California education news: What’s the latest?

Tuesday, July 13, 2021, 3:25pm

Link copied.U.S. Department of Education makes temporary changes to ease Pell Grant process

The U.S. Department of Education is making temporary changes to the federal aid verification process that it says will reduce barriers that prevent students from accessing financial aid.

In a press release, the department said that in a typical year, Pell Grant-eligible students are asked to submit documentation to verify their income, such as transcripts of tax returns. Non-Pell Grant students are not asked to verify their income.

“As a result, the verification process disproportionately burdens students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. The process can be extremely challenging for students, particularly because at least 20 percent of Pell-eligible applicants are exempt from tax filing due to their low-income levels,” the statement from the department reads.

This year, those documents will not be necessary for Pell Grant-eligible students and the department will focus only on identity theft and fraud. The changes will apply to students as they fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the upcoming 2021-22 cycle.

“This has been an exceptionally tough year,” Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), said in a statement. “We need to ensure students have the most straightforward path to acquiring the financial aid they need to enroll in college and continue their path to a degree.

– Michael Burke

Michael Burke

Monday, July 12, 2021, 7:24pm

Link copied.Schools must send home students who refuse to wear a mask, state says

In guidance issued Monday, the California Department of Public Health said that schools “must exclude students from campus” who don’t wear a mask indoors and refuse to wear one that the school provides.

The wording amplifies on the masking requirement that the public health department announced on Friday. The requirement does not apply to students who are exempt from wearing a face covering, under state guidelines. These include children under 2, students with medical or mental health conditions or are hearing impaired or communicating with a hearing impaired person. For students who are excluded for not wearing a mask, schools must provide alternative educational opportunities, the state said.

California’s position differs from the guidance issued Friday by the federal Centers for Disease Control, which said only unvaccinated students and staff would be mandated to wear masks. However, the CDC said states do have the discretion to impose additional protections, as conditions warrant.

California’s mask mandate also applies to adults indoors at schools.

The new guidance explains the reasons for its ruling on masks. Masking, it said, is one of the most effective measures to control the spread of Covid-19 by both aerosols and droplets. It’s vital in schools that cannot maintain the recommended 3-foot physical distancing between individuals and serves as a precaution against the spread of more transmissible variants like the Delta variant and a protection when it’s difficult to identify those who are not vaccinated.

In a statement cited by the California School Boards Association, Ben Chida, the chief deputy cabinet secretary for Gov. Gavin Newsom, acknowledged that the mask requirement may embroil school district leaders in disputes.

“We think that easily implemented and effective measures like masking are a far better option than other, harder-to-implement options,” he said. “In terms of the cultural and political disputes that arise, part of what we’re trying to do is absorb as much of the impact as possible at the state level so that it’s not a local fight.”

John Fensterwald

Monday, July 12, 2021, 5:31pm

Link copied.CalPERS reports big annual return on investments

Buoyed by private investment and stock market gains, CalPERS announced Monday a return of 21.3% on investments for the fiscal year that ended June 30. That return is triple the 7% annual targeted rate of return currently built into CalPERS’ financial assumptions and marks a sharp recovery from an initial drop in stock market values from the impact of Covid-19.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is the nation’s largest public employee pension system, serving more than 2 million employees and retirees, including classified school employees, such as bus drivers, kitchen workers and teacher’s aides. Teachers and school administrators are members of CalSTRS, which will report its yearly financial results toward the end of July.

CalPERS’ investment portfolio rose $80 billion by the end of June to a record value of $469 billion.

CalPERS has struggled since the Great Recession to be in a position to pay its long-term financial obligations to retirees, notwithstanding sharp rate increases imposed on public employers since 2013 legislation. The latest return on investments raises the percentage of assets needed to fully fund obligations from 71% last year to 82%, CalPERS reported.

Theresa Taylor, chair of the CalPERS Investment Committee, cautioned not to expect similar rates of return every year. “But as pleased as we are with these great returns, let me emphasize that we don’t count on this kind of investing environment every year. We know markets go up and down.”

John Fensterwald

Monday, July 12, 2021, 4:37pm

Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified teachers ratify 21-22 contract

West Contra Costa Unified’s teachers union, the United Teachers of Richmond, voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement with the district calling for smaller class sizes and more counselors.

About 95%, of the teachers who voted were in favor of the contract, union officials announced Monday. West Contra Costa Unified’s school board must vote to approve the contract and could do so as early as Wednesday’s school board meeting.

The agreement calls for an average class size for grades TK-3 of 22 students, with a maximum of 23 students. It also mandates an average of 30 students (with a 31 student maximum) for grades 4-8 in elementary schools and also in K-8 schools. Math, English, English language development, social sciences and science classes at middle and high schools will have a maximum of 36 students, with a maximum of 52 students for physical education and 37 for other classes.

The new class-size requirements will result in more than 120 more teachers in classrooms next school year, district officials said Monday.

The contract would allow teachers to volunteer to accept students over their maximum in exchange for a salary increase of 3.5%.

The contract also calls for the hiring of 12 new academic counselors, resulting in a 338:1 student-to-counselor ratio for K-8 and middle schools and a 350:1 student-to-counselor ratio for high schools — down from 700:1. Each comprehensive high school will also have at least one college and career counselor.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, July 12, 2021, 4:21pm

Link copied.California lawmakers strike agreement on broadband budget bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers on Monday announced their plans for how to spend the $6 billion that California is allocating towards broadband in the 2021-22 budget.

Included in the broadband blueprint are plans to expand the state’s internet infrastructure with a particular focus on areas that have historically been unserved or underserved by private internet service providers. Specifically, the bill directs $3.25 billion to build middle-mile broadband lines, which connect the greater highway of broadband service to the last mile, which are end-users.

The bill also sets aside $2 billion for “last-mile” lines in rural and urban areas to connect consumers’ homes and businesses with local networks.

Other directives in the bill include:

  • More vital accountability and legislative oversight;
  • Creating a “broadband czar” and nine-member council within the California Department of Technology;
  • Hiring a third party to build and maintain the “middle-mile network” — high-capacity fiber lines that carry large amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks.

“This broadband package is historic,” Newsom said on Monday in a prepared statement. “It transcends politics, and it will be a legacy project that will benefit generations of rural and urban residents alike. This legislation will yield vital, broadened access for California families by prioritizing the unserved and underserved areas, facilities, households, and businesses that remain disconnected in the digital era.”

The plans are detailed in AB 156, known as the broadband trailer bill, and it elaborates on directives and policies laid out in the 2021-22 state budget. AB 156 must be approved by the full Legislature and then signed by the governor.

