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California Education News Roundup - Mural Art by David Fichter


A daily compilation of education news coverage of statewide interest provided by
UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access.

Top Stories and Commentary for Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By Susan Ferriss/Sacramento Bee

A fresh billboard heading into Sacramento off Interstate 5 showcases the California Teachers Association's dissatisfaction with a chief ally in the state Capitol: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. "Dear Senator Steinberg," reads the pink billboard, which appeared over the weekend. "Stop the blame. Stop the cuts." The state's largest teachers union is also launching a direct-mail campaign to exert pressure on Steinberg as he gears up for negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other legislators over how to address the state's $19.1 billion budget deficit. "Please stop the devastating cuts that have increased class sizes, shut down libraries and eliminated art, music and technical training classes," the mailing to voters in Steinberg's Sacramento district says. (more...)

By Greg Toppo/USA TODAY

If educators want to shrink the number of students who drop out of high school each year, they must greatly increase the number who can read proficiently by the time they're in fourth grade, a key non-profit children's advocacy group says in a new report. The findings, out today from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, echoes research on reading proficiency going back decades, but it's the first to draw a direct line between reading and the nation's long-term economic well-being. "The bottom line is that if we don't get dramatically more children on track as proficient readers, the United States will lose a growing and essential proportion of its human capital to poverty," the authors say. (more...)

Blog by John Fensterwald/Educated Guess

A 19-page memorandum of understanding for signing up for Round 2 of Race to the Top went out Monday. District, county offices of education and charter schools will have only until Wednesday to indicate whether they’re in or out. This time, there will be no coaxing or convincing, with a wink or a nod, that districts can always back out later if they don’t like the terms. This time, the state’s not going all out to build a big tent of participants at the sacrifice of strong commitments. This time, superintendents, local union presidents and presidents of the boards of trustees should sign the dotted line only if they’re prepared to agree to a specific and lengthy set of reforms. (more...)

Blog by Mc Nelly Torres/EdMoney.org

The White House announced recently that its $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded 682,779 jobs during the first quarter of 2010, including teachers, cops and road construction workers. The figure reflects the number of people whose jobs were directly paid for with stimulus funds, a number reached after assessing more than 179,000 reports filed by state, local and corporate recipients. But a recent report conducted by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington in Seattle, suggests that education jobs remain in an unprecedented decline. The analysis, "Schools in Crisis: Making Ends Meet," by Marguerite Roza, Chris Lozier and Cristina Sepe, found that while federal stimulus dollars have prevented states from making massive cuts to the education workforce, it had not helped in creating jobs. (more...)

By Robert Cruickshank/California Progress Report

Facing a growing revolt over his previous budget cuts, including the devastating cuts to public schools, Arnold Schwarzenegger's May Revise 2010 takes a very different approach to insane and reckless spending cuts than was proposed back in 2009. Understanding this difference is key to defeating him. In 2009, Arnold's cuts hit everyone, and hit everyone hard. Well, everyone except the rich, who Arnold believes should be immune from being asked to contribute to solving the budget crisis. The middle-class saw services cut, particularly schools. State parks were slated for closure, and local government funds were stolen. (more...)

By Ana Tintocalis/KPBS

Three teenage boys hang out after a long day at school. They're getting ready for dinner at a friend's house. The conversation revolves around girls and the upcoming weekend. The three friends go to the same high school in San Diego. They have something else in common – their family members are undocumented immigrants. “It's my mom, my dad, and myself,” said Jonathon, an 18-year-old who asked his family name not be revealed for fear of getting caught. His black hair compliments his light green eyes. Jonathon's parents crossed the border from Mexico when he was just a small boy. He's lived in San Diego most of his life. Now that Jonathon's a teenager, his parents warn him not to tell his friends or teachers about his status. His family and relatives have become pseudo-informants for one another, helping each other avoid certain areas and places where authorities might be. (more...)

President Obama spoke about the “Race to the Top“ program at an elementary school in Falls Church, Va. With him is Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
By Steven Brill/New York Times

Michael Mulgrew is an affable former Brooklyn vocational-high-school teacher who took over last year as head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers when his predecessor, Randi Weingarten, moved to Washington to run the national American Federation of Teachers. Over breakfast in March, we talked about a movement spreading across the country to hold public-school teachers accountable by compensating, promoting or even removing them according to the results they produce in class, as measured in part by student test scores. Mulgrew’s 165-page union contract takes the opposite approach. It not only specifies everything that teachers will do and will not do during a six-hour-57 ½-minute workday but also requires that teachers be paid based on how long they have been on the job. (more...)

Also Noted for Tuesday, May 18, 2010:

By Connie Llanos/Los Angeles Daily News

A Los Angeles Unified School district official hopes to block further layoffs at local schools based only on seniority and is expected to introduce plans today that would launch negotiations with labor organization to end the state-mandated and union contract required practice. The move follows an injunction issued last week that blocked further layoffs at three South Los Angeles middle schools during the 2010-11 school year, this after civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit in February against the district and the state of California over job cuts at these campuses. The groups said that the high numbers of less experienced teachers working at these inner-city schools would result in high turn-over that would deprive students at the campuses to their right to an equal education. (more...)

By Brian Charles/Pasadena Star News

With state education funding cuts claiming teaching jobs across California, San Marino Unified School District is turning to $3 million in private donations to help save its teachers. "We call ourselves a semi-private school district," said Gary Woods, San Marino school superintendent. San Marino Unified has become synonymous with high test scores and high parcel taxes. Property owners pay $1,090 in parcel taxes to the schools. With a private donation drive raising $3 million to subsidize schools, nearly 40 percent of the district money now comes from sources other than the state of California, Woods said. "In San Marino, we believe it costs $8,900 to educate a student," he said. "We're expecting to receive $4,600. (more...)

By Melissa Pamer/Los Angeles Daily Breeze

In an effort to raise revenue and reverse a trend of declining enrollment, the Palos Verdes Peninsula school district has begun aggressively marketing a policy allowing parents who work on The Hill to send their children to the area's high-achieving campuses. Those who are employed at least 15 hours per week within the district's boundaries can apply for a transfer permit for their child. District officials have in recent weeks reached out to the four local city councils, the chamber of commerce, private preschools, golf courses, and Terranea Resort, which opened nearly a year ago and is expected to provide the bulk of the new students, said assistant superintendent Susan Liberati. (more...)

By Katie Zezima/New York Times

All the staff members of Central Falls High School, who were fired in February as part of a turnaround plan for the chronically underperforming school, will be able to keep their jobs under an agreement ratified Monday. The accord, which the Central Falls Teachers Union overwhelmingly approved Monday afternoon, resolved months of tension and negotiation between the union and the schools superintendent, Frances Gallo. Among other things, it calls for a longer school day, more in-depth teacher evaluations and mandatory after-school tutoring for each student. “The agreement provides for supports for students and tools for teachers that teachers will need to help our students succeed,” said Jane Sessums, the president of the union, at a news conference with Dr. Gallo and the schools commissioner, Deborah Gist. (more...)

The California Education News Roundup is produced by the Just Schools California project at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA). For the latest research, background and an array of resources on educational justice issues, visit www.idea.gseis.ucla.edu. If you wish to contact us, please e-mail vizcarra@gseis.ucla.edu

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