California education news: What’s the latest?
Thursday, June 17, 2021, 4:25pm
A state grant program that helps classified school employees — generally classroom aides, food service workers and clerical staff — to earn a teaching credential has added 800 new teachers to California classrooms over the last five years, according to a report to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program offers competitive grants to school districts to pay tuition, fees and other costs for employees who want to complete a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
While in the program, staff members continue working for the district before transitioning to jobs as entry-level teachers. The program has offered 2,260 potential teachers a spot in the program in two separate rounds of grants.
The state budget allocated $20 million for the first round of grants in 2016 and $25 million for the second round in 2017. The 2021-22 state budget the Legislature approved this week includes $125 million for the program.
The California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program was started as part of an ongoing effort to address a teacher shortage that has left many classrooms without a fully credentialed educator. Finding teachers, especially those teaching science, math, special education and English language learners, has become a daunting challenge, particularly for school districts in areas with high housing and other costs.
Prospective teachers must have completed at least two years of college to be eligible for the program. They have five years to complete it.
The program pays school districts $4,000 annually for each participant, with most of the money to be spent on tuition, books and other education costs. Districts can use some of the money to administer the program.
The report on the program, prepared for the commission by Shasta College, found that the program had successfully met the objectives of legislators, but also included a long list of recommendations that included giving more guidance to school districts and participants about the program’s rules, procedures and allowable expenses.
The report found disparities in the amount school districts spent to manage the program and the amount that went to program participants. It recommended there be a limit to management costs to ensure teacher candidates across the state are given similar amounts. It also recommended that plans be put in place to assist participants in finding preservice placements and teaching positions.—Diana Lambert
Wednesday, June 16, 2021, 2:49pm
In a reversal from the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday it would enforce laws that protect gay and transgender students from discrimination.
The decision by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, issued under Title IX, is based on last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that anti-discrimination laws that based on a person’s sex also include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination — and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Today, the Department makes clear that all students — including LGBTQ+ students — deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.”
In 2017, former President Donald Trump rolled back protections for transgender students, and last year threatened to withhold funding for schools that allowed transgender students to particulate in school sports.
A report released last week by the Office for Civil Rights found that LGBTQ students faced greater levels of anxiety and stress during the pandemic than their peers, and in general are more likely to face bullying or abuse.
Advocates for LGBTQ youth praised Cardona’s announcement.
“Transgender and nonbinary young people should feel safe going to school and know that they are protected from discrimination. The Trevor Project is grateful to the Department of Education for actively working to ensure that schools are safe and affirming spaces for transgender and nonbinary youth. We know that trans-affirming schools can be life-saving,” said Amit Paley, executive director of The Trevor Project, which advocates for LGBT young people.
“Young people spend most of their time at school and it’s crucial that all students are protected from discrimination and afforded the same rights. This policy clarification is welcomed, but we must continue to push the Senate to pass the Equality Act and codify nondiscrimination protections for the trans community, and to resist efforts to restrict trans students’ access to gender-affirming bathrooms, school sports, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Education to protect trans youth,” he said.
Under AB1266, passed in 2013, California already bans discrimination based on a student’s gender identity and sexual orientation.—Carolyn Jones
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 4:17pm
To address the steadily rising rate of homeless students in California, the state should boost funding for social services and take other steps to ensure those students stay in school and go to college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Learning Policy Institute.
The report, which included data through the 2018-19 school year, found that the number of homeless students in California has been rising annually and likely has been exacerbated by the pandemic. In 2018-19, about 270,000 K-12 students — 1 in 23 — lacked stable housing, with Black, Native American, Pacific Islander, English learners and students in special education more likely to be affected. An estimated 1 in 5 homeless students nationwide live in California.
“Students experiencing homelessness hold educational aspirations like those of their peers — to graduate from high school and go on to college,” the researchers wrote. “What separates students experiencing homelessness from their peers are the challenges of their circumstances, often due to the cumulative effects of poverty and the instability and disruption of social relationships associated with high mobility.”
The report recommends that the state and federal government increase funding for “wraparound” services available through some schools, such as health care and mental health counseling, housing vouchers, groceries and other services aimed at low-income students and their families.
The report also recommends that the state create a “children’s cabinet” to consolidate and streamline services, and add homeless students as a separate category of high-needs students in the Local Control Funding Formula, along with foster youth, English learners and students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Because homeless students are often under-counted, the report recommends that schools improve their methods of identifying students who might be living in shelters, motels, cars, doubled-up with other families or on the street. Families sometimes don’t reveal their housing status to school staff out of shame or fear of authorities taking away their children.
Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, schools are required to identify and help homeless students, who are more likely to be absent from school and less likely to graduate then their peers. The Learning Policy Institute is an education research organization led by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the State Board of Education.—Carolyn Jones
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 2:12pm
The University of California will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated for Covid-19 this fall, even if the Food and Drug Administration does not give full approval to one of the existing vaccines, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The decision is a reversal from what UC was planning in April, when the university system announced it would require the vaccines as long as one of them was fully approved by the FDA before the fall term. Currently, the FDA has authorized emergency use for vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, but has not yet given full approval to any of them.
EdSource has asked UC officials to comment.
The state’s other public university system, the 23-campus California State University, is still planning to wait for the FDA to give full approval to a vaccine before implementing its own vaccine mandate.
“The plan announced in April (vaccine requirement pending full FDA approval) is still our current course,” Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for CSU’s chancellor’s office, said in an email to EdSource. “We will continue to evaluate the situation as we move closer to the beginning of the fall term.”—Michael Burke
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 2:11pm
Several public colleges and universities in California have received large donations from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who announced $2.7 billion in donations on Tuesday to hundreds of different organizations.
For several of the colleges, the gifts, which are for as much as $40 million, are the largest donations that they have ever received from a single donor. In a blog post announcing the donations, Scott said she aimed to donate to institutions that educate students “who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.”
The colleges that received gifts include a number of California’s community colleges: Long Beach City College, Chaffey College, College of the Desert, Pasadena City College, Porterville College, Santa Barbara City College and West Hills College Lemoore.
The award amounts included $30 million each to Long Beach City College and Pasadena City College, $25 million to Chaffey College, $20 million to Santa Barbara City College and $7 million to Porterville College. Long Beach City College, Pasadena City College and Santa Barbara City College each said their gifts were the largest donations that an individual has ever given to their colleges.
Five of the state’s four-year universities also received gifts: University of California, Merced; California State University, Channel Islands; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Northridge; and Cal Poly Pomona.
CSU Channel Islands received a $15 million gift, while CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge and Cal Poly Pomona each received $40 million donations. The gifts to each of those campuses also represented the largest one-time gifts that those institutions have ever received from an individual donor.
