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California education news: What’s the latest?

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 9:20 am

Link copied.Expanded child tax credit helped fight hunger, report finds

Parents who received expanded child tax credit payments experienced less food insecurity than those who didn’t, according to a report by the Urban Institute

Child tax credit payments were part of the American Rescue Plan, a Biden administration pandemic-relief program, as Fatherly reported. Payments of up to $300 per month per child were sent to families with qualifying dependents from July to December last year.

According to data compiled from the Urban Institute’s Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, rates of food insecurity dropped from 26.1% to 20% during the months the payments were sent. 

Researchers also found that employment rates between those who got payments and those who didn’t were roughly the same.

“Although some have worried providing the maximum benefit of the CTC to all families might reduce employment, our findings do not suggest this occurred in the near term,” Elaine Maag, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said in a statement, Fatherly reported. “Overall, we see the temporary credits were associated with reduced food insecurity among families with children, without any immediate changes in work effort.”

The Biden administration attempted to extend the monthly payments in light of inflation and other economic pressures, but the Build Back Better Act was ultimately derailed and the beefed-up tax credit expired. 

 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 11:53 am

Link copied.L.A. County approves $6 million to repurpose former juvenile detention facility

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an initial $6 million in funding to repurpose a former juvenile detention facility in the city of Lancaster, now known as the Challenger Memorial Youth Center, into a job training facility. The board also approved partnering with local Antelope Valley College to design the residential and vocational training programs.

Plans for the center include providing vocational training, career training, behavioral health services, and housing for 6-18 months. The center will serve young people ages 18 to 25 who have been in the juvenile justice system, in the foster care system or who are homeless.

The motion for $6 million in funding was introduced by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose constituents live in the county’s fifth and largest district. The effort to repurpose the former detention facility was initially approved by the board in 2018.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 9:39 am

Link copied.California Attorney General submits amicus brief supporting race-neutral admissions policies

California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday submitted an amicus brief in a U.S. Court of Appeals case alongside 15 other state attorneys general supporting a Virginia school board’s race-neutral admissions policy.

Bonta is urging the appellate court to overturn the district court’s ruling in TJ v. Fairfax County School Board, which he said in a statement “threatens to seriously impair the ability of states to implement effective, inclusive policies for all individuals, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or background.”

In question are the admission policies of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which has consistently ranked as one of the best public high schools in the nation, yet only 2% of Black students and 3% of Latino students from the surrounding middle schools were admitted. In response to the inequity, the Fairfax County School Board instituted a policy in 2020 to increase outreach to underrepresented middle schools, eliminate the application fee and grant admission to the top 1.5% of eligible eighth graders from each middle school.

That policy resulted in a dramatic increase in Jefferson High’s enrollment of Black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students. However, it was struck down in a federal district court.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 9:18 am

Link copied.San Francisco Unified to appoint new superintendent from Hayward

Hayward Unified Superintendent Matt Wayne has been picked as the new superintendent of San Francisco Unified, the latter district announced last week.

Wayne’s contract is up for approval at the May 24 San Francisco Board of Education meeting; he is the only finalist in the search to replace Vincent Matthews, who announced his plans to retire last year.

Wayne has served as Hayward Unified’s superintendent for the past six years, and prior to that, he worked as assistant superintendent for education services for Hayward Unified. Before going to Hayward, he oversaw elementary schools for San Francisco Unified for two years. He has also worked as an assistant principal at West Contra Costa Unified and a teacher in New York City.

Wayne’s contract will begin July 1.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 12:01 am

Link copied.Most California teacher preparation programs flunk math instruction

Most California teacher preparation programs are failing to adequately train future teachers to teach elementary school level mathematics, according to a National Council on Teacher Quality report released today.

The organization reviewed 1,100 teacher preparation programs nationwide to determine how much time each spent on math instruction and the content of that instruction. The findings were reported in “Teacher Prep Review: Preparation for Teaching Elementary Mathematics.”

Only eight of California’s 64 teacher preparation programs examined in the report had a passing grade.

Two California State University undergraduate programs, at Bakersfield and Northridge, earned an A-plus. Schools earned a perfect score if they met the recommended instructional hours across all math topics, according to the report.

CSU Chico’s undergraduate program earned an A, and National and Pepperdine universities’ undergraduate programs both earned a C. The graduate programs at San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara were each given a D, as was the undergraduate program at Loyola Marymount University. A score for Stanford University could not be determined.

The rest of the state’s teacher preparation programs were given an F.

Research has found that elementary math skills are a strong predictor of whether a student will  graduate from high school, yet national and international assessments find American public school students continue to struggle to become proficient in math, according to the NCTQ.

“We know how much math matters in setting a foundation for students and closing opportunity gaps,” said Heather Peske, NCTQ President. “The biggest in-school difference we can make for students’ math learning is  to make sure their elementary teachers understand key math content and know how to teach math effectively.”

In contrast to undergraduate programs, the majority of graduate-level programs preparing elementary teachers fail to provide sufficient coursework in mathematics. NCTQ data shows that  the average graduate teacher preparation program spends only 14 hours on mathematics content knowledge,  compared to 85 hours on math content for the average undergraduate program, according to the study.

Diana Lambert

Monday, May 16, 2022, 10:01 am

Link copied.Feds extend time for schools to spend Covid relief funds

The U.S. Department of Education last week extended the deadline an additional 18 months for school districts to spend their Covid relief funds from the American Rescue Plan.

The original deadline was Sept. 30, 2024, but now school districts have until spring 2026 or even longer if they’re encountering “extraordinary circumstances,” according to the department. The extension is to help school districts whose efforts to spend their grant money have been hampered by staffing shortages, inflation and other obstacles.

“Given inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages, we know that districts want to invest these funds wisely, and the knowledge that they have 18 additional months to liquidate funding will hopefully provide them with the assurance needed to move forward with using ARP funds for these contracts and obligations,” Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators,  said, according to K-12 Dive.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, May 16, 2022, 9:54 am

Link copied.Mt. Diablo High to grant diplomas to former students who were interned in WWII

Mt. Diablo High will award retroactive diplomas next week to former students whose educations were interrupted when they were forced into internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Contra Costa County high school will grant the diplomas to the former students, most of whom are now in their 90s, or their families, at its Class of 2022 graduation ceremony May 24. The school plans to award about 40 diplomas.

During World War II, the U.S. forced thousands of Japanese-American citizens into remote internment camps following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many of those citizens lost their homes, businesses and assets in the process. At the time, California had the largest number of Japanese-Americans in the country.

Mt. Diablo’s effort to honor these students is due to the work of ethnic studies teacher Laura Valdez, her students, and Kimiyo Tahira Dowell, who graduated from Mt. Diablo High in 1958 and was interned with her family when she was a toddler. Dowell, Valdez and Valdez’ students studied the school’s 1942 yearbook to identify students who had been relocated, tracked down their families and lobbied the school board for approval.

–Carolyn Jones

 

Carolyn Jones

Friday, May 13, 2022, 9:57 am

Link copied.Students sue Mills College over merger

A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 800 students against Mills College for allegedly illegally misleading them about the upcoming merger with Northeastern University, costing them money and delaying their education.

