Edvoice - Issues

Two bills would preserve choice in enrollment

June 15 | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By The Editorial Board

The state Senate resoundingly passed a couple of bills to preserve school choice authored by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Brea. Now the Assembly should do the same.

One of Huff’s bills, SB 1432, would extend the 22-year-old California School District of Choice program, which has proven successful but is scheduled to sunset next year.

The other, SB 1156, would preserve the 6-year-old Open Enrollment Act by updating the main criterion for using it.

The District of Choice program allows parents to transfer their children to participating school districts without a transfer agreement.

How good is my kid's school? California tries to answer every parent's question

May 27 | L.A. Times

By Joy Resmovits

California is getting closer to defining what a good school should look like. But how will parents know if their school is one of them?

On Thursday, the federal government released draft regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s provisions on school accountability. Under the guidelines, states have to tell parents how their schools are doing on a range of factors — and also give the school an overall rating. 

The huge price tag for missing warnings of L.A. teachers abusing students: $300 million and counting

May 25 | L.A. Times

In a recent court hearing, one young man after another claimed that former Franklin High football coach Jaime Jimenez befriended them during summer practice before 9th grade, then sexually abused them.

But it’s not the allegations against Jimenez that are at the center of a lawsuit filed this month against the Los Angeles Unified School District. It’s about whether school officials once again missed — or ignored — warning signs about Jimenez that prolonged the alleged abuse.

State board may make it easier to follow the money

June 9 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

There’s no dispute: Districts are required to spend additional money they receive for low-income students, English learners and foster children under the Local Control Funding Formula on programs and services for those kids.

But there’s a big caveat that has largely escaped public notice: The obligation disappears at the end of a fiscal year. At that point, unspent dollars under the formula flow into one pool of unrestricted money that districts can use however they want.

That “loophole” would appear to contradict the intent, if not the spirit, of the law: spend targeted dollars on targeted kids to narrow the achievement gap. But under the language of the LCFF statute and the view of the state Department of Finance, using unspent targeted money for other purposes doesn’t violate the law and is acceptable in the new world of local control, in which districts have flexibility over funding, as long as they’re clear and open about what they are doing.

LA Unified shortchanging funding for high-needs students, state says

June 6 | 89.3 KPCC

State officials have ordered the Los Angeles Unified School District to spend hundreds of millions of more dollars on its highest-needs students, a move that is causing district officials to scramble in the last few weeks of their budget-making process.

The California Department of Education sided with advocates who calculated L.A. Unified shortchanged these vulnerable groups by $288 million this school year by, essentially, double-counting a large chunk of the funding it spent on special education services.

Fight brewing over new schools accountability system

May 3 | 89.3 KPCC

By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

A tug of war over what and how many measures a new accountability system should use to judge schools is brewing between legislators and state policy officials.

California’s policymaking body for public schools, the State Board of Education is crafting a system that would include test scores, graduation rates and English learner proficiency.

But San Diego-area Assemblywoman Shirley Weber believes the board is moving too slowly and has authored a bill to compel the board to include measures like school climate, absenteeism, and college readiness.

Reminding Jerry Brown of Jerry Brown

May 3 | CALmatters

By Judy Lin

More than 50 civil rights and education reform groups are using Jerry Brown to remind Jerry Brown of his pledge to help black and Latino students following an interview with CALmatters in which he suggested that disparities will persist despite government intervention.

In a letter dated May 3, dozens of advocacy groups asked Brown to recommit to closing the academic achievement gap for high-need students as he considers an opening on the State Board of Education and a new plan for measuring school performance later this year.

America's high school seniors' reading and math scores have hit a wall

April 27 | LA Times

By Joy Resmovits

America’s high school seniors' reading and math test scores are barely holding steady or slumping, according to national standardized test results released late Tuesday.

Between 2013 and 2015, on average, students dropped slightly in math and held steady in reading.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP, is a test administered by the federal government. It is considered the gold standard in measuring what students really know, because the results don't have consequences that could encourage teachers or test takers to game the process

School budget laws complicated tracking of Common Core spending

April 27 | EdSource

By Theresa Harrington

The Fresno and Visalia school districts are spending $10 million each on new schools.

San Jose Unified put about $12 million toward staff bonuses, while Santa Ana Unified spent $9 million on retiree benefits.

The money is coming from about $3.6 billion in tax revenues California’s about 1,000 school districts received over the past two years. The Legislature specified that it “intended” for districts to “prioritize” spending of the one-time funds on implementing academic standards, including Common Core standards in math and English.

But lawmakers also told districts that they first had to use the funds as reimbursement for outstanding claims for programs and services mandated by the state. Because districts had already covered the past mandated expenses, they were free to use the one-time reimbursements “for any purpose.”

Dan Walters: Big feud over school accountability rages in Capitol

April 25 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Conflict over the direction of California’s public schools, pitting school reformers and civil rights groups against the education establishment, plays out in many venues.

One burning issue is whether schools will be held strictly accountable for outcomes under the new Local Control Funding Formula, which is aimed at closing the “achievement gap” between poor and “English-learner” students and more advantaged classmates.

One of the arenas is the Assembly’s Committee on Education, whose chairman, former teacher Patrick O’Donnell, unabashedly backs the establishment, particularly the California Teachers Association.

He showed his allegiance last Thursday when fellow Democrat and committee member Shirley Weber offered a bill that would create the kind of specific accountability system that the reformers and civil rights groups seek.