“This transformative gift provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance our future as leaders in equity-centered student success to provide a brighter and more equitable future for our students, their families and the communities we are so proud to serve,” Erika Beck, president of CSU Northridge, said in a statement.—Michael Burke
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 10:36am
In his final “State of Schools” address before stepping down as superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, Austin Beutner shared a list of achievements, challenges, and anecdotes from his time leading the nation’s second-largest school district through the pandemic.
He reminded the audience that L.A. Unified schools were closed before any sign of Covid-19 infections on school grounds, that 140 million free meals have been distributed to students and their families over the past year, and the district has developed the operations systems to provide free Covid-19 tests and free vaccinations for children as young as 12.
Beutner also shared anecdotes about school staff ensuring the safety and well-being of their students. He mentioned a psychiatric social worker who provided grief counseling for a student whose father passed away and connected his family with financial assistance programs, plus a principal who provided food, counseling, and internet support services for a student whose single mother had fallen ill with Covid-19.
A video of the address will be shared on the L.A. Unified website later this week.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Monday, June 14, 2021, 11:43am
Link copied.California is 36th in nation in Education Week’s latest rankings in per-student spending
California ranked 36th in the nation in per-student spending in Education Week’s much quoted, though outdated, analysis of states’ education finances, which was released earlier this month.
Adjusted for regional costs of labor, California spent $11,269 in 2017-18, which was $2,410 below the national average. Education Week relies on most recently available federal data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, which run several years behind. Thus, it does not reflect this year’s record post-pandemic surge in state and federal revenue, which could propel the state’s ranking in a few years.
Among the big states, California spent more than Texas ($9,369 per student) but far less than New York ($20,610) and high-achieving Massachusetts ($16,984).
California has been moving up gradually since the years following the Great Recession, when it ranked 48th to 50th nationally.
Education Week’s Quality Counts report includes several financial metrics. California ranked 41st in commitment to education funding; 3.1% of the state’s gross state product went to local and state education funding, compared with 3.5% in Texas, 4.2% in New York and 5.4% in Vermont, highest in the nation.
In terms of letter grades in school financing, California got an A- in equity, because it substantially distributes funding to low-income districts through the Local Control Funding Formula. However, its D for spending dragged it down to an overall C+. That placed it ahead of 28 other states. The two top-ranked states, with good grades in equity and spending, were New Jersey and New York, both with A-. The national average was C.—John Fensterwald
Friday, June 11, 2021, 1:26pm
Los Angeles Unified and their teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), on Thursday evening reached a tentative agreement on Covid-19 safety protocols for the full reopening of campuses during the 2021-22 school year.
Many of the school district’s current safety protocols will remain with some adjustments. Students, teachers, staff, and visitors will all be required to wear masks regardless of whether they have received the Covid-19 vaccination, monthly inspections and the use of MERV 13 filters on ventilation systems will continue, and Covid-19 testing will be required every two weeks instead of the current weekly requirement.
While campuses will reopen for full-day instruction in the fall, students will keep the option to continue learning from home. The tentative agreement included details on what the school day may look like for those students: elementary school students would have a daily three hours of live online instruction, and middle and high school students would attend three 70-minute periods every school day, with each period providing at least 40 minutes of live online instruction.
If ratified by members of the union, the tentative agreement would be effective beginning on June 23 and remain in place until June 30, 2022. Details on when members can vote on the tentative agreement have yet to be announced.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Thursday, June 10, 2021, 4:06pm
Schools should consider extending the school year, increasing tutoring and taking other steps — especially over the summer — to help students enrolled in special education catch up academically as they return to campus, advocacy groups said this week.
High-quality academic support, assessments, activities and camps are among the services that schools should offer to students with disabilities after months of distance learning, according to the recommendations by the National Center for Learning Disabilities and research by NWEA, a research organization that focuses on education assessments.
“While the research did not study the impact of Covid-19 on students with disabilities, it does highlight implications that will need attention given the past year we have had,” said Elizabeth Barker, accessibility research manager at NWEA and co-author of the study. “And now with summer coming, this is a heads-up to teachers that we’re headed for a possible dip and extended school year policies may need to be leveraged.”
Remote learning was a particular challenge for students in special education because so many specialized services, such as speech or occupational therapy, are difficult to deliver virtually. According to NWEA’s research, students with disabilities generally tend to lose more ground academically during the summer months than their non-disabled peers.
The groups also recommended that schools improve their identification of and support for children with disabilities in kindergarten.
Barker and her colleagues studied more than 4,000 elementary-age students over a five-year period. They found that students with disabilities typically had lower reading and math scores in kindergarten, but in later years actually showed greater growth than their non-disabled classmates.
“I think it’s important for teachers to know that students with disabilities are growing and learning,” Barker said. “It means teachers are doing a great job. Your supports are working.”—Carolyn Jones
Thursday, June 10, 2021, 12:49pm
The Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose is suing four former board members for health and welfare benefits district officials mistakenly paid them, according to the Mercury News.
The lawsuits, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, asks Karen Martinez, Esau Herrera, Delores Marquez and Khanh Tran to pay the district more than $10,000 each.
The district had been paying 100 percent of the benefit premiums for its board members, but only 85 percent of the premium of district employees. California law prohibits paying members of legislative bodies more than the “most generous” benefits given to employees of the agency they oversee, according to the Mercury News.
Last year district officials realized the mistake and sent letters to former and current board members asking for them to pay back the money the district had spent on the premiums over the allowed 85 percent, according to the article. They sued the four who refused.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, June 10, 2021, 11:59am
California leads the country in the largest decrease in college enrollment by headcount with a drop of nearly 123,000 students according to a report released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment and degree data since 2011.
The declines reflect the steepest enrollment drops nationally in a decade, mostly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The decrease was mostly led by the state’s 116 community colleges, which saw 145,849 fewer students this spring compared to Spring 2020 when 1,231,701 students were enrolled in degree or certificate programs in the public, two-year institution, according to data provided by the colleges to the Clearinghouse.
The state’s community colleges, including non-credit students, typically enroll more than 2 million people in total.
The state’s public four-year colleges — the California State University and University of California systems — also saw declines in spring enrollment. According to Clearinghouse, 683,309 students were enrolled in a public, four-year institutions compared to 691,892 in Spring 2020.
Nationally community college enrollment is down 9.5% or 476,000 fewer students this spring compared to last year. More than 65% of total undergraduate enrollment losses this spring occurred in the community college sector.
“The final estimates for spring enrollment confirm the pandemic’s severe impact on students and colleges this year,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “How long that impact lasts will depend on how many of the missing students, particularly at community colleges, will be able to make their way back to school for the coming fall.”—Ashley A. Smith
Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 3:49pm
Link copied.Masks will continue to be required inside K-12 schools, childcare facilities after state reopens
Though most Covid-19 restrictions will drop after June 15, when California officially reopens, individuals will still be required to wear masks inside K-12 schools, childcare facilities and other youth settings regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.