The college is set to merge with Boston-based Northeastern University on July 1.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, students say the college encouraged students to remain enrolled, and failed to tell them until later that the last time to graduate with a Mills degree would be in 2022, not 2023 as announced, and that once Northeastern took over, many degree programs would be eliminated. They say that as a result, they missed deadlines to transfer to other colleges. They are seeking unspecified monetary compensation.

A Mills spokesperson told the Chronicle that the college’s lawyers have not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

EdSource staff

Friday, May 13, 2022, 9:48 am

Link copied.Department of Interior releases report on Indian boarding schools

After a nine-month investigation, the Department of the Interior released a report this week showing the federal government operated or supported 408 boarding schools across 37 states, between 1819 and 1969, with the goal of forcibly assimilating Native American youth and making it easier to break up and remove tribal lands from Native American people, Native News Online reports.

In addition, the investigation also found 1,000 additional institutions that served the same purpose but were not boarding schools, but day schools, sanitariums, asylums, orphanages, and stand-alone dormitories.

Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to these schools where they had their hair cut, were reassigned English names and were forbidden from speaking their Native languages or practicing their cultures.

“This report confirms that the United States directly targeted American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children in the pursuit of a policy of cultural assimilation that coincided with Indian territorial dispossession,” Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland wrote in a letter accompanying the report. “I believe that this historical context is important to understanding the intent and scale of the Federal Indian boarding school system, and why it persisted for 150 years.”

The investigation identified marked and unmarked burial sites at 53 schools. However, the investigation into burial sites has not been finished, and Newland is recommending a second report to focus specifically on burial sites associated with the federal Indian boarding school system, including the names, ages and tribal affiliations of children buried.

EdSource staff

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 6:54 pm

Link copied.Newsom wants annual progress reports from California colleges

Under a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California’s public college and university systems would be required to submit annual reports to the Legislature and the governor detailing their progress on metrics including graduation rates, reducing achievement gaps and preparing more students for the workforce, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The University of California and California State University will be expected to make progress in those areas in exchange for annual 5% base funding increases over the next five years as part of “multi-year compacts” that Newsom initially proposed in January for the systems. A new addition to the proposal is that, according to the Times, all three of California’s public college systems would submit reports each November to the governor and Legislature outlining their progress on the goals. In addition to UC and CSU, that includes the state’s system of 116 community college system, which will also be expected to make similar improvements.

Unlike with UC and CSU, the governor’s January budget proposal didn’t tie future base funding increases to the community college system meeting its goals. Base funding for the community college system is determined under Proposition 98.

If UC and CSU fail to make progress toward the goals outlined by Newsom, that could result in funding for the university systems being reduced, though it’s not clear if that will happen. Another option, according to the Times, is that the systems could get more resources to help them make progress.

More details about the compacts are expected to be unveiled Friday when Newsom releases his May budget revision.

Michael Burke

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 10:54 am

Link copied.Interest rates on new student loans to rise sharply

The interest rates on new student loans will go up in July, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The hike will be the biggest percentage jump since 2013 and is the result of the Treasury Department’s auction of 10-year notes on Wednesday, the Post reported. The increases were widely anticipated as Treasury yields have risen in response to the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate increases.

Undergraduate students will pay 4.99% in interest on new Stafford loans, up from 3.73%. Graduate students and parents who take on federal debt to help their children pursue a degree will see the interest rate on new PLUS loans rise from 6.28% to 7.54%, the Post reported. The new rates are good only for loans taken out to pay for the 2022-2023 academic year and have no impact on existing education debt.

“If you’re a graduate student borrowing tens of thousands of dollars a year, this [rate increase] is more consequential than for an undergraduate in their first year, when at the most you can only borrow $5,550,” Jason D. Delisle, a senior policy fellow in the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute, told the newspaper.

Thomas Peele

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 4:49 pm

Link copied.LAUSD school board delays Covid-19 vaccine mandate to align with state

The Los Angeles Unified school board unanimously voted Tuesday to postpone its Covid-19 vaccine mandate, aligning itself with the state, which pushed back its mandate last month. The mandate has been delayed until at least July 2023.

This means students 12 and older are no longer required to be vaccinated to attend school in person next year. Currently, 84% of students are at least partially vaccinated, according to district data. This is a significant change from the fall when LAUSD reported that 12% of students 12 and older were at least partially vaccinated.

Employees across schools in the district will continue to be required to be vaccinated.

Kate Sequeira

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 4:28 pm

Link copied.LAUSD to restructure deaf education

Los Angeles Unified unanimously approved a controversial resolution Tuesday that will place all deaf and hard of hearing children ages 0-to-3 in a bilingual ASL and English language program. LAUSD parents will still be able to choose among all available education programs, but the bilingual program will be the default.

Those in favor say the move will elevate and encourage use of ASL in a district they say has never fully embraced it. Those against the resolution say they worry the decision to make the bilingual program the default program will take away parent choice. To quell concerns from opponents, board members added language to the resolution ensuring that all families will be given complete information about their education options.

“That’s the key to this resolution,” said board member Jackie Goldberg, one of the sponsors of the resolution. “Everybody, every parent, dealing with the understanding that their infant cannot hear or hears very poorly has to come to grips with what’s best for their child to do. My resolution does not tell them what to do. It is still their decision.”

The resolution received support from many, including United Teachers Los Angeles and was opposed by many, including Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, whose daughter is hard of hearing. A statement was read on his behalf during the public comments portion.

Those against the resolution argued that ASL might cause barriers between hearing parents and their children and that the move doesn’t take into account those who receive cochlear implants that allow them to hear and speak. Supporters argued that learning ASL would only enhance their speaking abilities.

Kate Sequeira

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 12:00 pm

Link copied.Lodi Unified superintendent to retire after 15-year tenure

Cathy Nichols-Washer, the longest-serving superintendent among California’s largest school districts, announced Tuesday she plans to retire at the end of next school year.

Nichols-Washer has worked in education for 37 years, the last 15 as chief of Lodi Unified, a 28,000-student district in the Central Valley that encompasses Lodi, northern Stockton and surrounding rural areas. Prior to joining Lodi, Nichols-Washer was superintendent and a classroom teacher at nearby Manteca Unified.

“It is a privilege and honor to serve in this leadership position and I am grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people who care deeply about the children in Lodi Unified,” Nichols-Washer said. “With the health pandemic situation improving, I think it is a good time for a new leader to start.”

In Lodi, Nichols-Washer is credited with increasing student achievement, expanding career and technical education, bolstering counseling services and other improvements.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Washer at the helm for almost 15 years. It is uncommon for a superintendent to be this dedicated and invested long-term in a community, its students, and its staff,” said Lodi Unified’s board president, Sue Macfarlane. “She has left an indelible mark on our district and our entire Board and community are appreciative of her years of service.”