Sydney Johnson

Friday, July 9, 2021, 2:40pm

Link copied.Newsom praises what budget will do for students in signing K-12 ‘trailer bill’

Gov. Gavin Newsom extolled the benefits to California students of record level-spending on education in the 2021-21 state budget during a bill signing with students at Shearer Elementary in Napa Valley Unified on Friday.

“This is a transformation budget,” he said. “Mark my words: this is unlike anything we have ever done in this state. So many things we’ve promoted. So many things we dreamed of. We’re delivering when we sign this bill here today.”

Credit: NBC4 Los Angeles livestream

Newsom talks about the K-12 budget during a press conference at Shearer Elementary School in Napa Unified on July 9, 2021.

Technically, Newsom didn’t sign the budget legislation, which he’ll do next week, but Assembly Bill 130. That’s the 100-page K-12 “trailer bill,” which provides technical language and details for implementing the new K-12 programs in the budget. It includes transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, which will be phased in over the next five years. The bill surfaced Sunday after weeks of negotiations, and the Legislature passed it on Thursday.

Newsom highlighted the new programs that will benefit schools like Shearer Elementary, where 3 out of 5 students are English learners and nearly all students qualify for free and reduced-price school meals. The budget includes $3 billion to transition to community schools, which will provide health benefits, afternoon enrichment programs and family supports, as well as money for high-dose tutoring for students who lost ground during the pandemic. Low-income schools will also be able to lower class sizes or hire more counselors and nurses, with an extra $1 billion earmarked for them, he said. There also will be money to recruit and train teachers for low-income schools experiencing teacher shortages.

“We have a remarkable opportunity to follow through on our promises and to produce real and sustainable results,” he said.

Accompanying him was Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the State Board of Education and a close adviser on education.

“It’s a historic bill in multiple ways,” she said. “It is not only the amount of money going into education in California, but the way in which it’s going to be spent to support equity and the way in which it’s going to transform the way we think about our school system and what students experience.”

John Fensterwald

Friday, July 9, 2021, 1:08pm

Link copied.Mills College alumnae file lawsuit against school

A group of Mills College alumnae have filed a lawsuit against the Oakland school claiming the college withheld information from alumni trustees about the possibility the college would close or merge with Northeastern University, according to SFGate.

The group, which filed the complaint on June 7 in Alameda County, is asking the court to give it two months to review the college’s books.

Mills College in Oakland, which has had financial problems, announced a merger with Northeastern University in Boston in May that would keep the campus open.

The new plan would allow the historic college campus to remain open but would cease its tradition of serving only women in its undergraduate programs. The college would become known as Mills College at Northeastern University, and current Mills students could stay or possibly transfer to Northeastern’s main campus in Boston.

Diana Lambert

Friday, July 9, 2021, 1:04pm

Link copied.USC downsizes from 14,000-square-foot presidential mansion

The University of Southern California recently sold its presidential mansion in San Marino for $25 million and moved university President Carol Folt to a smaller $8.6 million home in Santa Monica, according to the Los Angeles Times.

University officials made the decision to sell the 14,000-square-foot mansion to cut costs. The mansion on the estate was built in 1934 on 7 acres of land donated by U.S. Army Gen. George Patton and railroad mogul Henry Huntington.

The Seeley Mudd Estate has been home to USC presidents for more than four decades, serving as the site of school dinners, galas and holiday parties.

Diana Lambert

Thursday, July 8, 2021, 1:59pm

Link copied.National organization honors former state board President Michael Kirst

Former State Board of Education President Michael Kirst is this year’s recipient of the Education Commission of the States’ James Bryant Conant Award, which recognizes individual contributions to public education. In announcing the selection Thursday, the commission cited Kirst’s “unwavering commitment to improving school finance systems to serve students more equitably.”

Michael Kirst

The commission, an interstate body that provides states with research and policy analyses, will present the award to him in October. Conant, for whom the award was named,  was a former president of Harvard University who laid the groundwork for the commission’s founding in the mid-1960s.

Kirst, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, served 16 years as board president and education adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown during Brown’s four terms as governor, including from 2011 through 2018.

Kirst is most identified with the Local Control Funding Formula, the 2013 law championed by Brown that ties extra funding for districts to the numbers of “high-needs” students they serve: low-income students, English learners, foster and homeless children. Kirst co-authored a paper that proposed the formula in 2007 and then oversaw its implementation. The equity-based funding system was unusual in that the Legislature  adopted it without a court order or pressure of litigation.

Kirst led the board though a decade of change, in which the state adopted a new accountability system, school improvement measures, along with new academic standards, frameworks and assessments.

Kirst is currently a senior fellow in residence at the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto, which was founded by Stanford professor emeritus Linda Darling-Hammond, who has succeeded Kirst as state board president.

The state board will acknowledge Kirst’s honor at its board meeting on Wednesday.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, July 8, 2021, 12:16pm

Link copied.Critical race theory debate takes root in Orange County schools

On social media boards and in public school board meetings, some Southern California parents are in an uproar over how history, race and racism is taught in schools.

At the heart of the issue is what’s known as critical race theory, an academic approach that examines how racism appears in U.S. institutions and laws. Though the framework has been around for nearly four decades, Republicans and conservative media pundits have recently been condemning its use in public schools as the nation grapples with issues such as police brutality, which disproportionately harms Black Americans.

Nine states have banned the theory from being taught in classrooms altogether, a concern to many historians and free speech advocates. And now similar controversies are stirring in California, primarily in far-right enclaves.

In Los Alamitos Unified in Orange County, district officials faced a barrage of backlash from parents after adopting a curriculum that emphasized social justice and anti-racist teaching practices.

“These concepts are not unifying students, they are reinforcing negative division,” David Ryst, a parent of three in Los Alamitos, told the Orange County Register. “They are not giving teachers proper training. A lot of teachers who are vocal with their liberal ideas are pushing those ideas on students.”

But teachers and district leaders say that critical race theory is not even taught in schools. Instead, it’s become a flashpoint in larger culture wars being fueled by misinformation and divisive rhetoric.

“Critical race theory is not what we’re teaching in school,” said Andrew Pulver, superintendent of Los Alamitos. “What we’re really trying to do is provide multiple points of views, diverse stories and opinions within a variety of groups, race and thought. Promoting critical thinking and seeking different levels of understanding are goals.”

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, July 8, 2021, 12:11pm

Link copied.Moms who lost their jobs during pandemic are struggling to return to work

California is reopening and people are heading back to work. But for mothers who lost their jobs or left their positions to take on schooling and other responsibilities at home during the pandemic, returning to the workplace isn’t so simple.