That’s according to guidance on the use of face coverings released Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health. The guidance states masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals after June 15, when the state drops its color-coded reopening tier system, but lists five exceptions: public transit, K-12 schools and childcare, healthcare settings, correctional facilities and detention centers, and homeless or emergency shelters.
The guidance document released Wednesday states that the rules could change for K-12 schools, since the state’s updated operating guidance for schools is “forthcoming.” That will follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s updated operational guidance for K-12 schools.—Ali Tadayon
Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 3:23pm
Link copied.Survey finds more than half California college students saw income decline during pandemic
An online survey taken in January of California college students found the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on their incomes and expenses.
Fifty-three percent of students said their incomes had declined during the pandemic and six in 10 reported an increase in expenses and an income decline, according to the survey released Wednesday by The Institute for College Access and Success.
Students also reported challenges with non-tuition expenses. One in four college students said they spent more on books and supplies during the pandemic. The increased costs specifically affected students in the California community colleges, with 66% reporting an increased burden.
Nearly half of Black college students reported missing a rent, mortgage or utility payment and more than half of Black and Latino students said they faced food insecurity during the pandemic.
As a result, nearly 60% of college students say they expect to receive their degree later than planned because of the pandemic. These students report the additional financial strain, lack of personal study space, new time constraints, and concerns about the quality of online education as reasons why they now expect their degrees to take longer.
The online survey, which was designed by TICAS and administered by Hart Research Associates, includes random responses from 875 students enrolled for both Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 terms in the community college, California State University or University of California systems. In total, there is about 2.1 million community college, 485,000 CSU and 285,000 UC students enrolled.—Ashley A. Smith
Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 12:25pm
In a series of actions Tuesday to emphasize its role in advancing education equity, the U.S. Department of Education announced the first of an Educational Equity Summit Series later this month and issued a directive on using federal pandemic relief funding to help low-income schools.
It also issued a 61-page report on the disparate impacts of Covid-19 on the nation’s most vulnerable high school and college students, including low-income youths, English learners, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. “This report bears witness to the many ways that COVID-19, with all of its tragic impacts on individuals, families, and communities, appears to be deepening divides in educational opportunity across our nation’s classrooms and campuses,” Suzanne Goldberg, acting assistant secretary for civil rights, said in the introduction.
The June 22 webinar, from 10 a.m. to noon PT, will focus on how to give all students a voice in the process of re-envisioning post-pandemic schools and colleges. It will feature discussions on how schools can create responsive and inclusive learning environments. Speakers will include U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, former San Diego Unified Superintendent and now U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, and Pedro Noguera, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. Go here to learn more and register.
The guidance applies to the use of the funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March. It will provide pre-K-12 schools in California $15 billion. The guidance requires states and school districts to protect high-poverty districts and schools from funding cuts as a condition of receiving their share of the money.
Unlike the Great Recession, when the Legislature made massive cuts to schools, the new “maintenance of effort” requirement likely won’t affect California. With state revenues surging, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature are expected to approve record revenue for schools in the 2021-22 budget, and to direct the bulk of billions in one-time funding to districts with the highest proportion of English learners and to low-income, foster and homeless students.—John Fensterwald
Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 4:33pm
Link copied.Students in California were satisfied with distance learning, but their personal well-being suffered, study finds
Students in California had relatively high marks for their online learning experiences during the pandemic but were less satisfied with their personal well-being and social relationships, according to a survey released Tuesday by Policy Analysis for California Education.
Researchers asked 32,000 4th through 12th graders at 126 schools around the state in fall 2020 and winter 2021 how they felt about distance learning compared to in-person school, and their personal sense of well-being. Results for some students were paired with academic records.
Overall, students at all grade levels said their teachers cared about them, treated them with respect and supported their academic efforts. But while learning remotely, many said they often felt worried or sad and disconnected from their peers. Students with disabilities experienced those feelings more often, according to survey results.
But even as their personal sense of well-being stagnated or declined, middle and high school students’ opinions of distance learning improved over time, according to the research.
“This is a testament to the efforts of administrators, educators, families, and parents to improve online learning experiences,” the report said. “However, likely due to the continuation of remote learning, students in grades 5–12 reported that they did not like school as much in winter 2020–21 compared with how they had felt at the beginning of the school year. … This data (can help) education stakeholders focus their efforts on meeting the most pressing needs of each group of students.”—Carolyn Jones
Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 4:28pm
Even though Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be available for children under 12 by the fall, those students can still return safely to in-person instruction at that point, according to a new study, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that outbreaks are possible if precautions are not taken. But when those students wear masks and maintain physical distancing, the study found that an infected child will pass the virus to fewer than one other student, on average, over a period of 30 days.
The study does not specify how much distancing should happen in schools. The findings of the study are based on a model that simulates Covid-19 transmission in school communities.
More details on the methodology and findings of the study can be found here.—Michael Burke
Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 1:32pm
Members of Child Care Providers United held a march and rally at the California State Capitol Tuesday, calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to negotiate a contract for higher pay for family child care providers. The labor union, which represents 40,000 child care workers across the state, staged a press conference featuring a marching band as well as picketers.
“We demand the governor raise provider rates now,” said Max Arias, chairman of the union. “Despite the governor recognizing child care providers as essential during the pandemic, despite the recognition that child care is necessary for the state’s economic recovery, despite a rapid surplus in the state budget, and despite legislators agreeing that providers pay must increase to match the critical work they do, the governor is not listening.”
Child care providers have long struggled with low wages and high costs and the pandemic has made matters worse. Thousands of child care providers, a workforce dominated by women of color, have shuttered their business during the public health crisis and experts say it is becoming harder for families to find and afford the child care they need.
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 2016 rate, where it has long been stuck.
“Our entire child care system is at risk,” said Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara.“As costs for providers continue to skyrocket, thousands have been forced to close. By compensating providers for what they deserve, and investing in their skills, we can improve availability and resources, making it possible for more families to access quality, affordable child care right in their communities.”—Karen D'Souza
Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 1:01pm
All nine college across the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the state, will hold virtual commencement ceremonies Tuesday.
Each of the college’s ceremonies are being streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. More information on how to watch the ceremonies can be found here.
Some colleges and universities across California are holding their ceremonies in person, albeit with distancing and few guests, but the colleges of the Los Angeles district opted to keep their ceremonies remote.
“Yes, we are again celebrating virtually this year, but it is no less significant. It is an exciting day for so many of our students, many of whom are first-generation graduates, and their families,” Francisco Rodriguez, chancellor of the district, said in a message to the district.—Michael Burke
Monday, June 7, 2021, 4:28pm
An Alameda County Superior Court judge will hold a hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. on a lawsuit demanding that the state act immediately to ensure all students receive internet service, mental health care and other services in response to the pandemic. Those who want to follow the proceedings — a request for a preliminary injunction — can do so here.