Nichols-Washer is also among the highest-paid superintendents in California. In March, the board voted to raise her salary to $291,000 as part of her updated contract, her second raise in less than a year. The teachers union protested the raise, saying the district needed to boost salaries for teachers and other staff before hiking pay for administrators.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 8:58 am

Link copied.Report questions future of the California public education system

The sustainability of the state’s public education system is questioned in a new report from the Berkeley Institute for Young Americans. Part of the California 100 initiative, administered by the Goldman School of Public Policy, the report finds that long-term structural challenges in the state’s finance system, combined with flaws in education governance, threaten the long-term outlook of public education. 

The analysis examines how California manages and funds the early care and education (ECE), K-12, and higher education systems, to assess the strengths and shortcomings of the system. Two main structural issues in the finance system emerge. These include the inadequacy of the formula to determine funding levels in ECE, K-12, or higher education and the instability of the education finance system, which may falter during recessions, fueling dramatic losses. 

“California has historically underinvested in all parts of the education system, and we all begrudgingly live with the results – not enough subsidized child care seats, low levels of academic achievement in K-12, and rising tuition across higher education institutions,” said Erin Heys, the principal investigator of the project. “Lawmakers today are trying to make up for past underinvestment by using multi-year state budget surpluses to better fund each sector. The problem is that much of the new funding is one-time rather than ongoing, which means that the new money schools and colleges have now will be at risk in a future downturn. This rollercoaster of funding has gone on for far too long. To secure the longevity and success of public education in California, lawmakers must invest in the adequacy and sustainability of the finance system.”

Looking ahead, the rise of alternative education models must also be grappled with, researchers suggest.

“As California sits at the crossroads of change, this report is intended to be a conversation starter for stakeholders to consider what education might look like in California a century from now,” said Sarah Swanbeck, executive director of the Berkeley Institute for Young Americans and co-author of the report.  “Alternative education models are taking root in California today that put into question the longevity of the public system, but there are important tradeoffs that need serious consideration. We encourage readers to consider how student equity, education quality, and the democratic purposes of education are represented in different models and what reforms, if any, may be necessary to steer the system towards a brighter future.”

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 8:57 am

Link copied.California parents dream of college while dreading the cost, survey shows

The majority of California parents want their children to get a college degree, even as they worry about the rising cost of college, according to a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California

Most California parents hope that their child will earn at least a four-year college degree, with four in ten hoping their child will obtain a graduate degree. Parents with higher education levels have higher aspirations for their children’s educational achievement. Parents with lower incomes and lower educational credentials are the most concerned about escalating college costs. 

Nearly all parents with college degrees hope their child will obtain at least a four-year degree, including 58% who hope their child will earn a graduate degree. Nearly half of parents with some college (49%) and fewer parents with a high school education only (31%) hope their child will get a graduate degree.

Expectations rise with incomes as parents making $60,000 or more annually are far more likely than those with lower incomes to hope their child will earn a four-year degree or a graduate degree.

Fewer than two in ten hope their child’s highest level of education will be a two-year community college degree or career technical training.

 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 10:52 am

Link copied.State lawmakers, faculty call on Sonoma State University president to resign

State Senators Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg called on Sonoma State University president Judy Sakaki to step down following a vote of no confidence by the university’s faculty, the Press-Democrat reported Monday.

About 44% of the university’s faculty voted on the no confidence resolution, with 62% of voters in favor, according to the Press-Democrat.

Sakaki has been criticized for how she handled campus sexual harassment allegations against her husband Patrick McCallum, who was a lobbyist for the state’s Fire Victims Trust. Sakaki announced her separation from McCallum last month.

Rohnert Park, the campus’s former provost was paid $600,000 earlier this year to settle a claim she filed alleging that she had been sexually harassed McCallum. Although not a university employee, McCallum was an “official university volunteer,” the Los Angeles Times reported, accompanying his wife at official functions.  Sakaki and McCullum have since separated.

Sakaki has also been criticized for her budget oversight over years of sharp enrollment declines, the Press Democrat reported.

Sakaki, in a statement, said she’s “mindful of the concerns” that prompted faculty to vote for the no confidence resolution, but did not indicate whether she was considering stepping down.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 10:07 am

Link copied.20 Marin County schools hit with Covid outbreaks

As California sees a statewide spike in Covid cases in recent weeks, 20 Marin County schools have seen outbreaks of three or more cases among students or staff, the Marin Independent Journal reported Monday.

Still, Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said he will not be issuing any local mask mandates — for schools or otherwise — at this time.

Officials at some districts have urged parents and students to consider masking indoors amid the surge, according to the Independent Journal. Some have also distributed at-home rapid tests for students and staff.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 9:56 am

Link copied.Pacific Grove Unified likely to reinstate mask mandate

Pacific Grove Unified School District, on the Monterey Peninsula, is poised to reinstate its mask mandate amid a statewide spike in Covid cases.

After the state ended its school mask mandate in March, the district’s school board approved a policy that would require students and staff to wear masks indoors if the area saw a seven-day test positivity greater than 5% and a seven-day average case rate of more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, the Monterey Herald reported.

As of Tuesday, Monterey County had a seven-day test positivity rate of 4.8%, up 1% from the week prior, according to the California’s Covid-19 dashboard. The seven-day average case rate was 10.2 per 100,000.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, May 9, 2022, 9:58 am

Link copied.Dr. Dre gives $10 million for performing arts center at Compton High

Famed rapper Dr. Dre was on hand Saturday at the groundbreaking of a new campus for Compton High School — which will include a state-of-the-art performing arts center he funded, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, donated $10 million to the project. Young grew up in Compton but dropped out of high school, and has often cited regrets about his education. He and music producer Jimmy Iovine have also opened a public magnet school in Los Angeles and a college academy at the University of Southern California.

“I was an artistic kid in school with no outlet for it. I knew I had something special to offer to the world, but with nothing to support my gift, schools left me feeling unseen,” Young said Saturday, the Times reported. “I’ve always wondered how much further ahead I might have been had the resources I needed in school were available.”

The new performing arts center, part of a $200 million new campus for the historic South Los Angeles high school, will be called the Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young Performing Arts Center.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, May 9, 2022, 9:44 am

Link copied.Amid budget crisis, S.F. City College lays off 38 full-time faculty members

San Francisco City College’s board of trustees voted Friday to lay off 38 faculty members in an effort to attain financial stability ahead of an accreditation review, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 25,000-student community college is eliminating 50 faculty positions overall, but 12 are due to retirements. Dozens of part-time instructors will also be let go.

Like many community colleges, San Francisco City College has seen a steep drop in enrollment in the past few years, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The result is a deficit of $65 million since 2017-18, the Chronicle reported.

The trustees voted 4-1 in favor of the cuts. Trustee Alan Wong was the sole dissenter.

“At the end of the day I believe that layoffs should always be a last resort,” Wong said. “I felt that we should have explored other opportunities for mutual compromise first before we went to this measure.”

Carolyn Jones

Friday, May 6, 2022, 2:27 pm

Link copied.U.S. Dept. of Education seeks public input on updating disability rights law

In order to modernize a 45-year-old law that protects students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education is asking the public for their ideas for how to improve the landmark legislation.

This will be the first major update to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the law behind “504 plans” that require schools to accommodate students with disabilities. The department’s Office of Civil Rights is overseeing the updates.

Members of the public can send an email to Section504@ed.gov.