As of May 2021, employment for women without children had nearly recovered to what it was like pre-pandemic. But those with school-age children were 6% behind their peers without kids, CalMatters reports. And women living with a partner were two times more likely to still be unemployed than men living with a partner.

Women having a hard time returning to their pre-pandemic work lives also took on a larger portion of child care during the pandemic. Working moms who held the primary responsibility for child care increased from 33% to 45% in 2020, but that stayed consistent around 10% for men, according to a study from the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.

“I think families are going to hobble through it until we get some of the big stuff like the school’s back operating,” Christine Beckman, professor of public policy at the University of Southern California, told CalMatters.

Sydney Johnson

Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 9:48am

Link copied.Coronado Unified appeals revocation of championship title after tortilla-throwing incident

The Coronado Unified School board voted unanimously Tuesday to appeal a California Interscholastic Federation decision to revoke the division championship title bestowed on the Coronado High School basketball team after a tortilla-throwing incident on June 19, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Two members of the Coronado team threw tortillas at members of the opposing team, which was predominately Hispanic, after an altercation between the teams’ coaches and team members. A Coronado community member had brought the tortillas to the game.

The board’s decision comes after Coronado residents complained about the sanctions and the characterization of the incident as racist, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, July 7, 2021, 9:47am

Link copied.Animated series on civics directed by Obamas premieres Sunday

H.E.R. will join Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brandi Carlisle, Bebe Rexha and other artists in the animated series “We the People,” directed by Barack and Michelle Obama.

The 10-part series uses three-minute music videos to give civics lessons on the Bill of Right, immigration and the courts.

H.E.R. will be in the “Active Citizenship” episode performing her original song “Change.”

“We the People” premieres Sunday on Netflix.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 3:48pm

Link copied.Humboldt State taking next steps to become third Cal Poly

Last week, California’s Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to allocate more than $400 million in the 2021-22 budget for Humboldt State to become the California State University system’s third polytechnic institution, joining the campuses in Pomona and San Luis Obispo.

For Humboldt State, the next step before officially getting that designation is to complete a self-study, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Humboldt State spokesman Grant Scott-Goforth told the Bee that the self-study will act “as an argument for the designation.” Once the self-study is finalized, the campus will go before CSU’s Board of Trustees and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the body that accredits Humboldt State and other CSU campuses.

Scott-Goforth told the Bee that Humboldt State expects to finish a draft of the self-study by this summer and plans to make a formal request to the system’s Board of Trustees for the polytechnic designation by January 2022.

As a Cal Poly, Humboldt State would have a stronger emphasis on science, technology and engineering. More seats at the campus could open up for students pursuing majors in those fields and the campus could also be eligible for more research funding, both from public and private funders.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 3:48pm

Link copied.UC San Diego prepares to admit more California residents

UC San Diego is preparing to admit fewer out-of-state and international students and more California residents in the coming years to comply with orders from state lawmakers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The budget adopted last week by the Legislature says lawmakers plan to force UC San Diego, along with UCLA and UC Berkeley, to reduce their out-of-state enrollment to 18% over the next several years and replace those students with California residents.

Lawmakers have argued that those campuses give too many seats to out-of-state and international students, and that those spots should go to California residents. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, told the Union-Tribune that UC, and especially the San Diego, Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses, has “focused on admitting out-of-state students at the expense of in-state students.”

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla told the Union-Tribune that, while out-of-state enrollment has increased at UC San Diego over the years, no out-of-state student has ever “displaced a Californian.”

But Khosla added that he’s confident that UC San Diego will be able to find enough qualified California residents to replace the out-of-state students.

“Will we find enough Californians to replace the non-residents? The short answer is yes,” Khosla told the Union-Tribune. “We will certainly find enough Californians. I am not losing sleep over that.”

Lawmakers also say they have agreed to expand undergraduate enrollment of California residents by 6,230 at the University of California during the 2022-23 academic year. Funding for that enrollment growth was not part of the 2021-22 budget but lawmakers say it will be included in the 2022-23 budget.

While that new enrollment would be spread across the UC’s nine campuses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a disproportionate number of those students would likely go to UC San Diego because that campus has more room to grow.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, July 6, 2021, 10:54am

Link copied.California’s Calbright College part of $10 million national grant to study self-directed learning

Calbright College, the state’s only exclusively online community college, is one of nine institutions in the country selected to participate in a national research program to examine how technology can improve students’ skills for managing learning on their own.

Calbright is a free, self-paced alternative to traditional colleges intended to serve adults between the ages of 25 and 34 who lack college degrees or need additional skills to qualify for higher-paying jobs. The college uses a competency-based education model, which assesses students based on the skills they learn and not the amount of time spent in a class.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Services awarded $10 million to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, SRI Education and Achieving the Dream to conduct the study. SRI Education is a research organization and Achieving the Dream,  a non-profit that uses a network of more than 300 colleges nationally to conduct educational research.

The researchers and the participating colleges will be a part of a new center that focuses on creating a national engagement and professional learning program to help higher education leaders and instructors adopt teaching strategies and use online course tools to help students develop these self-directed learning skills.

Besides Calbright, the other participating colleges include Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts, Macomb Community College in Michigan, Odessa College in Texas, Palm Beach State College in Florida, Portland State University in Oregon, Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma, Virginia State University, and Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina.

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, July 2, 2021, 9:56am

Link copied.Governor recall election date set for Sept. 14

The second gubernatorial recall election in California state history is scheduled for Sept. 14. The announcement came on Thursday after months of procedural back and forth and efforts by Gov. Gavin Newsom to appeal to voters and stave off a recall effort.

“I believe we have chosen a fair and reasonable date for this election to take place,” said Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis in a prepared statement. “It has always been my intention to choose an election date that gives election officials and the public ample time to ensure a smooth election with broad participation.”

According to CalMatters, Newsom’s public approval rating has been improving as the state has been recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. But delaying the vote until September could give opponents more time to organize efforts to remove him from office.

California’s gubernatorial recall is only the fourth in the nation’s history. It started before the pandemic primarily by conservatives who are critical of Newsom’s position on the death penalty as well as issues the state faces around homelessness and immigration, but it gained support during pandemic-related business restrictions and closures.

Sydney Johnson

Friday, July 2, 2021, 9:51am

Link copied.Pomona Unified says goodbye to on-campus police in effort to reimagine safety

Pomona Unified, a large suburban school district east of Los Angeles, decided to cut ties with on-campus police this week, joining a small but growing number of school districts that are attempting to reimagine student safety.

The move comes in the wake of several high-profile police misconduct cases, including the murder of George Floyd in 2020, which spurred protests across the country against police brutality. Local organizers presented to the school board in April data that showed Black and Latino students in the district were arrested at disproportionately higher rates than other students.