Fifteen parents from Los Angeles and Oakland and two community organizations, The Oakland Reach and the Community Coalition of Los Angeles, sued the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond last fall. The Legislature has appropriated more than $10 billion in Covid relief to school districts, with $12 billion more proposed in the 2021-22 state budget. Consistent with local control, Gov. Gavin Newsom has given school districts flexibility to determine how to use the money, with reporting requirements but little state monitoring.
Public Counsel, the pro bono law firm representing the plaintiffs, said that’s not good enough to meet the state’s constitutional obligation to provide an equal opportunity to all students for an education.
“The state cannot just write big checks and then say, ‘We’re not paying attention to what happens here,’” said Mark Rosenbaum, a directing attorney with Public Counsel.
The 84-page lawsuit claims that Los Angeles Unified and Oakland Unified failed to serve the plaintiffs and cites instances where The Oakland Reach and Community Coalition stepped in to meet the needs.—John Fensterwald
Monday, June 7, 2021, 4:26pm
Students who identify as transgender are nearly 10 times as likely to experience homelessness as their non-transgender peers, according to new data collected by the Centers for Disease Control.
The data, based on the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey distributed to schools nationwide, was analyzed and released Monday by Schoolhouse Connection, an advocacy group that tracks data and policy related to LGBT youth.
It was the first time that the CDC survey contained enough data to single out the experiences of transgender youth. Homeless transgender students were also more likely to be forced into sexual activities than their peers, according to the analysis.
Overall, LGBT young people were 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, according to the analysis. They were also more likely to be bullied on campus and miss school.
The group recommends that schools enforce anti-bullying policies; invite local LGBT groups to advise on campus policies, curriculum and activities; and work on creating a positive campus climate that benefits all students.—Carolyn Jones
Monday, June 7, 2021, 3:19pm
The chairman of the Assembly Education Committee has pulled back a highly contested bill to expand the regulation of charter schools that opponents characterized as a vast overreach.
Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell said that he agreed to withdraw Assembly Bill 1316 based on an understanding with Gov. Gavin Newsom to extend an expiring two-year moratorium on non-classroom-based charter schools. That would provide additional time to work on his bill, he said.
Newsom’s proposed trailer bill, which fills out details on the state budget, would extend the moratorium for three years. It would push action on what would be a contentious issue beyond the 2022 election cycle.
“I am pleased to support a working agreement with the Governor to extend the moratorium on the approval of new nonclassroom-based charter schools,” he said in a statement Monday. “It’s clear that we need to reform nonclassroom-based charter schools given the scope of fraud that’s been uncovered and the lack of oversight and safeguards that are needed to prevent future fraud.”
O’Donnell had said the bill responded to cases of financial fraud involving non-classroom-based charters, defined those in which less than 80% of instruction is in-person. The most egregious involved the now-defunct A3 charter school network, a solely online operation. Its two founders pleaded guilty in February to misappropriating more than $200 million in state funding through phony enrollment schemes and illegal contracts. Some small districts fattened their budgets by chartering A3 schools and then failing to monitor them.
AB 1316 would have tightened accounting requirements and banned small districts from chartering schools exceeding their own enrollments. But some of its restrictions would have affected all charter schools, significantly raising monitoring fees and cutting 30% of state funding for all non-classroom-based charter schools, including popular hybrid schools that combine in-person and distance learning.
Opposition from the California Charter Schools Association and the Charter School Development Center was fierce. Other than support from the the California Teachers Association, organizations representing school boards and administrators had not yet taken a position.
Meanwhile, a more targeted bill, Senate Bill 593, by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Danville, would tighten monitoring and auditing of charter schools and training of auditors. It passed the Senate without opposition and heads to the Assembly.—John Fensterwald
Monday, June 7, 2021, 10:36am
The Los Angeles Unified school board may soon consider a proposal “to begin the process of building affordable housing for school teachers and staff,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said during a Monday morning broadcast.
The project, which is scheduled to be presented to the school board this week, will create 2,000 units of affordable housing. But first, the school district will request $1.5 million in general funds to perform “due diligence activities,” which include performing needs assessments, appraisals of district properties, and identifying housing options.
Beutner cited long commute times and lack of affordable housing in the neighborhoods where L.A. Unified teachers and staff work. He provided a few general examples of L.A. staff with long work commutes: a school administrative assistant whose commute from Perris to Los Angeles can take 2.5 hours one way, a window/wall washer commuting 2.5 hours one way from Riverside to Gardena, and a teacher living in Santa Clarita who commutes 1.5 hours one way to work in Los Angeles.
After performing the due diligence activities, the district anticipates presenting their findings and recommendations to the school board during the first quarter of 2022.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Friday, June 4, 2021, 2:32pm
California teachers are now able to share teaching strategies and resources, and support one another on an online platform called California Educators Together, launched by the California Department of Education and Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation.
“During the pandemic, just like our students, educators were no longer able to collaborate in person with their peers,” said Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We saw this as a challenge that needed to be solved.”
Users can share lesson plans, curriculum, and other resources with each other in addition to accessing resources for such topics as literacy and mental health, and event updates from their respective school districts, according to a press release from the Department of Education.
The program was funded by the AT&T Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.—Diana Lambert
Friday, June 4, 2021, 1:59pm
A stimulating learning environment during the first five years of life shapes the brain in ways that are visible four decades later, say Virginia Tech and University of Pennsylvania scientists writing in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, as Science Daily reported.
The researchers used structural brain imaging to detect the developmental effects of linguistic and cognitive stimulation beginning in infancy. While the impact of an enriched environment on the brain had already been shown in animals, experts say this is the first study to find a similar result in humans.
“Our research shows a relationship between brain structure and five years of high-quality, educational and social experiences,” said Craig Ramey, professor and distinguished research scholar with Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “We have demonstrated that, in vulnerable children who received stimulating and emotionally supportive learning experiences, statistically significant changes in brain structure appear in middle age.”
The study followed children who have continuously participated in the Abecedarian Project, an early intervention program Ramey began in 1971 to study the effects of educational, social, health, and family support services on high-risk infants. Both the comparison and treatment groups received extra health care, nutrition, and family support services. However, starting at six weeks of age, the treatment group also received five years of high-quality educational support.
Later, in their late 30s to early 40s, participants took MRI scans that gave researchers a unique look at how childhood experiences clearly shape the adult brain.