“While the world has undergone enormous changes since 1977, the Department’s Section 504 regulations have remained, with few exceptions, unaltered,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. “As we observe the 45th anniversary of these important regulations this month, it is time to start the process of updating them. Just as in 1977, the voices of people with disabilities must be heard and incorporated as we engage in that work.”

The updates are part of President Biden’s broader push to improve mental health services generally, as rates of depression, anxiety and other conditions have soared — especially among young people — since the pandemic began in March 2020.

–Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones

Friday, May 6, 2022, 1:53 pm

Link copied.Calbright College awards 100th workforce certificate

Calbright College, California’s online-only community college, announced Friday that it had awarded its 100th certificate since opening to students two and a half years ago.

The 100th certificate was the 20th such credential awarded in the college’s newest program in Customer Relationship Management, which launched in August. As of April 20, eight certificates have been awarded in Medical coding, 24 in Cybersecurity and 48 in Information Technology Support.

Calbright opened to students in October 2019 as 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 that assesses students based on their skills and not the amount of time they spend in a class.

However, critics of the college say that too few students have completed Calbright’s programs and that state funding to the college should instead go to the traditional community colleges. As of the end of April, the college reported its enrollment had surpassed more than 1,010 people. The majority of students, more than 65% were reported to be enrolled in information technology courses.

Calbright claims that if students dedicate five to 10 hours a week to their courses they can complete a Calbright program in less than 12 months.

Ashley A. Smith

Friday, May 6, 2022, 10:30 am

Link copied.Proms spark Covid-19 outbreaks in Sacramento schools

After proms and other dances, Sacramento-area schools are reporting increases in Covid-19 infections, according to the Sacramento Bee.

After one prom at C.K. McClatchy High School, 50 positive cases were reported, about half of which had attended prom.

Four other high schools and one K-8 also had a spike in virus cases after dance events.

EdSource staff

Friday, May 6, 2022, 10:21 am

Link copied.State lawmaker requests sexual harassment audit of CSU system

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who chairs the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, is calling for an audit of all sexual harassment policies and subsequent settlements paid to alleged harassers throughout the CSU system.

“The recent sexual harassment allegations involving several CSU campuses, as well as the Chancellor’s Office, is unacceptable and warrants the scrutiny and impartiality that only the State Auditor can provide,” Salas wrote in a statement.

The CSU Board of Trustees supports Salas’ request, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

The CSU system has been embroiled in criticism over how it handles sexual harassment complaints, after it came to light that former Chancellor Joseph I. Castro had allowed Cal State Fresno administrator Frank Lamas to retire, instead of thoroughly investigating complaints against him.

In addition, the CSU system just settled a claim with a Sonoma State provost who reported sexual harassment allegations and retaliation involving the campus president and her husband. And last year, San Jose State University settled with 15 former student-athletes who reported sexual harassment by their trainer.

 

EdSource staff

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 3:49 pm

Link copied.Cal State LA president dismayed by faculty member’s forcible removal

California State University, Los Angeles, President William Covino said that using campus police officers to remove professor Melina Abdullah was unwarranted.

“If I had been consulted, I would not have approved it,” Covino said in a statement released to EdSource Thursday.

Abdullah, a former chair of the campus’ pan-African studies department and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, was forcibly removed by campus police from a mayoral debate Sunday.

The California Faculty Association, the union representing CSU faculty members, Wednesday said the “police aggression” directed at Abdullah was not an “isolated incident” and that this was not the first time campus police have intervened during a “non-violent disagreement between Black, Indigenous, and people of color students, faculty and staff.”

In a statement, the faculty association said the CSU and interim Chancellor Jolene Koester should take immediate action to address systemic racism on the 23 campuses by forming a workgroup of students, faculty and staff to offer recommendations and alternatives to university police.

“I was horrified, but not surprised,” said Breanna Peterson, a CSU Monterey Bay senior with Students for Quality Education, a student advocacy organization. “This is a painful example of police brutality directed against faculty and students of color … and shows that university police are not concerned with safety. If they were, they wouldn’t have dragged out someone sitting peacefully in a chair. We need to provide students the resources they need like access to mental health rather than investing in police who patrol lecture and debate halls.”

Covino said he wasn’t informed of Abdullah’s removal until afterward.

“I apologize for the distress this incident has caused,” he said. “We are and have been revising our protocols and staffing to prevent incidents such as this.”

Ashley A. Smith

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 10:39 am

Link copied.Stanford receives $1.1 billion gift to create climate school

Stanford University has received the largest donation  in its history – a gift of $1.1 billion for the creation of a new school focused on climate change and sustainability, the New York Times reported.

The gift comes from Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, an investor in Google and Amazon who is worth more than $11 billion. It is the second-largest donation to a university in U.S. history, the Times reported, trailing only Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion gift to Johns Hopkins in 2018.

“Climate and sustainability is going to be the new computer science,” Doerr, told the Times. “This is what the young people want to work on with their lives, for all the right reasons.”

The school will be known as the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. It will be home to traditional academic departments related to topics such as planetary science, energy technology and food-and-water security. It will also feature several interdisciplinary institutes and a center focused on developing practical policy and technology solutions to the climate crisis, the Times reported.

EdSource staff

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 10:39 am

Link copied.New policy makes it easier for children to access Head Start programs

As inflation and the expiration of federal child tax credit payments put the squeeze on family budgets and the child poverty rate rises, some relief has arrived for American families struggling to make ends meet. 

In California, families receiving CalFresh benefits are now automatically eligible for Head Start early learning programs. This change will remove significant barriers from the application process for families receiving public assistance, simultaneously reducing burdensome paperwork snarls and increasing access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education.

“Families are more stressed than ever before trying to stay afloat, and this action will help us to reach more families while also reducing the burden on those families to enroll,” said Keesha Woods, executive director of the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Head Start and Early Learning Division.  

Advocates have long championed simplifying the exhaustive process families go through to prove eligibility for aid. As many Head Start participants also receive food aid, accepting that enrollment as proof of Head Start eligibility represents a significant streamlining of the eligibility process. 

“This is a win towards equitable access to early learning opportunities for the many families in Los Angeles County confronted with food insecurity,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo. “Providing young children with a quality early education should not be an additional burden, but an exciting milestone that families can celebrate.”

The shift aligns with President Joe Biden’s executive order that aims to reduce red tape for users of federal services and rebuild trust in government.

“This policy change is wonderful news and has a significant impact on our families,” said Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County superintendent of schools. “With this change in eligibility, our Head Start and Early Head Start programs will increase the number of eligible Santa Clara and San Benito county families by approximately 25%.”

 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 9:21 am

Link copied.Child care is unaffordable in every state, report says

California parents need to cough up roughly $17,000 a year to pay for child care, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Even in the cheapest state in the union for child care—Alabama—it costs 10% of the median household income for someone to look after the little ones.

The high cost of child care, one of the biggest expenses that families face, has real consequences for parents and children. Women often sacrifice upward mobility, and the economic trade-offs can create a situation where low-income parents literally cannot afford to go to work, as the Money Scoop reported. 

The federal government defines “affordable” child care as costing less than 7% of a family’s household income. By this definition, some suggest, every state in the nation is failing to provide this vital resource. 

