Edvoice - Issues

California schools fail to teach children to read or write, suit says

December 5 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Bob Egelko

California has broken its promise to millions of schoolchildren with an education system that is failing to teach students to read or write, advocates charged Tuesday in a lawsuit seeking a statewide right of “access to literacy.”

The suit was filed on behalf of current and former elementary school students and their families in two districts in Los Angeles and Stockton, and a charter school in Los Angeles County. The lead plaintiff is a 7-year-old second-grader who can’t spell words like “need” and “help,” lawyers said.

They said students in one charter school class couldn’t read their social studies lesson and had to listen to an audio version. Some Stockton students “start crying when asked to read out loud in class,” the lawsuit said. And one student said his brother didn’t learn to read until he was held in juvenile hall at age 16.

San Francisco Schools: NAACP Urges ‘State of Emergency’ Over City’s Stark Racial Achievement Gap

November 27 | The 74 Million

By: Laura Fay

The San Francisco NAACP is urging the city school board to declare a state of emergency to spotlight the city’s stark racial gap in student achievement.

Despite several interventions designed to increase achievement among African-American students, the gap has lingered for more than 25 years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Although the city is one of the highest-scoring urban districts in the state overall, 74 percent of black students did not meet state standards. in at least one subject area in the 2015–16 school year. African-American students represented 7 percent of the district’s students in 2015–16.

Report: Only 30% of California’s ninth-graders will graduate from college

November 27 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi 

Although more than 90 percent of the nation’s ninth graders expect to graduate from college, a report released Monday estimates that only 30 percent of California’s high school freshmen will actually earn a bachelor’s degree.

Amid that dismaying projection, researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California also unearthed a surprising finding. It’s not just lack of academic progress that’s keeping students from earning a degree. It’s also students’ failure to take the right preparatory courses and schools tracking them into remedial classes. California’s comparatively lax high-school graduation requirements may also be a contributing factor.

Analysis: Why Orange Is the New Red in California — and School Accountability Just Got a Whole Lot Harder to Read

November 13 | The 74 Million

By: Conor Williams

Last week, the land of good news got a dose of the other blend. California’s Department of Education announced a significant increase in the number of state schools falling into the bottom tier of the state’s accountability system. From 2016 to 2017, the number of bottom-tier schools for math and ELA performance approximately doubled (page 8 here). Schools appear to be especially struggling at showing academic improvements over time.

Well, that’s not quite how the state sees it. On Wednesday, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to tweak the numbers so more schools will show up in the orange category instead of red. They called the change a technical matter.


California Today: The Latino Education Crisis

November 8 | The New York Times

Latinos make up the majority of students in California. And yet, a new report from The Education Trust-West shows a stark and persistent achievement gap between Latino and white students. In every county in the state the majority of Latino students are not proficient in math or English language arts.

The report also found that California’s Latino students attend some of the country’s most segregated schools, lack access to early childhood education, are often pushed away from college-prep coursework in high school and are more likely to be required to take remedial classes in colleges and universities.

School District Spars with School Reform Groups over Achievement Gap Data

November 6 | The Bay City Beacon

The San Francisco Unified School District continues to struggle with disparities in academic success between demographic groups, often to a greater degree than in similar communities across the state. 

On October 26, members of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, along with Innovate Public Schools, a nonprofit organized to promote reforms in public education to disadvantaged groups, held a press conference on the front steps of San Francisco City Hall promoting the latter group's new report on SFUSD's persistent and worsening achievement gap. The report highlights continuing challenges to academic success, especially among Black and Latinx students, contrasting the problem with the District's overall high performance and the City's affluence.

Latino students lag far behind whites in every county in California, new study shows

November 6 | Los Angeles School Report

There is not a single county in California where the majority of Latino students are proficient in math or English language arts, according to a report released Monday. 

The report, by The Education Trust-West, looked at this year’s state test scores and compared the difference between Latino students and white students who met state standards.

Why is San Francisco the state’s worst county for black student achievement?

October 26 | CALmatters

By Jessica Calefati

Parents from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood gathered around school cafeteria tables and listened as administrators delivered a hopeful message: Their children, who all attend Charles R. Drew Preparatory Academy, one of the city’s few schools serving mostly black students, were already on track to do better on next year’s state tests.

But the staff didn’t tell the parents about this year’s results, even though the recent meeting had been billed as a forum to discuss the scores, which the state published online several weeks ago. Those results present a much different picture. Nine out of 10 black students at the school had failed reading and math exams.

Fallbrook schools pays $1.2 million to former employee in whistleblower case

October 16 | The San Diego Tribune

By Deborah Sullivan Brennan

A former information technology director for Fallbrook schools received a court award of almost $1.2 million this month, concluding a wrongful termination case filed five years ago.

The employee, Elaine Allyn, sued the district after she was fired in May 2012, claiming officials had retaliated against her for initially refusing to delete e-mails archived on a school server.

Allyn, a 19-year veteran IT director with Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, said officials ordered her to delete the e-mails, which she believed contained information about possible misappropriation of funds, said Susan Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, the Encinitas legal firm which represented her in the case.

Attorney: Alum Rock manager sought secret deal on construction bids

October 15 | The Mercury News

By Sharon 

Alum Rock schools’ facilities director made a side deal with a construction company for a middle school renovation that would have cost taxpayers an extra $2.5 million and netted extra revenue for the firm and for the district’s controversial bond construction manager, Del Terra Real Estate, the school district’s attorney alleged in a confidential report obtained by this newspaper.

The alleged deal, not authorized by top administrators or the school board, fell apart in May. The report by attorney Rogelio Ruiz recounts conversations that detail an unorthodox arrangement for remodeling bathrooms at Mathson Middle School and space at the former Mexican-American Community Services Agency (MACSA)  building, which the Alum Rock district owns and intends to use as a multipurpose room for the adjacent Mathson.