“People generally know about the potentially large benefits of early education for children from very low resource circumstances,” said co-author Sharon Landesman Ramey, professor and distinguished research scholar at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. “The new results reveal that biological effects accompany the many behavioral, social, health, and economic benefits reported in the Abecedarian Project. This affirms the idea that positive early life experiences contribute to later positive adjustment through a combination of behavioral, social, and brain pathways.”—Karen D'Souza
Friday, June 4, 2021, 12:34pm
A lawsuit alleging that California failed to provide equal learning opportunities to low-income students and Black and Latino students during the pandemic will begin hearings at the Superior Court on Friday.
Earlier this year, a group of families and advocacy groups sued California, charging that students still lacked the necessary technology to access online courses as well as emotional support during the global pandemic. Fifteen students are listed as plaintiffs ranging from a kindergartner to a high school senior. The State of California, the State Board of Education, the Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
“For students without homes, school is now wherever they can find an internet connection. The change in the delivery of education left many already-underserved students functionally unable to attend school,” the lawsuit reads. “Due to the State’s insufficient attention to the actual circumstances of remote learning, Black and Latinx students from low-income families are being deprived of their fundamental right to a free and equal education guaranteed by the California Constitution.”—Sydney Johnson
Friday, June 4, 2021, 12:31pm
Following weeks of recent violence between Israel and Palestine, the San Francisco teachers union is calling for a boycott of Israel, according to a May 19 letter from United Educators of San Francisco. The union voted in mid-May to endorse the boycott and called on President Joe Biden to cease aid to Israel.
“As public school educators in the United States of America, we have a special responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because of the 3.8 billion dollars annually that the US government gives to Israel, thus directly using our tax dollars to fund apartheid and war crimes,” the letter reads.
The political declaration in San Francisco drew immediate and heated criticism from parents, local Jewish leaders and the national Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy organization.
While many teachers came out in support of the statement, other parents and teachers were disappointed in the union’s decision.
“The teachers union has failed in its most basic mission this year, opening schools and educating San Francisco’s children,” said Todd David, a district parent who is Jewish, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Instead of focusing on that, they are weighing in on an international political land dispute that experts have been unable to resolve for 70 years.”—Sydney Johnson
Thursday, June 3, 2021, 3:58pm
California Assembly members passed legislation today that would strengthen a current law that allows Native American students to wear cultural items at their high school graduations.
“Despite existing protections in state law, local school officials continue to object when students wish to wear items such as eagle feathers, sashes with basket designs, basket caps or beaded medallions during graduation ceremonies,” saidAssemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, the author of Assembly Bill 945.
In 2018 legislators passed Assembly Bill 1248, which authorized a student to wear tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance at graduation ceremonies.
The new bill would require the California Department of Education to convene a task force to gather information from students who were denied the right to wear traditional tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance at school graduation ceremonies.
The task force will develop recommendations on how to best implement the law and submit a report with its findings by April 1, 2023.
“High school graduations are times of great celebration, especially in tribal communities because tribal kids have the lowest graduation rates of all ethnic groups,” Ramos said. “Our students have a 75.8 percent graduation rate, compared to the 84.3 percent statewide rate. Eagle feathers and other symbols of Native American significance are often presented by a proud community to the student as a way to recognize a personal achievement, It is a means for the tribe not only to honor the student but to share in and express pride in the graduate’s achievement.”
The Assembly bill must still be voted on by the Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes a law.—Diana Lambert
Thursday, June 3, 2021, 2:13pm
Don’t count on an extra $8 billion that Gov. Gavin Newsom promised last month in his May revised state budget proposal would go to community colleges and K-12 districts. The unexpected gift to education would be the price that state government pays to comply with a Proposition 13-era initiative designed to limit the growth of government.
But Assembly and Senate budget leaders deftly calculated an end-run around the 1979 Gann Limit and expunged the state’s obligation from their joint budget proposal that they announced this week. There’s a good chance it may not surface in the final state budget that they negotiate with Newsom later this month.
The Gann Limit, which voters modified in1990, restricts the annual growth of government spending to the combination of population growth and the per capita growth in personal income. When state revenue exceeds that two straight years, half must be rebated to taxpayers and half to schools and community colleges.
The Gann Limit has come into play only once before, in 1987, but Newsom’s finance officials calculated that an explosion of tax receipts from the capital gains of the wealthiest taxpayers would trigger it next year. Half of the excess $16 billion would be distributed in 2021-22 as the Golden State Stimulus 2, payments of up to $1,100 for those earning up to $75,000 per year, and the other $8 billion would go to schools and community colleges in 2022-23, under Newsom’s revised May budget proposal.
But a semantical distinction apparently would apparently make a difference. By classifying the Golden State payments as tax cuts, not tax rebates, the Assembly-Senate budget would raise spending and decrease revenues. And the Legislature’s proposed budget would make other accounting changes suggested by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in an April report that would bring the state under the Gann Limit. Thus, there would be no requirement for a one-time payout to schools.
With more than $30 billion in federal and state stimulus and Covid relief coming their way, school districts can’t claim they’ll be short of cash over the next few years. But that $8 billion could provide a cushion for a slowdown in revenue or a recession, whenever that happens.
It’s not clear yet whether Newsom will contest the legality of the Legislature’s approach and what position organizations representing school districts will take.—John Fensterwald
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 3:24pm
High school students demonstrated a near-total inability to detect fake news on the internet, researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Education found in the largest study of its kind.
Rather than use a survey of students’ online media skills, the researchers devised tasks for 3,446 high school students who matched America’s student demographics. They were shown an anonymously produced video on Facebook claiming to show ballot stuffing during Democratic primary elections and were asked to determine whether it provided strong evidence of voter fraud. Less 0.1% percent were able to determine that the video actually featured footage of voter fraud in Russia.
Asked to analyze a website proclaiming to “disseminate factual reports” about climate change, 95% failed to discover the publisher’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. Instead, they were easily swayed by the website’s appearance, domain name, or the volume of information on the website, not its quality. The study was published this week in the journal Educational Researcher.
“This study is not an indictment of the students — they did what they’ve been taught to do — but the study should be troubling to anyone who cares about the future of democracy,” Joel Breakstone, the study’s lead author, said in an article on the Stanford website. “We have to train students to be better consumers of information.”
Breakstone directs the Stanford History Education Group, which created the Civic Online Reasoning curriculum, which teaches students to determine inaccurate information on the internet (go here for an EdSource story about it).—John Fensterwald
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 12:12pm
On the heels of state officials calling for big investments in the early childhood arena, Head Start California is calling for lawmakers to earmark $50 million for the organization in the 2021-22 budget.
Spurred by the unprecedented state surplus, legislators and the governor have pushed to invest in programs such as transitional kindergarten, or TK, and state-subsidized child care. That’s why Head Start officials are now asking for help as TK expands and takes away some of the 4-year-olds it currently serves.