President Joe Biden had been pushing for an ambitious plan to make child care more affordable for families while also raising the wages of child care workers, as part of his social spending package, but the proposal has gotten bogged down in Congress under conservative opposition.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 9:20 am

Link copied.Well-being of many babies at risk, report finds

If the mental and physical well-being of our nation’s babies and toddlers are powerful indicators of our nation’s overall health, then all is not well for the country’s smallest citizens, according to the “State of Babies Yearbook: 2022.” 

In every state, by nearly every measure, children living in low-income families and children of color face the biggest hurdles, the report suggests. Only 11% of eligible infants and toddlers have access to Early Head Start nationally, according to the annual report from Zero To Three, an early childhood advocacy and research organization, while California provides access to 14%.

California is home to roughly 1,352,608 babies (ages 0 to 3 years), representing 3.4% of the state’s population. As many as 36% live in households with incomes less than twice the federal poverty line (that’s about $52,400 for a family of four in 2020). 

That’s concerning because babies of color and babies in low-income families are more likely to have experiences that produce chronic stress, which can undermine development, the report finds. The effects of this stress can last a lifetime, experts say. 

In terms of heath, California performs better than national averages on key measures, such as the infant mortality rate and the percentage of mothers reporting mental health issues. However, the state is performing worse than national averages on indicators such as the percentages of babies with a medical home and babies receiving recommended vaccinations. It is also doing worse in terms of the percentages of babies living in crowded housing and parents who report living in unsafe neighborhoods.

 

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 6:01 pm

Link copied.Updated TK-12 Covid-19 guidelines go into effect Wednesday in Los Angeles County

Students who have been exposed to Covid-19 but have not shown symptoms are required to wear their masks indoors for 10 days after the exposure beginning Wednesday, according to updated guidelines from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. The department has also altered the definition of close contacts, which could require full indoor classrooms to mask as a result of exposure.

The move comes as the number of Covid-19 cases across the county continues to rise, in part due to a new omicron subvariant. According to a news release from the Department of Public Health, the BA.2 subvariant accounted for 88% of recent L.A. County samples as of Friday. The department has also seen small increases in outbreaks among TK-12 schools.

Though exposure in small indoor spaces will require all those in the area to mask, large indoor airspaces limit close contacts to those in an identifiable group, such as a club or a team, as well as to those who come within 6 feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes. On top of masking, asymptomatic students will also be required to test three to five days after the exposure.

Kate Sequeira

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 4:31 pm

Link copied.LAUSD announces new initiative to combat digital divide

Los Angeles Unified is aiming to provide access to reliable internet for all families. In its latest effort toward closing the digital divide, the district announced a plan for providers to offer broadband service free of cost to families. LAUSD is working with Charter Communications and AT&T on the $50 million deal.

“In an age when teaching and learning is increasingly digital, access to reliable high-speed internet is simply a human right,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in an AT&T news release. “We have a responsibility as educators to ensure every student has the tools needed to access every learning opportunity available, and that includes reliable internet access, around the clock, on- and off-campus.”

According to results from a 2021 survey released by the University of Southern California and the California Emerging Technology Fund, 19% of Los Angeles County has either no connection or relies on smartphones. After classes went online at the start of the pandemic in 2020, LAUSD gave out hot spots to students, but bandwidth was limited. Providers also offered some discounts.

Kate Sequeira

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 9:06 am

Link copied.Oakland school board member resigns, blasts failure to meet students needs

Seven-and-a-half year Oakland Unified school board member Shanthi Gonzales, one of five board members who have been lambasted for supporting controversial school closures earlier this year, announced her resignation Monday in a letter critical of the district’s teachers union and other board members.

Gonzales, in the letter, said most Oakland schools aren’t “meeting students’ academic needs” and that the failure to improve school quality has driven the district’s significant enrollment loss over the last 20 years.

She criticized the school board as a whole for wasting too much meeting time on “issues that, while important, don’t have much to do with how students are doing academically.”

“As long as we are struggling to ensure that students can read at grade level, it is a disservice to our students and families to spend so much time on issues that are not central to our core mission,” Gonzales said.

She also accused leaders of the district’s teachers union, the Oakland Education Association, and their “allies” of “resisting efforts to address school quality” as well as trying to shut down debate on topics they don’t agree with — sometimes “through acts of intimidation.” Her employer was contacted and asked that she be condemned for supporting school closures, she said.

Fellow board member Mike Hutchinson, who did not support the school closures, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was disappointed with how Gonzales characterized the community in her letter and that he “rejects the details of her resignation letter,” including her accusations of OEA and its allies.

Gonzales’ letter didn’t cite these concerns as reasons for stepping down, but rather “reflections on our prospects for serving students and families better.” She made a separate post highlighting some of the district’s successes while she’s been in office, including increasing the graduation rate and the number of graduates who have completed their A-G requirements, as well as expanding services to newcomer students and offering ethnic studies instruction to all high schoolers.

The remaining school board members have 60 days to appoint a replacement for Gonzales or call for a special election, board President Gary Yee said in a news release Monday. Either way, he said, Gonzales’ board seat will be filled before the 2022-23 school year.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 9:04 am

Link copied.Val Verde Unified honored for its system of college and career readiness

Val Verde Unified is one of 13 school districts nationwide that AASA, the national association of school superintendents, designated this week as an exemplary “Lighthouse” school system.

The association is assembling a network of districts that can “serve as beacons of light in key areas of holistic redesign of American education.” A panel of judges examined districts for their performance in eight indicators of excellence, including social, emotional and cognitive growth, diverse educator pipeline, early learning and technology-enhanced learning. Val Verde, a 20,000 student district in Riverside County, where 78% of students are Hispanics, 13% are Black and 83% are low-income, was honored under the category producing future-ready learners.

The genesis of the work, said Superintendent Michael McCormick, was a community process in 2015 to create a portrait of a graduate with skills for college and careers in a region with some of the lowest post-secondary graduation rates in the state. That has guided the rollout of 44 career pathway programs, 1-to-1 computing devices in 2017 for all students, and the conversion of antiquated computer labs to modern ones in every school, with robotics, video production and a focus on engineering design principles, part of the Next Generation Science Standards, starting in elementary grades, McCormick said. Click the following link to read Val Verde’s application to the AASA for recognition.

District staff will participate in a national convening in Washington in June.

John Fensterwald

Monday, May 2, 2022, 10:49 am

Link copied.Charter school teachers in L.A. stage walkout in effort to unionize

Teachers at the largest charter school network in Los Angeles walked off their jobs last week to pressure administrators to recognize their efforts to unionize, according to LAist.

Teachers, counselors and school psychologists at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, which operates more than 20 middle and high schools in Los Angeles, staged the one-day protest at four campuses. Alliance staff have been seeking to join United Teachers Los Angeles — the union that represents staff at Los Angeles Unified — for many years. Alliance administrators have fought teachers’ efforts to unionize.

“We kinda were left with no choice,” Brittany Cliffe, an Alliance science teacher and bargaining representative, told LAist. “If we are serious about bringing [Alliance administrators] to the bargaining table, then we needed to get their attention in a larger way, and that’s ultimately why we’re here.”