“This is a milestone that has been met,” Caroline Lucas, a Pomona youth organizer who advocated for the removal of officers at Pomona High, told the Los Angeles Times. “For me, it means that leaders can experiment with what transformative activists have been trying to do.”

Pomona Unified serves 23,000 students and previously contracted with Pomona police to have an officer at each of its four high schools. The district paid nearly $366,000 to fund two officers in 2019, according to the Times.

That money will instead be used to help students recover from a challenging school year online during a pandemic.

“Our focus has been about re-engaging students and making sure that they’re ready to come back to school,” Superintendent Richard Martinez said.

Pomona police spokeswoman Aly Mejia told the Times that the department “always taken pride in the meaningful relationship we’ve established with our community and Pomona youth.”

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, July 1, 2021, 7:26pm

Link copied.El Dorado County resolution says face coverings at school should be optional

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday asking state officials to allow local school districts to decide whether students wear face coverings on school campuses in the fall, according to The Sacramento Bee.

The board would like face coverings to be optional even if students are not vaccinated.

The El Dorado County Office of Education told The Sacramento Bee that it will follow guidance from the California Department of Public Health. Currently, masks are still required in all K-12 California schools.

Diana Lambert

Thursday, July 1, 2021, 11:48am

Link copied.SFUSD meetings to address concerns about returning to school during pandemic

San Francisco Unified and health experts from UC San Francisco will share information about Covid-19 and answer questions about the Covid-19 prevention strategies that will be in place at district schools next school year in a series of public meetings next week.

The district returns to full-time in-person instruction on Aug. 16.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all students back in the fall, and appreciate the support from UCSF to ensure our families and staff are ready for a safe return,” San Francisco Unified Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “It takes a village, and I’m grateful for this partnership with local health leaders so our SFUSD community can receive the best possible guidance and information as we navigate through this pandemic.”

The meetings will be in English, Spanish and Cantonese. Interpreters can be requested. The meetings also can be viewed on Zoom or on the district’s Facebook page.

  • Tuesday, July 6, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. – Town hall will be in English with interpretation if requested.
  • Wednesday, July 7, from 5:30 to 7 pm. – Town hall will be in Spanish with English interpretation.
  • Thursday, July 8, from 5:30 to 7 pm. – Town hall will be in Cantonese with English interpretation.
Diana Lambert

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 6:31pm

Link copied.NCAA policy change will allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness

The NCAA on Wednesday adopted a policy change that will allow athletes across the country to profit off their name, image and likeness.

The new policy, which applies to Division I athletes, enables athletes to earn compensation from activities such as signing autographs and appearing in commercials. The adoption of the policy by the NCAA came just one day before laws are set to go in effect in several states allowing athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level.”

Under the new policy, athletes in states where name, image and likeness are in effect can engage in activities that are allowed under the law. Athletes in states without those laws can engage in activities consistent with the NCAA’s new policy.

California’s law on that issue isn’t scheduled to go into effect until 2023, but lawmakers are attempting to change that timeline and make it take effect later this year.

– Michael Burke

Michael Burke

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 2:42pm

Link copied.California has few school districts in financial peril this year

An influx of federal and state funding has most California school districts on firm financial ground, but 17 are still on the financial early warning list released by the California Department of Education.

That is considerably less than six months ago, when 55 school districts reported they could not meet their financial obligations for three consecutive years.

Two of those districts — Sacramento City Unified and Belridge Elementary School District — have received a negative certification, meaning based on current projections they will not be able to meet their financial obligations for the 2020-21 school year and next school year.

Sacramento City Unified, which has 45,000 students and a $600 million budget, has reported the same fiscal status since the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, according to the California Department of Education. Beldridge Elementary School in Kern County has been on the list since the second half of 2019-20. It has 25 students and a $1 million budget.

Fifteen of the 17 districts on the list are in qualified status, meaning based on current projections they can’t meet their obligations over three consecutive years beginning with the 2020-21 school year. The largest district of those districts is San Francisco, which serves 58,705 students and has an annual budget of $923 million.

School districts are required to file reports on their financial health twice a year. They are then certified as being in positive, qualified or negative status. Those in positive status can meet all their financial obligations.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 9:34am

Link copied.Charter school class-action suit against the state goes to court July 2

A class-action lawsuit against the State of California on behalf of 300 non-classroom based charter schools will begin July 2 in Sacramento Superior Court.

The suit contends that the state’s formula for funding K-12 schools during the pandemic illegally denied payments to schools for additional students who enrolled in the schools.

Gov. Gavin Newsom passed an executive order last June that guaranteed charter schools and school districts would be funded based on their pre-pandemic attendance rates. The order initially did not allow for a change in funding for growing school districts and charter schools, but last September the Legislature changed course and decided  to fully fund school districts and charter schools that had increased enrollment, but not online charter schools.

The lawsuit was brought by Classical Academies, Learning Choice Academy, River Springs/Empire Springs charter schools and 13 students on behalf of the 300 schools. It contends that because of reduced funding students attending non-classroom based charter schools will have less money spent on their education then other California students.

The lawsuit asks the court to direct the state to set aside legislation that funds non-classroom based charters at 2019-20 levels and to fund them for 2020-21 and in the future based on their attendance. It also asks that the state pay the plaintiff’s costs and expenses.

Defendants include Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, State Controller Betty Yee and the California Department of Education.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 4:06pm

Link copied.Cal State LA receives grant to help transfer students in STEM fields

California State University, Los Angeles has received a $300,000 grant to improve the success of student transfers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM fields).

The funding from the College Futures Foundation will allow the university to Successful Transfer and Retention (STAR) program, which Cal State LA said will allow the campus to collaborate with local community colleges to develop new pathways to bachelor’s degrees for transfer students.

“Through the STAR program, we are looking forward to establishing engineering and technology pathway agreements with community colleges and developing a pre- and post-transfer peer mentoring program, thereby enhancing institutional capacity to support transfer students,” Jane Dong, a Cal State LA professor who is the grant’s leading principal investigator, said in a statement.

EdSource receives funding from several foundations, including the College Futures Foundation. EdSource maintains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage.

– Michael Burke

Michael Burke

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 4:02pm

Link copied.California attorney general asked to investigate theft of San Francisco school board recall petitions

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has referred an investigation into the theft of San Francisco school board recall petitions to the state’s Attorney General’s Office, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The report of a theft happened in late May, when a volunteer for the recall effort reported that a person walked up to a signature drive table and took signed petitions. So far, police have yet to identify a suspect, the Chronicle reported.

According to the Chronicle, the suspect returned the signed petitions following a verbal altercation and then fled.