“We applaud Gov. Newsom’s commitment to increasing access to early childhood learning and care for California’s families, and we agree that a deep and permanent investment is long overdue. To ensure that Head Start can continue to serve the thousands of children and families who rely on us, as well as expand access to those who need our services, now is the time for the state to invest in Head Start,” said Christopher Maricle, executive director of Head Start California. “The $75 billion budget surplus is an unprecedented opportunity for California to provide early childhood services to more families as soon as possible.”
Many early childhood advocates agree. More than 50 organizations, from the California Federation of Teachers to First 5 California, signed a letter to legislators. They make the case that Head Start, which now serves about 100,000 low-income children, needs more state funding to remain strong as TK expands. Because they can not easily shift their funding to serve more 0-3 year-olds, Head Start officials say this shift may destabilize the organization.
“Without additional fiscal support that is equitable to the support provided to other parts of the mixed-delivery system,” they write, “the ability of Head Start programs to accommodate this change will be jeopardized.”—Karen D'Souza
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 10:43am
A group of parents who pushed for California public schools to reopen during the pandemic are now forming a nonprofit organization to influence state education policy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The group, OpenSchoolsCA, is led by Megan Bacigalupi, a parent in Oakland Unified and an attorney who previously worked at the mayor’s office in New York City. Advisers include current and former local school board members and a charter school consultant and advocate, David Castillo.—Zaidee Stavely
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 10:42am
More than 22,000 students in San Diego County still don’t have reliable access to high-speed internet at home, according to a survey conducted by the San Diego County Office of Education.
As reported by Voice of San Diego, county officials are rushing to try to get them connected now, because it may become less of a priority after schools reopen.
It’s unclear exactly how many students statewide still don’t have reliable internet access.—Zaidee Stavely
Tuesday, June 1, 2021, 7:04pm
A state task force studying how to pay reparations for slavery to Black residents met for the first time Tuesday.
The task force, charged with ultimately recommending proposals for reparations to descendants of slaves and others affected by slavery, was created as part of legislation signed into law last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom and authored by Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who was in the state Assembly at the time.
“You’re here today not just to sit and answer to say was there harm, but your task is to determine the depth of the harm and the ways in which we are to repair that harm,” Weber told members of the task force on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There has been enough research for the fact that slavery still has an impact today.”
In addition to recommending how to pay reparations, the task force will also recommend ways to educate California residents about the task force’s findings, according to The Mercury News.
The form the reparations will take is not yet clear but could include cash, land or scholarships, according to The Mercury News. The task force must publish a report by June 2022.—Michael Burke
Tuesday, June 1, 2021, 2:03pm
Lecturers at the University of California have voted to authorize a possible strike as they seek more pay and better job stability.
UC-AFT, the union representing non-tenured faculty across the system, said Tuesday that 96% of its members voted to authorize the strike. The vote does not mean that the union will immediately go on strike but does mean that members of the union’s negotiation team could now decide to call a strike if UC management doesn’t satisfy the union’s concerns in negotiations.
“This vote is a testament to our unity and strength,” UC-AFT organizer Caroline Luce said in a statement. “It serves as a collective expression of our hope that there remains a possibility for progress at the negotiating table.”
The union is advocating for lecturers to receive a 3% cost-of-living pay raise and also wants UC to renew the contracts of lecturers when they expire. UC-AFT President Mia McIver said in a statement Tuesday that “thousands of phenomenal lecturers lose their jobs each year.”
Although campuses are offering a summer session, the union said the strike “would not be called before the fall quarter and likely for no longer than a week.”—Michael Burke
Thursday, May 27, 2021, 12:43pm
Summer school classes at San Diego Unified are in high demand. About 25,000 students have signed up for summer school — about 12 times the number of a typical year, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The district has received $450 million in federal relief funds, as well as state Covid relief dollars. It plans to expand its summer programs to all students this year using $31 million from state funds designated for learning loss.
Summer school programing will include enrichment classes such as art, music, surfing and circus arts, as well as academic classes, according to the article. The district also is partnering with 65 nonprofits to offer programs.
The district usually offers classes only to high school students who need credits and to special education students. Classes will be offered in-person and online.
Thursday, May 27, 2021, 11:11am
Students who spent most of the 2020-21 school year in distance learning were more likely to fall behind academically and to be absent than students who spent most of the year on campus, according to a recently published Rand report.
A survey of teachers and principals found that schools that were primarily in distance learning last school year covered less curriculum, had more absenteeism and lower achievement in mathematics and English language arts.
Researchers found that schools that were fully remote during the 2020-21 school year tended to serve a higher percentage of students of color and students from low-income families.
Students who were taught remotely were absent and did not complete assignments twice as often as students who were taught on campuses full time, according to the teachers surveyed.
A third of the principals reported that they would continue to offer remote instruction to students who want it after the pandemic.—Diana Lambert
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 1:08pm
Outbreaks of a variant of Covid-19 in the U.K. have some public health experts looking into whether schoolchildren are particularly vulnerable, according to CNN.
It is extremely rare for Covid-19 to cause serious illness in children. However, since children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against the virus, and some variants may be more contagious, it is possible some variants are infecting children more frequently than in the past. In the U.K, a variant first found in India, B.1.617.2, has caused some outbreaks, particularly among school-age children.—Zaidee Stavely
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 1:06pm
A group of civil rights leaders are pushing Los Angeles Unified to take steps to prevent and stop anti-Asian bullying and attacks.
In response to a rash of incidents in which students attacked or bullied other students for being Asian, the civil rights leaders are asking for the district to take a number of actions, according to LAist, including:
- Developing bystander intervention training for teachers and other staff in partnership with community organizations;
- Adopting restorative justice responses, not harsh punishments;
- Making the district’s mental health hotline accessible in Asian languages.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 11:16am
Most families can expect to see monthly child tax credit payments beginning July 15, but for single-parent households, as NBC reported, an overlooked aspect of the American Rescue Plan will leave them with a smaller check than married households with the same income. Now a group of Democrats led by Rep. Katie Porter of California has introduced legislation to equalize the income cap for single and two-parent households.
“No child should receive less nutritious food or less secure housing just because their parent isn’t married,” said Porter, a single mom of three school-age kids. “There’s no discount for single parents at grocery stores, child care centers, or doctors’ offices, yet the child tax credit gives less help to single-parent families.”
Given the way the tax credit is currently structured, single parents filing as heads of their household stop receiving the full benefit when their gross adjusted income hits $120,500 per year. The benefits don’t phase out for two-parent households until $150,000. The result is that a single parent of three making $130,000 per year gets less from the child tax credit than a two-parent household with the same number of children earning $150,000. Porter and others argue this is unfair.—Karen D'Souza
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 9:39am
California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom will launch a new 10-week summer book club starting June 7 in partnership with local libraries throughout the state, she announced Wednesday.