Carolyn Jones

Monday, May 2, 2022, 9:57 am

Link copied.Police in Marin disproportionately arrest Black, Latino students, report finds

Black and Latino students in Marin County were arrested or citied far more frequently than their peers from 2017-20, according to a report cited in the Marin Independent Journal.

The report, by the Marin County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission, found that most of the arrests and citations were the result of schools calling the police for assistance, not from officers targeting students.

At Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, for example, students of color make up 60% of the student body population but represent 86% of the arrests or citations, the report found. Similar disproportionalities were found at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael and Novato High School in Novato.

The report recommends that schools adopt more robust restorative justice programs and increase counseling services on campus.

Marin County’s superintendent of schools, Mary Jane Burke, said she agreed with the report’s findings, according to the newspaper.

“The data clearly demonstrates significant needs for more effective mental health interventions for students in crisis, for disrupting the cycle of students of color being disproportionately referred by schools to police and arrested or cited, and for transforming the relationship between our schools and our local law enforcement partners to a more restorative and less punitive approach,” she said.

Carolyn Jones

Friday, April 29, 2022, 1:18 pm

Link copied.McFarland says it’s finalizing plans to move library for its police station

The City Council of McFarland announced that it was finalizing plans to move the community’s library so that it can make room for an expanded police headquarters.

McFarland City Council member Saul Ayon made the announcement during the public comment period of Thursday night’s council meeting. He said the city was moving forward with a plan to move the library to an undisclosed downtown location that would allow the library to expand hours and services for both students and residents. The move will enable the library to be open three days a week instead of two, he said.

“The downtown location will also now be available to provide workforce development programs through partnerships with school districts and community colleges,” Ayon said.

However, Kern County Library’s Andie Sullivan said that she was not aware of any plans to move library services from its current location. She said the city does not have the authority to make a decision on behalf of the county agency.

“Nothing is being changed or moved, at least from the county side,” she said.

Kern County spokesperson Ally Soper confirmed that the county has no intention to move the library at the moment in a statement to EdSource.

“The County currently has no plans to close or move the location of the McFarland Branch Library,” she wrote.

McFarland’s city manager and police chief, Kenny Williams, acknowledged that the city has not come to an agreement with the county.

“In the event we come to an agreement with the county we have the option of moving the library to a building owned by the city and increasing the hours of operation,” he wrote, in an email to EdSource. “The final details still need to be determined.”

Leaders in the small Kern County town have rallied around a proposal to convert the county branch into a police station. Williams said the police station’s current headquarters is cramped and outdated, and moving to the McFarland library would allow the Police Department to expand and modernize. But the city’s plan has faced vocal opposition from residents and library patrons. An online petition to save the McFarland library has received over 1,600 signatures.

McFarland Friends of the Library President Phil Corr said he is concerned by the lack of information about moving the library to a new location. He noted that the city didn’t share details about the new location, a timeline nor what a library transition would look like. The city has referenced money it has from a previous bond for its new police headquarters, but it has not disclosed how much.

Corr said he is concerned that the city will not follow through on its promise of maintaining library services if the Police Department takes over the current location.

“It is so clear to me and the vast majority of the community that the library building is where the library should remain,” he said.

Emma Gallegos

Friday, April 29, 2022, 9:36 am

Link copied.Oakland teachers strike to protest school closures

Oakland teachers are holding a one-day strike Friday to protest the district’s plan to close seven schools and merge or modify others.

Many students and families are joining teachers outside schools. The district asked students not to attend classes because they did not have enough substitutes to cover during the walkout.

The teachers union says the district violated a labor agreement by not consulting with teachers, students and staff before announcing school closures.

The district says the strike is illegal. The district filed for an injunction with the state’s Public Employee Relations Board to try to block the action but was denied.

 

EdSource staff

Friday, April 29, 2022, 9:36 am

Link copied.English language teachers and students protest cuts at SF City College

Instructors and students of English language courses protested Thursday against cuts and layoffs planned at San Francisco City College.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, college leaders are considering laying off 130 faculty members and closing 300 classes to close a $7 million budget gap. Thirty-seven instructors could be cut from the English as a Second Language department.

The newspaper reported that about 60 people gathered on Thursday, shouting, “They say cut back! We say fight back!” and “No elimine ESL!” “Don’t cut English as a Second Language!”

EdSource staff

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 6:39 pm

Link copied.LA educators strike in push for charter network to recognize union

Educators at four schools in one of the largest charter school organizations in Los Angeles held a single-day strike Thursday, calling for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools network to stop ignoring their attempts to unionize. Alliance oversees 26 charter schools across Los Angeles County.

Educators at the schools have attempted to unionize with United Teachers Los Angeles since 2015 and were given the green light to do so in 2020 by the California Public Employee Relations Board, but they say the charter network continues to stall those efforts for negotiation. The charter network is appealing the 2020 decision in court.

“Over the last two years, they’ve repeatedly ignored us at board meetings; they’ve ignored the letters that we sent to them; they’ve ignored our walk-in; and they continue to appeal and appeal decisions,” said seventh grade teacher Brittany Cliffe, a bargaining team representative at Richard Merkin Middle School. “They’ve been ordered three times to bargain with us, and all three times they have appealed it to the next level they could.”

In February, the employee relations board announced that Alliance was in violation of the Educational Employment Relations Act for refusing to recognize and negotiate with the union following changes to its governing structure. Between 2018 and 2019 schools filed and got approved separately to unionize but the reorganization merged the Alliance schools into one entity. Despite that, the employee relations board held that the charter network would have to recognize the initial unionization efforts. 

Alliance said it cannot legally bargain because of the appeal but has offered to connect with UTLA.

Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of UTLA, which represents more than 35,000 educators across Los Angeles Unified and includes educators from several charter networks, called out Alliance management for anti-union tactics and for driving out educators amid a shortage. 

“We know that the best schools are built with educators who have a collective voice and the power to advocate for what their students need; the power to advocate for what we know works,” Myart-Cruz said at the rally. 

Alliance Educators United is pushing for more professional development, more social emotional support and additional psychologists and social workers to support the campuses. But the largest issues, according to many of those who attended the rally near Alliance Gertz-Ressler/Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex, were staff retention and class sizes. 

“If you can’t keep teachers, your students are never going to learn,” Alliance Leichtman-Levine Environmental Science High School visual arts teacher Erin Belefski said. “They need those relationships. Researching systemic issues in a community like this that’s underserved. That’s the number one problem: kids cannot learn when they do not have teachers.”

According to EdData, teachers at Belefski’s school in particular averaged three years working at the campus during the 2018-19 school year.

In a statement, Alliance opposed the decision to strike, calling it a disruption to the education of students and pointed to the appeal that is currently ongoing.

“For two years, UTLA has known that Alliance intends to appeal to the California State of Appeals regarding the ruling that UTLA can bargain contracts at individual alliance schools,” the statement read. “Yet they continue to use our legal right to appeal as an organizing tool to strike at four Alliance schools. A strike harms scholars and families and does nothing to speed up the court’s ultimate decision.”