The recall effort is an attempt to remove three board members — Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez and Faauuga Moliga — from their elected offices. So far, the effort has collected more than 20,000 signatures out of the approximately 51,000 that are required for the recall to go to the ballot.

 – Michael Burke


Michael Burke

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 1:18pm

Link copied.State budget includes $15 million to expand mentors and tutors through AmeriCorps

The Legislature rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal in his revised state budget in May to earmark $2.6 billion for school districts and charter schools to spend on tutoring students who were set back by the pandemic. The compromise budget awaiting Newsom’s signature has other uses for the money. But the budget does contain a small amount that will help get some well-trained mentors and tutors into classrooms.

The one-time $15 million for the AmeriCorps California Student Success Coach Grant Program marks the first state investment in AmeriCorps, the federally funded national service program, and its affiliated City Year, which places 416 corps members in schools in Los Angeles, Inglewood, San Jose and Sacramento.

AmeriCorps chapters will compete for the money, which can be used to hire additional corps members, increase training in academic and social and emotional supports, or increase stipends to help recruit members, said City Year External Affairs Director Jacqueline Mejia. In high-cost San Jose, a one-bedroom apartment can cost nearly as much as AmeriCorps’ $21,000 annual stipend.

Many states and school districts are looking to in-school, small-group tutoring as a strategy to address the academic and emotional needs of students returning to school after 15 months of distance learning. But districts are also finding that well-trained aides and teachers will be stretched thin and in short supply.

Tapping into AmeriCorps is an obvious option.

“Covid-19 has hit our state and our students in unequal ways and it’s imperative we look for more ways to support the students who need it most,” said Sandra Cano, vice president and executive director of City Year Los Angeles.

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 11:46am

Link copied.Supreme Court decision on bathroom case hailed as a victory for LGBT youth

In a victory for LGBT youth advocates, the Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case that could have restricted transgender students’ ability to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.

The decision lets stand a lower court ruling that a school district in Virginia violated anti-discrimination laws when it prohibited a transgender male student from using the boys’ bathroom on campus.

The case, Grimm vs. Glouchester County School Board, centered on a high school student, Gavin Grimm, who wanted to use the boys’ bathroom at school after he began identifying as a boy. The school board prohibited it, and he and his family sued on the grounds that the school board violated his civil rights.

“I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over,” Grimm said in a statement published in the Washington Post. “Trans youth deserve to use the bathroom in peace without being humiliated and stigmatized by their own school boards and elected officials.”

The Trevor Project, a leading advocacy group for LGBT youth, hailed the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This is a monumental victory for transgender equality and human rights. The fearlessness and determination displayed by Gavin Grimm and his attorneys in this six-year-long battle for justice is nothing short of inspiring,” Amit Paley, executive director of the Trevor Project, said. “Thanks to their courageous leadership, this victory will help protect the rights of transgender and nonbinary students across the country and save young lives. … We are excited to see this case come to a close.”

Carolyn Jones

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 11:02am

Link copied.California lawmakers say teacher candidates can opt out of tests

California teacher candidates will soon be able to take coursework to prove they have the skills needed to become a teacher instead of two of the tests required to earn a credential.

A proposal to offer alternatives to the California Basic Education Skills Test, or CBEST, and California Subject Matter Exams for Teachers, or CSET, was part of the California’s 2021-22 budget bill passed Monday by state legislators.

Details are expected to be released in a trailer bill in the next few days. A recently released Assembly Floor Report says only that the Commission on Teacher Credentialing will determine if teacher candidates have the basic skills and subject matter competency needed to earn a credential.

Earlier this month both the state Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees on education recommended that teacher candidates should earn a B or better in qualifying coursework while earning a degree instead of taking the CBEST or CSET.

Currently, a teacher candidate is required to prove proficiency in basic reading, writing and math by passing the CBEST or other approved exams. The test is usually taken before a student is accepted into a teacher preparation program.

Teacher candidates also have been required to pass tests that are part of the California Subject Examinations for Teachers to earn a credential. Elementary school teachers must pass three tests  to earn a multiple-subject credential and middle and high school teachers earn single-subject credentials in areas such as art, biology or English by passing at least one subject exam.

Diana Lambert

Monday, June 28, 2021, 2:52pm

Link copied.NCAA council recommends allowing athletes to make money from name, image and likeness

College athletes should be able to profit from their name, image and likeness, the NCAA’s Division I Council recommended Monday.

The NCAA’s Division 1 Board of Governors later this week will vote on the recommendation, which would allow athletes to make money from things like signing autographs and appearing in commercials.

The recommendation comes just days before laws will go into effect in several states allowing athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. California’s law that would do the same wasn’t scheduled to go into effect until 2023, though lawmakers are attempting to speed up that process and make it effective in September of this year.

Until California’s law takes effect, Division I athletes would have to follow the NCAA’s rules. California’s law would then take precedence once it goes into effect.

Michael Burke

Monday, June 28, 2021, 12:52pm

Link copied.Matt Navo appointed executive director of school improvement agency

California State School Board member Matt Navo will be the next executive director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a 6-year-old, small state agency charged with the big task of overseeing the state’s school improvement effort.

Matt Navo

The 5-member board of the collaborative last week selected Navo, who is currently the director of Systems Transformation for the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention at WestEd, a San Francisco-based education research and training nonprofit. He is the third head of the agency and will succeed Tom Armelino, a former superintendent of the Shasta County Office of Education, who is retiring after three years at the collaborative. The first executive director was Carl Cohn, a former Long Beach Unified superintendent and member of the State Board of Education.

Navo also is a former member of the State Board of Education and former superintendent of Sanger Unified, a 12,000-student district in the Central Valley that was praised over the past decade as a model of academic improvement.

With a staff of fewer than two dozen employees, the collaborative is charged with being a lead agency in the state’s system of supporting district improvement by working with county offices of education and the state to identify best practices and strategies and disseminate them through workshops, guides and materials. The Legislature also assigned it, under the law establishing the Local Control Funding Formula, to oversee improvement efforts in those districts identified under the California School Dashboard indicators as chronically underachieving.

John Fensterwald

Friday, June 25, 2021, 5:29pm

Link copied.California child care workers union reaches agreement with state over pay

After much haggling, the Child Care Providers United (CCPU) today announced it had reached a contract agreement with the state on child care pay rates, which has been a sticking point in ongoing negotiations.  The agreement includes an increase in the subsidies providers receive from the state to care for low-income children, more funding for provider training, and new funding to allow more providers to become licensed, according to union officials.

