Edvoice - Issues

Lawsuit: LAUSD misappropriated funds for high-needs students

July 1 | The Sacramento Bee

By Christine Armario

Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District Wednesday alleging that millions of dollars intended to help low income, foster care and English-learner students were diverted to special education services.

California needs stronger teacher evaluations

June 30 | The Sacramento Bee

BY PHYLIS HOFFMAN, PAMELA THOMPSON AND JENNIFER WALKER

We are teachers and parents who saw a reason to hope for our schools. In late April, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat, presented a modest teacher evaluation bill, Assembly Bill 1495, in the Assembly Education Committee.

We also knew she was going to have a fight on her hands. Supporters of the status quo had predictably deployed their considerable forces in opposition, while the committee planned to euthanize Weber’s policy by transforming it into a study bill.

We were baffled to watch the torpedoing of a bill that, at its core, was both pro-student and pro-teacher.

SoCal schools may see more interns, substitutes in classrooms as teacher shortage grows

June 29 | Southern California Public Radio

By Mary Plummer

School is out for the summer, but for some in education, the work is just beginning on a problem that is growing more acute: the teacher shortage.

School districts have long anticipated they would be scrambling to fill teacher jobs once boomer-age teachers began retiring. But combine that with declining enrollment in teacher credentialing programs and now increased state funding for new hires, and you've got "the perfect storm," said Donna Glassman-Sommer, a Tulare County Office of Education administrator who handles teacher recruitment.

Panel recommends continuing districts' waiver from NCLB

June 25 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

An oversight committee is recommending that the U.S. Department of Education again extend a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law to six California school districts, collectively known as CORE.

Some of the districts had not met the deadline for improvements, particularly for adopting key parts of a new teacher evaluation system, but the committee concluded that all had shown enough overall progress to merit an extension.

Editorial: Keeping better tabs on California's education funding

June 18 | The LA Times

By The Times Editorial Board

One of Gov. Jerry Brown's greatest and most dramatic accomplishments has been his reform of the way California allocates money to public schools. He used the recession to hit the reset button, replacing an arcane and blatantly unfair formula with a streamlined and equitable distribution: a certain amount of funding per student, and significantly extra for those who are poor, in foster care or not fluent in English — in other words, students who need extra help.

But this fairer approach will work only if school districts are committed to spending the money for the benefit of the disadvantaged students for whom it was intended, and early signs are that at least some school districts are defining that benefit broadly — perhaps too broadly.

Weber: Torlakson ignores intent of law

June 16 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

By Union-Tribune Editorial Board

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, has expressed concerns on behalf of the California Legislative Black Caucus about implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, a 2013 law that was billed as providing billions of dollars in funding specifically to help English-language learners and other struggling students.

On June 10, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson overruled a subordinate and wrote a letter declaring that the additional funds can be used for broad teacher raises if districts make the case that such raises help achieve LCFF goals. We asked Weber for her reaction.

Torlakson reinterprets department's stance on teacher raises

June 15 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has softened clear-cut guidance his department issued in a memo regarding the use of money intended for underserved students to fund across-the-board pay raises for teachers.

Torlakson changed the tone and backed off some of the restrictions of the earlier memo in a June 10 letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators. It came two weeks after EdSource Today published an April letter from Jeff Breshears, an administrator in the California Department of Education, to Jim Yovino, superintendent of the Fresno County Office of Education. Breshears’ letter was a response to Yovino’s inquiry.

Opinion: Torlakson green-lights teacher pay raises for union allies

June 14 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

From its inception, the most worrisome aspect of Gov. Jerry Brown’s overhaul of public school finances was his insistence on “subsidiarity.”

As he defined it, it meant that the state would pump more money into school districts with high numbers of poor and/or English-learner students, remove restrictions on existing pots of state aid and trust local officials to spend it wisely.

Education reform groups worried aloud that without strong direction from Sacramento, unions, particularly the California Teachers Association, would exert their influence on local school boards to claim much of the new money for salary increases.

L.A.Unified funding for high need students off target, study says

June 14 | LA Times

By Teresa Watanabe

In the first full year of a significant state funding boost, Los Angeles Unified administrators failed to consistently funnel the dollars to the high-need students they were meant for, a new study found.

California lawmakers seek to expand child care, unionize workers

May 31 | Sacramento Bee

By Jim Miller

Last year, it was preschool and transitional kindergarten. This spring, majority Democrats in the California Legislature have made a priority of another program for young people: state-subsidized child care.

Thousands of child care slots would be added and reimbursement rates would increase under legislative proposals headed to a joint budget-writing committee expected to start work today, as negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown begin in earnest.

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