Edvoice - Issues

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.

Commentary | School funding change: Promise of law still not fulfilled

October 6 | San Diego Union Tribune

By Norma Chavez-Peterson & Sylvia Torres-Guillen

Four years ago, the Local Control Funding Formula became law, fundamentally changing the way California funds school districts. It was supposed to usher in a new era giving more power and autonomy to districts, streamlining funding and — most importantly — leveling the playing field for students whom we often leave behind.

Specifically, the law provides school districts with more money to support low-income students, foster youth and English learners. While the American Civil Liberties Union believes the intended changes are critical, much of the law’s promise is still to be fulfilled.

Poll: Californians lean toward school choice, away from testing

October 4 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

When it comes to education, Californians see the wealthy awash in school choice, the poor with few options and, surprisingly, the middle class with some — but not a lot — of choices in selecting a school, a poll released Thursday shows.

So it’s no wonder that 55 percent of voters want government to offer vouchers or tax breaks to enable children from low-income families to attend private school; 46 percent would offer that government aid to parents of all income levels.

2017 California school test scores: Why are they flatlining?

September 27 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Naguchi

Breaking with its steadily upward trend, California’s annual test scores have stagnated, with fewer than half of students proficient in math and English, and a wide ethnic achievement gap persisting.

State scores released Wednesday show just 49 percent of students proficient in English and 37 percent proficient in math. The numbers are half a percentage-point different from 2016 — down in English and up in math. Tests were administered last spring to students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade.

California must find and fix its worst public schools. Here’s one way to start

September 28 | Los Angeles Times

By Joy Resmovits, Priya Krishnakumar and Ben Walsh

California just released its third round of scores on new, tougher standardized tests, and now the state is on the hook.

A federal law requires states to identify the bottom 5% of their schools next school year and take steps to fix them. California education officials have yet to develop a detailed plan of how to do that.

Rather than wait on the state, The Times assembled its own list. We identified California's lowest-scoring schools two years ago, when the new testing regime started, and tracked their results over time.

California called out as ‘a laggard in student achievement’ as test score improvement stalls

September 27 | LA School Report

By Sarah Favot

California’s public school students performed about the same this year as they did last year on standardized tests, with LA Unified students showing slightly more improvement. But you’d need a magnifying glass to see the differences.

California’s improvement in math was so minuscule that for the first time the results were released in decimal points. Its English language arts scores declined.

The state’s top education official is even foregoing the celebratory press conference.

Less than half of California students met the standards in either subject.

Editorial: The pendulum swings too far on school accountability

September 5 | Los Angeles Times

By The Times Editorial Board

Is California’s commitment to school accountability dead? Probably not, but it’s certainly withering.

The days of California’s Academic Performance Index and the federal No Child Left Behind Act are over, and they won’t be missed. The API’s obsessive insistence on measuring schools solely on the basis of a couple of annual tests led to an era in which arts, science and physical fitness were given short shrift. No Child Left Behind layered a set of rigid, punitive rules on top, and the Obama administration’s attempts to dictate school policy through its Race to the Top initiative was overly intrusive.

California’s response to federal school accountability law falls short

September 3 | CALmatters

By Dan Walters 

One of the less heralded – albeit, one of the more important – of the many clashes between Sacramento and Washington these days has to do with accountability for educating the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students.

Gov. Jerry Brown, state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson and the state Board of Education have indicated by word and deed that they want soft oversight of how local schools are performing. That’s particularly true regarding how well schools are using billions of dollars in extra state aid to close the “achievement gap” separating poor, Latino and black students from their more affluent white and Asian classmates.

Editorial: Report cards for California schools needed

September 1 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Chronicle Editorial Board

The California Legislature is strongly resisting federal action on almost all fronts — climate, civil rights, environment, immigration, law enforcement — but not education. There is demonstrated support for an annual report card on how each school spends local, state and federal funding and what progress it has made on measures of student academic achievement. The Brown administration however is resisting such concise reporting. It should not.

By Sept. 18, California must submit to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos its plan for spending $2.6 billion in federal education funding. While that sum represents just 3 percent of total funding for California’s K-12 schools, the required state-developed accountability plan would serve as a blueprint for a broader plan for all education spending in California.