“The work providers put in at the bargaining table will positively impact the lives of California’s children for decades to come and reinvigorate a workforce that has declined by almost half in the last thirteen years. I want to thank legislative leaders who stood by our side and the parents and children who joined the hundreds of providers all over the state in calling on Governor Newsom to reach the place we find ourselves at today,” said Max Arias, chairperson of CCPU, which represents about 40,000 child care workers across the state. “And finally, I want to thank Governor Newsom for hearing providers’ voices and sitting down with us to reach this final agreement.” 

Child care providers have long faced low wages and high costs and the pandemic has worsened the situation. Thousands of child care providers, a workforce dominated by women of color, shut down during the public health crisis and experts say it is becoming harder for families to find and afford the child care they need. 

“Rate reform and increased slots are important aspects of strengthening California’s early care and education system,” said Lea Austin, executive director of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. “Though ultimately, it’s imperative that reform and expansion also improve the pay and working conditions of the early education workforce – they are the linchpin of services and if we can’t recruit and retain a workforce, there is no viable child care system for children and families.”

State legislators recently proposed reforms to the state’s subsidy system that would raise and unify child care provider rates. The legislature’s proposal would raise the reimbursement rate to 85% of the 2018 regional market cost up from 75% of the 2015 rate, where it has long remained.

This new contract represents a compromise with a rate increase set at 75% of the 2018 cost, $289 million in a supplemental fund to increase provider pay that will ensure all providers get at least a 15% increase through June 2023 and $40 million in funding for education and training.

Union officials say it represents a victory for a workforce dominated by women of color.  In 2019, the governor signed legislation that gave 40,000 home-based child care workers the right to join a union and collectively bargain with the state.

“The collective bargaining agreement marks a new chapter in providers’ decades-long fight for fair pay and recognition for their pivotal role in early brain development, closing opportunity gaps faced by children of color, and leveling the playing field for working women,” said Arias. 


Karen D'Souza

Friday, June 25, 2021, 2:06pm

Link copied.Budget proposal to halt child care debt proposals advances in legislature

A California budget proposal to stop collecting child support debt from parents who receive financial assistance advanced this week, CalMatters reports. But advocates for parents in debt say the proposed solution must go further.

The Legislature’s budget proposal would reduce or expunge debt owed to the government for parents who rely on income from either the Supplemental Security Income or State Supplementary Payment, the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants, a combination of SSI/SSP and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or Veterans Administration disability benefits.

California collects child support payments from parents who sign up for government aid and applies penalties like interest or in some cases will suspend driver’s licenses when noncustodial parents fall behind on payments. That adds up to millions of dollars in interest on past-due child support payments in California, CalMatters reports, often locking noncustodial parents into debt.

Each year California collects approximately $2.5 billion from parents through the Department of Child Support Services. The majority of those funds get redirected to custodial parents, but the state also keeps a share. In 2019, it kept about $370 million for the general fund.

It’s unclear how many parents that receive cash assistance also owe child support debt.

Sydney Johnson

Friday, June 25, 2021, 2:05pm

Link copied.Oakland Unified moves ahead with plans to close and merge schools

The Oakland Unified school board voted Wednesday night to close and merge some of its schools in the fall of 2022, the Oaklandside reports.

Now out for summer, OUSD students will return to campuses on August 9 for the 2021-2022 school year. But just one week later, school staff and students will find out if their school will close or merge with another. Principals will be notified at the end of July.

The decision is part of the district’s Citywide Plan to increase students’ access to higher-quality schools by closing some and expanding others that have more successful programs. District officials also hope the consolidation will alleviate budget woes stemming from under-enrolled schools.

But board members and other school community members are now raising concerns about the impacts of more school closures following a difficult and isolating year of distance learning.

“I have no doubt that we do need to make some significant changes around addressing the quality in our schools and the number. I have some concerns around the short timelines around both engagement and decision-making,” board director Aimee Eng, who represents District 2, said during Wednesday’s school board meeting, according to the Oaklandside. “The early fall just does not put us as board members in a great position to be able to weigh the decision around recommendations and also the potential impact.”

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 2:37pm

Link copied.Incoming Stanford freshman is nation’s 2021 youth poet laureate

The nation’s newest youth poet laureate is again from California.

Alexandra Huynh, of Sacramento, will follow in the footsteps of Amanda Gorman, who was widely lauded for her poem “The Hill We Climb,” read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Gorman was the youth poet laureate in 2017.

Hunyh, 18, raised by parents who immigrated from Vietnam, will attend Stanford University as a freshman next school year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Hunyh said that her experience as a child of immigrants is reflected in her poetry.

The youth poet laureate program was started in 2008 in New York City by the literary arts organization Urban Word. The program eventually expanded to 41 cities and in 2017 the organization selected a national youth poet laureate from the finalists of the city competitions.

Hunyh told the Los Angeles Times that it was appropriate that both she and Gorman are from California.

“California is home to one of the most diverse populations in the United States, and I think with those backgrounds comes the appreciation for art and also for storytelling,” she said. “I think that that’s something you can find in California almost wherever you go.”

Diana Lambert

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 2:08pm

Link copied.Coronado High basketball coach fired after tortilla-throwing incident at championship game

Coronado High School head basketball coach JD Laaperi was fired by the Coronado Unified School Board on Tuesday after tortillas were thrown at the opposing team Saturday night, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The incident, which has gained national media attention, happened during a division championship game between Coronado High and Orange Glen High, located in Escondido, which has a predominantly Latino student population.

Laaperi also allegedly cursed at the Orange Glen coach after the game.

The tortillas apparently were brought to the game by an adult community member who passed them out to students. In a Tweet Sunday, Laaperi called the incident “unacceptable and racist in nature.”

Since then the man who brought the tortillas to the game, Luke Serna, has come forward to say there was no racial intent. Serna, who says he is half-Mexican and a Coronado alumnus, said he gave the tortillas to Coronado players for celebration, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In an unsigned letter to the school board, Serna said that throwing tortillas is a tradition at UC Santa Barbara, the university he attended.

Diana Lambert

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 11:35am

Link copied.California child care workers rally to demand pay raise

Amid ongoing budget negotiations, hundreds of members of Child Care Providers United held a march and rally at the California State Capitol Thursday calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to negotiate a contract for better pay for family child care providers. Brandishing yellow roses to deliver to state leaders and flanked by small children, child care workers tried to draw attention to the ongoing crisis in their industry. 

The labor union, which represents about 40,000 child care workers across the state, staged a press conference featuring labor leaders, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and AFSCME International President Lee Saunders, as well as Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount.

“With a record surplus and a system on the verge of collapse, now is not the time to pinch pennies,” said Johanna Puno Hester, vice-chair of Child Care Providers United.

