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report shows that among California households with children, the biggest gains in access to devices were made by low-income households, households without a bachelor’s degree, and Black and Latino households.

Expanding access to broadband internet was more spotty, the brief suggests, and progress began stalling in spring 2021, leaving major equity gaps in place. Forty-one percent of low-income households still do not have full digital access (defined as access to both the internet and a device). Neither do 37% of Latino households and 29% of Black households.

Affordability and lack of infrastructure remain the key barriers to universal broadband access, the report suggests, noting that it will require ongoing collaborations between federal, state, and local stakeholders to achieve digital equity. That’s critical as online tools for learning become commonplace in an increasingly digital world.

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 3:22 pm

Link copied.FDA panel recommends the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 5 to 11

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, 10:29 am

Link copied.Initiative seeks to allow parents to sue for “high quality education”

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

Link copied.State Auditor Elaine Howle, critic of funding formula spending, to retire

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

Link copied.Several schools closed in Sonoma County due to storm

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

Link copied.Kern County sheriff, short of staff, to pull officers from schools in six districts

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

Link copied.Students find many benefits in running the LA Marathon

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

Link copied.Adults in Clovis boo and jeer student speaking at school board meeting

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

Link copied.Riverside teacher on leave after mimicking Native Americans

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

Link copied.U.S. Department of Education selects two California principals for annual award

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

Link copied.Some early childhood elements in Biden’s infrastructure bill get trimmed

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

Link copied.Free community college dead in Biden spending bill

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

Link copied.Free film available for schools to help students overcome anxiety

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

Link copied.Tuition-free community college reportedly out of White House spending bill

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

Link copied.Los Angeles Unified: Almost all staff have had at least one Covid vaccine dose

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

Link copied.Equity proves elusive in gifted programs, research shows

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

Link copied.1 in 3 families struggle to find child care, poll says

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

Link copied.Jill Biden calls on state legislators, governors to pay teachers more

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

Link copied.Parents’ group protests Covid vaccine mandate in Sacramento

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

Link copied.For a Covid shot, you get a chance for a free ride to San Francisco State

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