The First Partner’s Summer Book Club will feature 23 books for children ages 3-12 that teach children social and emotional learning tools and highlight key values such as diversity, self-love and acceptance, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. Some of the featured books are New York Times Bestseller Eyes That Kiss in the Corner, Outside Inside and Laxmi’s Mooch.
The California State Library is funding a bookshelf of books from the First Partner’s Summer Book Club list for every library.
“Summer reading programs are crucial tools to keep our children engaged and help unlock their curiosity and passion for learning,” Newsom said. “Through these fun, free summer activities, entire families can build community connections, while children establish a solid foundation for the next academic year.”
Newsom or a special guest will go live every Monday on the Governor’s YouTube Channel for a virtual story time, reading from the books. Local libraries will also hold their own summer reading activities as part of the statewide book club.
Children who tune into the virtual story time or read a book from the club’s booklist will be awarded a First Partner’s Summer Book Club badge through their local library’s summer reading program.—Ali Tadayon
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 3:48pm
The University of California Irvine will begin offering a Spanish Bilingual Authorization Program this summer to help meet the state’s increasing need for K-12 bilingual teachers. The demand for bilingual teachers has increased recently as dual language immersion programs have grown in popularity.
In K-12 dual immersion programs students are taught in both English and a second language, helping them achieve academic and bilingual proficiency while also developing sociocultural competence, according to a press release from the university.
The program, which is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, is a collaboration between the university’s School of Education and School of Humanities. Teachers in California are required to have this authorization in order to teach English learners.
As part of the program students will work with a teacher in a dual language immersion classroom at Anaheim Elementary, Capistrano Unified, Garden Grove Unified, Magnolia, Newport-Mesa Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified or Santa Ana Unified school districts.
“In the last few years, UCI has become a hub for bilingualism studies and research in Southern California,” said Julio Torres, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the minor. “We are thrilled that this includes the preparation of future teachers in dual immersion schools who will have gained the knowledge and experience to promote the development and sustainability of a bilingual student population in California.”—Diana Lambert
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 2:40pm
Link copied.California community college students earning degrees or transferring increased in 2019-20
The number of California community college students who earned degrees or credentials and the number of students who transferred to University of California or California State University campuses increased in 2019-20, the community college system’s chancellor said Tuesday.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the chancellor overseeing California’s 116 community colleges, told the system’s Board of Governors that the number of students transferring to UC or CSU increased by 4% in 2019-20. At the same time, the number of students who received a credential increased by about 3% and the number of students who earned an Associate Degree for Transfer went up by 13%.
“We will continue to work with our partner institutions to streamline the transfer process and to improve fairness and transparency, resulting in more students who meet all the requirements of transfer successfully transitioning to four-year colleges and universities,” Pamela Haynes, president of the Board of Governors, said in a statement.
Data on transfer rates and the number of students earning degrees or credentials during the current 2020-21 academic year is not yet available. The system has experienced a steep decline in enrollment across many of its colleges due to the pandemic.—Michael Burke
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 2:07pm
Link copied.State Senate proposes slashing out-of-state enrollment at University of California in half
California’s state Senate is proposing that the University of California cuts its share of out-of-state and international students by almost half, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
Under the proposal, which UC leadership opposes, the system of nine undergraduate campuses would decrease the share of out-of-state incoming freshman from current levels of 19% to 10% by the 2033-34 academic year.
The reductions would happen gradually beginning in fall 2022. By doing so, it would make room for more California residents in the UC system, allowing almost 4,600 in-state students to secure spots in each freshman class 2033, the Times reported.
“It’s not about ending out-of-state students — they really add to the mix and the educational experience,” Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, told the Times. “We just have to make sure there’s enough spaces for in-state students.”
In a statement to the times, UC said it understands “the Legislature’s goal of providing more opportunities for Californians at UC” but added that the specific proposal to reduce out-of-state students “will potentially lead to unanticipated outcomes.”—Michael Burke
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 1:01pm
American 4th-graders saw a slight dip in science scores on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress assessment, scores released today show. Middle and high school students, however, showed no significant changes compared to the last results available from 2015 and 2009.
The science assessment is administered to a nationally representative sample of 4th, 8th and 12th grade students and measures their knowledge in three scientific domains — Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Sciences.
The pre-pandemic data shows that among 12th-grade students nationwide, only 22% scored proficient or above, and scores have changed little in the last decade. About 41% of 12th-grade students did not meet the “basic” level in science, up 1% since 2015, and 69% of Black students and 56% of Hispanic students performed below “basic.”
About 35% of 8th-grade students scored proficient or above, similar to 2015. And 36% of 4th grade students met proficiency, down from 37% in 2015.
Scores declined across 4th grade student groups, including both boys and girls, and white and Black students. At the 8th grade level, scores increased among Black and Hispanic students since 2015, narrowing the scores gap between those student groups and their white peers. But wide gaps continue to persist: 46% of white students scored proficient or higher in 2019, compared to 21% of Hispanic students and 13% of Black students.
“As we have seen so clearly during the Covid-19 crisis, science literacy matters now more than ever. Not every child will grow up to be a scientist, but every child deserves access to a high-quality science education that provides them the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens,” said Erika Shugart, executive director of the National Science Teaching Association. “Unfortunately, until we begin the serious work of addressing equity for all students and ensuring that science is a higher priority for many of our nation’s schools, starting at the elementary level, we can anticipate that lackluster NAEP scores will continue for many years to come.”—Sydney Johnson
Monday, May 24, 2021, 5:29pm
Link copied.California Community Colleges faculty, students speak in support of ethnic studies requirement
Dozens of public commenters voiced support Monday for a proposal to require students at California’s community colleges pursuing an associate degree to take a three-unit class in ethnic studies.
The Board of Governors that oversees California’s 116 community colleges held a public hearing Monday on that proposal, which could go into effect for students entering the college system in fall 2022. The board is expected to vote to approve the requirement at its July meeting.
If that happens, every student pursuing an associate degree would need to take a class in Native American studies, African American studies, Asian American studies or Latina and Latino studies.
Manuel J. Vélez, chair of the Chicano Studies program at San Diego Mesa College, wrote in a public comment submitted to the Board of Governors that ethnic studies programs “serve a fundamental and essential purpose that has become increasingly and alarmingly clear in recent years.” Vélez added that the proposal reflects a “statewide and institutional commitment to ethnic studies and to addressing the systemic and structural racism that continue to plague our country and our educational systems.”
Dolores Davison, president of the Academic Senate for Community Colleges, said the proposal is “long overdue” and called it a first step for California’s community colleges “to combat issues of systemic racism.”
Beatriz Espinoza, a student at California State University Channel Islands, also spoke in support of the change. Espinoza, who transferred from Los Angeles Mission College and is majoring in Chicano studies, said that taking ethnic studies classes “has impacted me in different positive ways.”