Though child care providers have long grappled with low wages and high costs, the pandemic has made matters worse, forcing many providers to shut down. Squeezed by escalating costs and Covid risks, many child care providers are leaving the workforce for better paying jobs, which can be found in the fast-food industry. 

“Our pay is too low,” said Annette Nicholson, a child care provider in Stockton for the last 14 years. “From the day I started in the child care business to now, I have seen no meaningful increase in our wages. After expenses, I am lucky to make minimum wage.”

State legislators recently proposed reforms to the state’s subsidy system that would raise child care provider rates. The legislature’s proposal would raise the reimbursement rate to 85% of the 2018 regional market cost, up from 75% of the 2015 rate, where it has long remained. But the issue has become a sticking point in budget negotiations with the governor, experts say.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 3:33pm

Link copied.California children struggled with poverty before the pandemic, says report

Many California children faced economic hardship even before the pandemic hit, according to the 2021 Kids Count Data Book released this week.

About 16% of children in California lived below the poverty line in 2019, which explains why the state ranked 43 out of 50 states in terms of economic well-being. In terms of education, California ranked 36th. In a bright spot, the state nabbed the 11th spot for health.  In terms of overall childhood well-being, the state was ranked 33rd in the nation. 

The 50-state report compares data from 2010 and 2019, ranking states on standards including economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Based on the findings, advocates say that certain public policy initiatives, such as the expanded tax credit, could help families recover from the public health crisis.

“The Covid-19 crisis has brought many families to the breaking point, especially parents and caregivers who have lost jobs and income,” said Lisa Hamilton, president of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, which produces the annual report. “Making the expanded child tax credit permanent will continue providing critical financial support for families who are struggling to make ends meet and help reduce long-standing disparities that affect millions of families of color.”

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 11:15am

Link copied.Student’s social media messages protected by free speech, Supreme Court says

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a Pennsylvania school district violated the First Amendment when it punished a high school cheerleader for social media posts.

The cheerleader posted a message on Snapchat on a Saturday, after not making the varsity cheerleading squad. The message included a photo of her and a friend with their middle fingers raised and a caption that used the four-letter F-word and the words “school,” “softball,” “cheer,” “everything.”

Her cheerleading coaches suspended her for the year from the junior varsity squad for violating rules on showing “respect” and avoiding “foul language.”

In an 8-1 decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that her remarks made off campus were protected as free speech under the First Amendment, and that the school district violated that amendment by disciplining her.

“It might be tempting to dismiss B.L.’s words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein. But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary,”  wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

The ruling offers guidance in a question that had been unclear in recent decades — whether students have the right to say whatever they want on social media and off school grounds without being disciplined by school officials.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 9:40am

Link copied.LA Unified school board approves record budget for 2021-22 school year

Late Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified school board approved a $20 billion budget for the 2021-22 school year after months of discussion regarding a pandemic recovery plan for the nation’s second-largest school district. The district’s operating budget was approved at $13.8 billion.

Key points include:

  • $166 million will be used to hire teachers at elementary and middle schools;
  • $91 million will be used to hire additional custodial staff;
  • $151 million will go toward hiring more mental health counselors;
  • $80 million will be used to hire reading and math teachers in elementary schools.

During previous board meetings, the board listened to suggestions regarding the exact number of counselors, teachers, and staff the district could hire with the influx of funding. The final number of hires, however, may ultimately differ from current predictions.

Notably, the approved budget did not include an amendment that sought an additional decrease of $4 million in school police funding. The school board last year voted to decrease the school budget by $25 million. Coalitions of students and families have called for months to include the amendment in the final budget, and on Tuesday rallied outside school district headquarters while calling into the school board meeting to provide public comment. The amendment was defeated by a 4-2 vote with one abstention.

The increase in funding for the upcoming school year includes pandemic relief money and state tax revenues.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 9:34am

Link copied.School psychologists try to form union in Clovis Unified

School psychologists filed a petition to start a union in the largest school district in the state without a teachers’ union, Clovis Unified.

According to the Fresno Bee, 75% of school psychologists in the district signed the petition.

A group of teachers in the district, the Association of Clovis Educators, were trying to gather petitions for their own union this spring. In June, the group filed an unfair labor practice claim against the district, alleging it interfered and suppressed union organizing.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 9:31am

Link copied.Students sue UC Davis for canceling PE, still charging fees

A group of UC Davis students filed a lawsuit against the university over ending the physical education program and allegedly continuing to charge fees that pay for the program.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the university ended its physical education program in December 2020, despite student protests.

For the remaining two quarters of the school year, the university continued to charge students a fee that was originally instated years ago to cover the program.

Zaidee Stavely

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 5:01am

Link copied.Southeast LA students highly impacted by pandemic, survey finds

A recent survey by AltaMed Health Services and Great Public Schools Now found that the educational experiences and psychological wellbeing of residents in the southeast Los Angeles region of L.A. County were impacted at higher rates due to pre-existing “social determinants of health that keep them marginalized.”

Over 2,000 residents with at least one child enrolled in grades K-12 were surveyed, with 45% identifying as Latino. The survey included 23 questions and was made available for families in English and Spanish during March and April of this year.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Grades worsened for 33.8% of children whose families reported being impacted by Covid-19;
  • 54.6% of respondents said they were “concerned or very concerned about their children having enough to eat”;
  • 86.6% of respondents said that their families experiences Covid-related impacts such as change in income, death, hospitalization, and job loss.

Southeast Los Angeles, with a population of over 440,000, is 90% Latino and its median income is $17,500 lower than the county’s median income of $58,000.

“Our findings reflect that pre-existing Social Determinants of Health exacerbated the effects of COVID-19 on education in SELA, and confirm that recovery of our communities will require increased advocacy and civic engagement,” the report concluded.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 5:08pm

Link copied.UC graduate student researchers try to unionize

About 17,000 graduate student researchers across the University of California are seeking to become unionized, according to CalMatters.

Student Researchers United, a committee representing those researchers, filed a petition with the California Public Employment Relations Board for union certification.

Organizers for the committee told CalMatters that they want better benefits and pay, more protections for international students and protections against harassment and discrimination.

“I’m really excited for us to be able to make our working conditions better, make our work balance better, and improve things like equity as graduate students and create a more democratic workplace,” Katie Augspurger, one of the  organizers and a biochemistry researcher at UC San Francisco said.

Erika Cervantes, a spokesperson for UC, told CalMatters that UC “neither discourages nor encourages unionization.”