The strike has been one of many attempts to push for negotiation with the charter network. Though it will only last a day, efforts to continue that push will go on, said Enrique Vasquez, a bargaining team representative who teaches government and economics at Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School.

“We’re going to continue, but we just had to find different methods to get their attention and get the board to start bargaining with us,’ Vasquez said. “Because with how things look in our society right now in the community due to the pandemic, we see more people are organizing. … We see this revival of organized labor. We got history on our side.”

For high school teacher Tyler Kenney, who joined Alliance Leichtman-Levine Environmental Science High School in 2020 when the union was just approved, the recent unionization was a motivating factor for taking the position, which has made the delays difficult.

“It really motivates me to call on Alliance to do what they’re obligated to,” he said. Majority of teachers at all schools have been demanding this for years. I see really good teachers leaving because of the cognitive dissonance that Alliance is showing in claiming that they’re a social justice institution and yet being unwilling to respect labor rights.”

Note: This piece has been updated with comments from Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 3:27 pm

Link copied.L.A. Unified, Office of Civil Rights reach deal on special ed services

Los Angeles Unified must provide extra special education services for about 66,000 students with disabilities who might not have received services they were entitled to during Covid-related school closures, according to a resolution announced Thursday by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

The agreement, which applies to students with Individualized Education Programs as well as 504 plans, requires the district to hold meetings with parents, teachers and other staff to decide what services each students needs, and how schools will deliver those services.

Throughout the state, many students with disabilities fell behind during school closures because specialized services, such as speech or occupational therapy, are nearly impossible to deliver virtually. Under federal disability rights laws, students in special education are entitled to “compensatory” services if there’s an interruption or delay in delivering whatever services are outlined in their IEPs or 504 plans.

The Office of Civil Rights found that Los Angeles Unified didn’t adequately provide compensatory services or track the services that schools were providing.

Disability rights advocates cheered the resolution.

“OCR’s clear and decisive actions make clear that it is LAUSD’s obligation to remedy the damage their poor decisions have wreaked on children and their families,” Denise Marshall, chief executive of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, which was not a party to the case. “We hope today’s decision propels LAUSD and all districts into real-time action to individualize plans for students with disabilities so that each student can access the services they need to make necessary gains.”

A spokesperson for Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district, noted that the agreement only relates to compensatory services, not ongoing services for students with disabilities. As part of the agreement, the district will reach out to parents and keep them informed of the district’s plans, and speed up training for staff members.

“Los Angeles Unified remains dedicated to helping all students, including students with disabilities, recover from the pandemic and achieve their educational goals,” a district spokesperson said.

–Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Jones

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 2:59 pm

Link copied.Los Angeles Unified recommends delaying vaccine mandate

Los Angeles Unified is recommending a delay of its vaccine mandate until at least July 2023 to align itself with the state of California, which announced it was pushing back its own statewide vaccine mandate two weeks ago. The school board will vote on the recommendation on May 10.

Students 12 and older would no longer be required to be vaccinated to attend school in person. If the vaccine mandate were to be implemented, students without the vaccine would have had to enroll in one of the district’s six virtual academies opening next year.

“We know that students do best when learning in the classroom with their peers,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a press release. “Due to the high vaccination rates among students 12 and older, low transmission rates in our schools and our nation-leading safety measures, we have preserved in-person learning in the safest possible environment.”

The California Department of Public Health announced its decision to push back the mandate earlier this month as the state waits for the Food and Drug Administration to fully approve the vaccine for all ages. The FDA has currently only approved the vaccines among children for emergency use.

Employees across schools in the district will continue to be required to be vaccinated.

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 11:13 am

Link copied.Poll: Californians believe quality of public education is worsening amid pandemic

Californians think the quality of education in the state’s K-12 public schools has gotten worse over the past few years with more than 4 in 10 parents believing their children have fallen behind in school during the pandemic, the Public Policy Institute of California found in a poll released Wednesday.

Only 13% of Californians think public schools have improved this year, the poll found, while 42% believe they have gotten worse. Another 42% believe schools have not changed since 2021.

Almost half of parents say they would send their child to a private school or a religious school if cost and location were not an issue, the poll found.

“They are divided on whether the biggest challenge for students is catching up academically or dealing with the pandemic’s social-emotional impacts. Most approve of no longer requiring masks in schools and support requiring COVID vaccines for teachers and students,” the PPIC reported.

Solid majorities of adults (60%) and public school parents (73%) approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handling of education, a trend that dates to 2019.

Similar support surfaced for approval of the state Legislature’s handling of K-12 education with 56% of adults and 71% of public school parents voicing approval. That’s an improvement among public school parents. Last April, 52% said they were much less likely to approve.

 

EdSource staff

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 10:29 am

Link copied.Biden gives strong indication he is willing to cancel some student loans

President Joe Biden “gave his strongest indication yet” that he is nearing a decision to take significant action to relieve student loan debt, The Washington Post is reporting.

In a meeting with House Democrats on Monday, Biden said he is leaning toward debt relief “that could include canceling tens of thousands of dollars in debt for some people,” according to The Post.

Both Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, suspended student loan payments and interest as the nation battled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden signaled multiple times that he was prepared not only to extend the current moratorium but to potentially take executive actions canceling some of the debt altogether, according to two House members in attendance and two aides briefed on the meeting’s contents, The Post reported.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 9:37 am

Link copied.UC Berkeley student faces felony charges for allegedly making threats that caused campus lockdown

A campuswide  lockdown of UC Berkeley on April 21 that cost students nearly a full day of instruction was caused by a student who allegedly threatened to shoot campus staff members and who is now facing two felony charges in state court, the Associated Press reported.

Lamar Bursey, 39, of Hayward, was charged this week “with two counts of felony criminal threats after he allegedly sent an email to several university staff members saying that two of them would be shot if he didn’t get the help he needed,” according to the report. The university placed him on academic suspension.

Charging documents that the Alameda County District Attorney filed in Superior Court allege that Bursey sent an email just before 6 a.m. to several university staff members telling them he had slept outside the previous night and that they were “his resources.”

“I’ll be in the office from aprox 9am to 4pm today. Stop playing with me. Depending on who I feel was helping or not, 2 people on this email will get shot,” Bursey allegedly wrote.

The campus was locked down for more than four hours and classes were canceled for the day. Bursey was later found at a hospital in Oakland and arrested, court documents show.

Thomas Peele

Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 9:02 am

Link copied.The pandemic erased a decade of public preschool gains, report says

State-based preschool programs suffered big drops in enrollment and state funding during the height of the pandemic, according to an annual review by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. If there is any good news in the report, as NPR reported, it may be that federal relief money filled the hole left by states’ spending cuts.

“There is no time to waste. State-funded programs desperately need the resources to address pervasive problems in access to high-quality early learning and to support teachers,” says Allison Friedman-Krauss, NIEER assistant research professor and the parent of a preschooler.

NIEER has been releasing its annual State of Preschool report for two decades now, and this year’s edition, looking at the 2020-2021 school year, offers a dire snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on preschool in the U.S.

“The pandemic wiped out a decade of progress increasing enrollment in state-funded preschool programs,” the report warns, as NPR noted. 