“I was able to learn about the injustices that have been happening to us in the past as well as contemporary things that are are currently affecting us, specifically to our underserved communities. It also has encouraged me and motivated me to be a student leader,” said Espinoza, who was formerly the president of the Associated Student Organization at Los Angeles Mission College.
No one spoke in opposition of the ethnic studies proposal.—Michael Burke
Monday, May 24, 2021, 2:57pm
Masks can come off for most indoor and outdoor settings as of June 15 in California, but the California Department of Public Health has not issued guidance yet on whether masks will be required in schools this summer and fall.
But with California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly stating last week that individual counties can choose to continue with their own local mask mandates after June 15, already the jockeying on the issue has begun.
California overall currently has the lowest Covid infection rate in the nation, and young children are the least likely to become infected and transit the virus. But with only children over 12 eligible for vaccinations, the potential for spreading Covid within a school remains a worry for some staff and parents vulnerable to the disease.
In its opening bargaining position with Los Angeles Unified, United Teachers Los Angeles is demanding that the district continue Covid safety protocols, including masking requirements, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting of school facilities, and ongoing Covid-19 testing.
On Monday, in his weekly message to the community, Superintendent Austin Beutner indirectly responded by saying, “We expect students and staff will continue to wear masks until more children have been vaccinated, just as Dr. Anthony Fauci has recently stated. But August is still three months away and we can’t predict exactly what standards health authorities will tell us are appropriate at that time.”
In some counties, parents are pressing for removing the mask mandate now. Informed Parents of California organized a rally outside of the Placer County Office of Education Monday calling for officials to lift the mandate.
Jessica Stonehocker, a mother of three children in Rocklin, told the Sacramento Bee, “I don’t believe children wearing masks for 6-1/2 hours a day, five days a week, is physically or mentally healthy. My daughter tells me that it is hard for her to concentrate at school with her mask on. She says that it is difficult to breathe, has to constantly pull it up, she gets really hot, and complains of headaches.”
Nether Rocklin, Sacramento nor the other four counties in the capital region have their own mask regulations, relying for now on the state.
Melissa Brown, a parent in West Sacramento who is undergoing treatment for a rare, incurable blood cancer, told the Bee that her 12- and 8-year-old sons will continue wearing masks in school even if schools loosen mask guidelines.
“I know they said we can be around vaccinated people, but we don’t know who is and who isn’t,” she said. “We see it more as taking care of each other than seeing it as someone telling us what to do.”—John Fensterwald
Monday, May 24, 2021, 12:18pm
As are other superintendents who are retiring in high, if not record, numbers this year, Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Diann Kitamura is worn out from the challenges of guiding her district through a pandemic.
But few district leaders have had to deal with the series of calamities that Kitamura has faced during her 5½ years as superintendent of the 16,000-student district. If she were a military leader, her uniform would be covered with Meritorious Service Medals for the campaigns she led: the devastating Tubbs fire in 2017, followed by the Kincade fire in 2019 and the Glass fire in 2020 that destroyed more than 800 students’ and staff members’ homes.
Having reached age 62, Kitamura, a well-respected leader in Sonoma County, is calling it quits, ostensibly to care for her elderly mother. But, she acknowledged in a profile by Education Week writer Stephen Sawchuk, the frustration of dealing with changing, perplexing Covid health guidelines and the stress of parents’ irreconcilable, conflicting demands to reopen schools have gotten to her.
“For me, I don’t want to become bitter. I don’t want to become angry about the people I love and adore, with a community I adore,” she said. “It’s better for me, just knowing how much I know about the community and schools, to let someone come in and have a fresh brain about it all.”
Although she is fourth-generation born in Yuba City, Kitamura experienced the struggles of low-income English learners who comprise a third of elementary students in her district. Her mother and siblings spent World War II in an internment camp for Japanese Americans, and she was raised for a time in a resettlement camp, where, interacting with farmworkers from Mexico, she learned Spanish and spoke it fluently, along with English and Japanese. Despite being multi-lingual, she was put in a lower reading track with other non-white kids. She eventually pursued a teaching credential in agriculture at Chico State, with a commitment to raising all students’ expectations.
One of her legacies is the Integrated Wellness Center. Created in the wake of the Tubbs fire, its free counseling and social services will position the district to respond to the post-pandemic needs of students and their families this fall.—John Fensterwald
Monday, May 24, 2021, 8:51am
Los Angeles students will be able to attend full-day, in-person classes five days a week when the upcoming school year begins in August, according to Superintendent Austin Beutner. Middle and high school students will also change classrooms for each period during their school day. Plus, all students will have access to after-school programs from the end of the school day until 6 p.m. every evening.
It will be the first time such a schedule has been an option for the state’s largest school district since it shut down in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. The roll-out of this updated schedule, however, will depend on Covid-19 transmission and vaccination rates as the summer progresses.
“While we have some sense of what school will look like, our COVID crystal ball is not perfect. The good news is infections continue to decrease, more people are being vaccinated and health authorities tell us conditions should continue to improve,” Beutner said in a Monday morning update. “Whatever it looks like in the weeks or months ahead, we will continue to meet or exceed state and local health standards in our schools.”
Students will have the option to remain learning online, however, if they cannot or do not wish to attend school in person. Details have yet to be announced regarding how the online option will be implemented, but it will be made available to students of all grade levels, Beutner said.—Betty Márquez Rosales
Monday, May 24, 2021, 8:49am
Tens of thousands of international college students in California are facing new barriers and anxieties over returning to the U.S. in time for their fall semester, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Backlogs for visas requests and closed consulates are just two of many new challenges that students born and living outside of the U.S. are now struggling to navigate as they seek to return to their American universities. Even after enrollment dips during the global pandemic, California has more international students than most states. USC and the University of California systems together enroll more than 54,000 international students.
Student advocates and higher education leaders are now lobbying the Biden administration to implement more flexible rules for international students, “who bring not only their talent, but also highly coveted tuition revenue and billions of dollars to local economies,” the Times reports.
“The potential of not remedying those concerns promptly is profound, with lingering effects,” UC President Michael V. Drake and all 10 campus chancellors recently wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.—Sydney Johnson
Monday, May 24, 2021, 8:49am
California’s newest in-person community college, Madera Community College, located north of Fresno in the Central Valley, congratulated its first class of graduates this week.
Seventy-seven students walked a socially-distanced commencement state this week at the college, which has operated classes since 1985 but broke away from being a Reedley College satellite campus last summer, becoming California’s 116th community college, the Fresno Bee reports.
The college is awarding 507 degrees and certificates this year. Largely due to the pandemic, however, only about 150 students are planning to participate in graduation events which will span two days. Each graduate could invite three guests and masks were required.
“With everything our family has dealt with, it’s a silver lining,” graduate Heaven Carranza told the Bee about her graduation. “We can have something to celebrate and look forward to.”—Sydney Johnson