Michael Burke

Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 1:09pm

Link copied.San Diego Unified launches summer academic, enrichment programs

San Diego Unified, the second largest school district in California, launched a summer recovery program Monday, and about 30,000 students are either taking in-person morning academic classes or are enrolled in enrichment programs, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The district’s Level Up Recovery Program, which was launched after the district received millions of relief dollars from the federal government, offers academic classes in the morning and enrichment activities in the afternoon, such as classes on how to fly a drone or how to be a barista, the newspaper reported.

About 25,000 students are taking the academic classes and another 10,000 are enrolled in enrichment programs, according to the Union-Tribune. Some of those students are enrolled in both sessions.

Michael Burke

Monday, June 21, 2021, 3:27pm

Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified, teachers union reach tentative agreement for fall

After months of negotiations, West Contra Costa Unified and its teachers union, the United Teachers of Richmond, have reached a tentative contract agreement for the 2021-22 school year.

The union and district were at odds over class sizes; the union at one point even walked away from the bargaining table over what union officials called “bad-faith bargaining” from the district.

The district has said since January that it will return to full in-person instruction in the fall.

The tentative agreement, which was signed by the bargaining teams Monday afternoon, calls for an average class size for grades TK-3 of 22 students, with a maximum of 23 students. It also mandates an average of 30 students (with a 31 student maximum) for grades 4-8 in elementary schools and also in K-8 schools. Math, English, English language development, social sciences and science classes at middle and high schools will have a maximum of 36 students, with a maximum of 52 students for physical education and 37 for other classes.

The new class sizes requirements will result in more than 120 more teachers in classrooms next school year, district officials said Monday.

The contract would allow teachers to volunteer to accept students over their maximum in exchange for a salary increase of 3.5%.

The contract also calls for the hiring of 12 new academic counselors, resulting in a 338:1 student to counselor ratio for K-8 and middle schools and a 350:1 student to counselor ratio for high schools — down from 700:1. Each comprehensive high school will also have at least one college and career counselor.

United Teachers of Richmond members must still vote whether or not to ratify the agreement. If the agreement is ratified, the district’s school board could vote as early as July 14 in order to approve the agreement.


Ali Tadayon

Monday, June 21, 2021, 11:09am

Link copied.U.S. Supreme Court sides with college athletes against NCAA on education benefits

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that the NCAA cannot restrict education-related benefits that colleges can give to athletes.

While the ruling does not directly cover product endorsements, Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to invite further challenges to the NCAA’s ban on additional payments to athletes whose participation in the most popular sports bring billions of dollars in revenue to Division I colleges.

“Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. “And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The N.C.A.A. is not above the law.”

The decision could also prompt states and Congress to act on bills that would enable athletes to make money off their names and images, personal appearances, social media engagement and produce endorsements. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas will become the first states to overrule the NCAA on some of these pay issues when their laws take effect this year, according to The New York Times.

California’s law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act  on Sept. 30 2019 freeing college athletes to make money from their labor. Unanimously passed by the Legislature, the new law will give college athletes the right to cash in on endorsements and other actions prohibited by the NCAA’s rules defining amateur athletes. The bill was opposed by both private and public colleges.  Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley was the author.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court said that the NCAA cannot prevent colleges from awarding education-related payments to student-athletes. The court upheld a lawsuit brought by former athletes, including former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston, who argued that the NCAA’s rules were unfair and violate antitrust laws.

The  court decision concerned only payments and other benefits related to education and will help determine whether colleges can offer athletes computers, graduate scholarships, study abroad, internships and other benefits .

– John Fensterwald

John Fensterwald

Monday, June 21, 2021, 9:17am

Link copied.L.A. Unified announces new film and television production school

A new Los Angeles Unified school, the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, will open its doors in the fall of 2022 for students interested in careers in the entertainment industry. The high school will be located on the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center campus, an L.A. Unified school in the downtown Los Angeles area, and will connect students with internship opportunities and mentors who work in television and film production.

The advisory board for the pilot school program includes George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria, and others from the industry. While it will first enroll 9th and 10th grade students, 11th and 12th graders will be enrolled within the next two years.

“Physics is involved in the choice of a lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score in a film, critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters need a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know the chemistry of the different materials they might use — all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school,” said Austin Beutner, the district’s superintendent. “We are excited to have the support of these extraordinary industry leaders to create opportunity for children in the Los Angeles area.”

Betty Márquez Rosales

Friday, June 18, 2021, 11:07am

Link copied.Distance learning preliminary injunction denied in California

At a hearing last week, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled to deny requests by parent groups for a preliminary injunction made in May that would have forced the state to take immediate action to improve distance learning conditions, such as closing the digital divide and providing students with mental health services, The Oaklandside reports.

The ruling is the latest step in an ongoing lawsuit filed by a coalition of parents, students, and parent advocacy groups in districts including Los Angeles Unified and Oakland Unified against the state of California. The groups allege that education during the Covid-19 pandemic was inadequate and failed to comply with the state’s constitution.

In particular, the coalition cited unfair access to the technology required for distance learning, a lack of live instruction, and called for free counseling to students and robust plans to address potential learning loss.

Judge Winnefred Smith denied the parent groups’ request for the preliminary injunction, writing that “the court is reluctant to address long-term issues through the short term of a preliminary injunction,” according to The Oaklandside. She also pointed to Assembly Bill 86, which provides schools with funding to create safe in-person learning environments and funds additional academic support after the pandemic.

The case is still ongoing and it could be several months before a final ruling is made.

Sydney Johnson

Friday, June 18, 2021, 11:02am

Link copied.Marin schools will integrate after years of racial segregation

Two schools in Marin County, California’s most racially segregated county, are moving forward with plans to integrate, marking the state’s first mandated school desegregation effort in nearly 50 years.

The two school communities are Sausalito, a 92% white community with a median income of $112,000 where many students attended a district charter school, and Marin City, which is made up of 60% African American and Latino residents with a media income of $45,841 and is served by a traditional public school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The move comes after a 2016 audit that cited discrimination, poor academic outcomes and disproportionately high discipline for Black students compared to their white peers. In 2019, previous Attorney General Xavier Becerra mandated the district to desegregate the schools.

Sydney Johnson

Thursday, June 17, 2021, 4:39pm

Link copied.Report outlines decades of sexual misconduct allegations at private boarding school

The Thacher School in Ojai, posted a report on its website Wednesday outlining four decades of allegations of rape, sexual misconduct and harassment at the expensive boarding school, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The school, which charges $64,700 a year for tuition, hired a law firm to conduct the investigation after an alumni social media campaign was launched that included the Instagram account @rpecultureatthacher. The account called itself a safe space for those victimized at the school, according to the article.

The 90-page report identified six alleged perpetrators by name and recounted accusations of misconduct, as well as efforts to cover up the complaints and blame the students, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Diana Lambert