According to the report, nearly 300,000 fewer children were enrolled in preschool during the 2020-2021 school year compared to 2019-2020 – an 18% drop. Given the timeframe, researchers chalk up the drop to pandemic-driven school closures and the challenges of providing preschool remotely.

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 9:01 am

Link copied.Has having children become a privilege in today’s world?

The U.S. birth rate has been falling since 2008, dipping even further during the pandemic, as Business Insider reports. Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from 2019 to 2020, the U.S. birth rate fell by 4% from 2019 to 2020, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979. While the baby bust may not have been quite as vast as predicted, it does mean that the country has about 60,000 fewer babies because of the pandemic.

The reasons are myriad: Women have better access to contraception than they used to as well as the opportunity to prioritize education and career. Some don’t want to bring a child into a world facing numerous climate crises. Others aren’t interested in having kids. And yet, the fact is that children are very expensive in an economy that’s only getting more costly, from child care to the price of college. 

The economics of raising a family in today’s society has made having kids a privilege, Karen Guzzo, professor of sociology and director for family and demographic research at Bowling Green State University, told Insider. “It’s almost like the haves and have-nots in terms of who gets to have children, because it’s so expensive,” she said.

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 7:10 pm

Link copied.Los Angeles Unified school board approves longer 2022-23 school year

The Los Angeles Unified school board approved a calendar for the 2022-23 academic year Tuesday, extending the school year by seven optional days. The calendar includes four extra days of accelerated learning for students meant to provide additional academic support, pushing the end of the school year to June 15. It also includes three additional days of professional development for teachers prior to the first day of instruction in August.

The approved calendar comes after months of pushing from parents, teachers and board members for its release and was met with frustration over the added optional days. While some parents called into Tuesday’s board meeting to support the decision, others questioned what the additional days would look like and questioned the decision to remove a week from the summer rather than the three-week winter break.

At the board meeting, chief academic officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery told attendees that the extra optional acceleration days were meant to serve as an additional resource for students and added at strategic points throughout the school year so that it would be clear where students stood and how to best help them. The optional four days will take place on Wednesdays in October, December, March and April. Each school site will also provide childcare during normal hours on those days.

“Student acceleration days are designed to be stepping stones rather than safety nets to orchestrate success, to build success and to create success,” Yoshimoto-Towery said. “We know the function that we need to have, which is high quality teaching and learning and student outcomes. But sometimes we don’t have the structures in place. This calendar represents putting those structures in place.”

Teachers and relevant staff who choose to work the acceleration days or attend the extra professional development will receive additional compensation.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that adding the optional days was the best way to spend the additional funding LAUSD received this year and assure that it would benefit students academically. The additional days will cost the district $122 million.

Though many have pushed for more intervention positions, Carvalho said the funding cannot be committed to hiring additional staff because it will sunset in two years. LAUSD has also struggled to permanently fill hundreds of vacant classroom positions across the district as a result of the nationwide teacher shortage.

“This is a golden opportunity,” he said at the board meeting. “This is an investment — that is, a best practice considering the short amount of time we have to use these monies.”

It’s not yet clear what exactly the acceleration days will look like; however, Carvalho said he was open to hearing ideas from community members across the district, including parents and students. He added that he expected both the acceleration days and the professional development days to also be an opportunity for staff outside the classroom to participate.

Board member Jackie Goldberg said she had initially been against the proposed calendar because of uncertainty over the impact, but after learning more about the plan, was open to the experiment. She asked that student input be taken into consideration when designing content and structure.

“When students feel like they have a hand in producing these for accelerated days, I think you’ll see greater attendance,” Goldberg said. “I also think that they will be able also to say, ‘I had a hand in that; it made a difference to me that I was asked.’”

Board president Kelly Gonez acknowledged frustration from parents but said that the district also had to listen to those who hadn’t reached out.

“We have heard from many parents who have raised concerns and questions, impacts to vacations and camp schedules and various other issues, but we certainly haven’t heard from the parents who are working two or three jobs whose kids are most likely to be positively impacted by these optional acceleration opportunities,” she said. “So in reviewing the calendar, I like to start by asking what our students need.”

Carvalho said he would take into account some of the feedback he’s received from parents and board members, including requests to scale back winter break from three to two weeks, though it wouldn’t be for the approaching school year. He also said the district would plan to finalize calendars for the next few years ahead of the typical timeline after board member Nick Melvoin suggested finalizing the following two calendars by September.

Kate Sequeira

Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 7:07 pm

Link copied.State superintendent calls on districts, charter schools to commit to literacy goal

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a “call to action” Tuesday, asking all California school districts and charters to commit to his goal of having all third grade students reading by 2026.

Thurmond announced the initiative in September, citing research showing that students who aren’t reading at grade level by third grade will struggle to catch up through their education career and can be at greater risk of dropping out of school and ending up in the criminal justice system. After assembling a task force that made funding recommendations to lawmakers, Thurmond is now calling on districts and charters to do their part to reach the 2026 goal.

Thurmond invites all districts and charters to attend a virtual meeting on May 20 titled “Calling All Schools: The Plan to Ensure all Students Learn to Read by Third Grade,” where they can share and receive support to help implement their literacy efforts, according to a news release from the California Department of Education.

Districts and charters can register in advance for the May 20 virtual meeting, which will be held from 11 a.m. to noon.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 5:27 pm

Link copied.LAUSD reports it successfully filled identified vacancies

Los Angeles Unified has filled 98% of the vacant teaching positions it identified earlier this month. LAUSD has redeployed staff to 416 classrooms who will remain in the classroom through the end of the school year.

The largest number of vacancies were found across the highest-need middle and high schools. Those schools, along with highest-need elementary schools and special education programs, were prioritized, chief of human resources Ileana Davalos told attendees at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“I’m very overjoyed,” board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin said at the meeting. “You know, staffing has been a concern of mine since last year’s budget approval in June, and so super grateful for the team to make some quick strategic moves to fill our classroom vacancies this year.”

Local districts took the lead on redeployment. Staff who could be reassigned within the same school were deployed first, followed by those reassigned within the same local district and then those redeployed from the central office, according to Davalos. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that once positions are backfilled, staff members will be released back to their positions — hopefully by the start of the upcoming school year.

“I know it’s inconvenient for some and I appreciate, much like the gratitude the board has expressed for the many individuals — the 400 plus individuals — who were redeployed to schools,” Carvalho said at the meeting.

LAUSD is now looking to hire for those temporarily filled positions for next year. The goal is to start the school year without vacancies, said Bryan Johnson, the director of certificated workforce management. The district is most in need of secondary math and science teachers, special education teachers and bilingual teachers, he said.

The human resources department will be hosting hiring fairs throughout the next two weeks and has a growing number of early offers and individuals on the eligibility list, Davalos said. So far this year, the district has hired 2,400 teachers, up from last year. The department is increasing its interviewing capacity and working with local universities to support the backfill of vacancies, Johnson added.

“The candidate of today is not the same candidate that I was when I came to this system, so we really have to adjust — candidates have a lot of choices,” Davalos said. “We have to dig a little bit deeper as to why that is happening and what can we do to have staff come here.”

Kate Sequeira