Edvoice - Issues

Issue of collective bargaining threatens evaluation reform

July 22 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Democratic leaders’ efforts to rewrite the state’s teacher evaluation law have stalled over the same disagreement that upended the last big push in the Legislature three years ago: stark differences in who gets to decide what goes into an evaluation.

The Science Of Grading Teachers Gets High Marks

July 20 | FiveThirtyEightEconomics

By Andrew Flowers

Is evaluating teachers an exact science? Many people — including many teachers and their unions — believe current methods are often too subjective and open to abuse and misinterpretation. But new tools for measuring teacher effectiveness have become more sophisticated in recent years, and several large-scale studies in New York, Los Angeles and North Carolina have given those tools more credibility. A new study released on Monday furthers their legitimacy; and as the science of grading teachers advances, it could push for further adoption of these tools.

Can two federal bills finally fulfill goals of No Child Left Behind?

July 19 | The LA Times

By Howard Blume

No Child Left Behind law had an ambitious goal to reform America's public schools 16 years ago: Every student, everywhere, would be academically successful by 2014.

That hasn't happened, and the vast majority of schools that receive federal funds are now labeled as failures under the law.

That could change. Both houses of Congress have approved sweeping education bills, but the effort could fall short of becoming law because of political and policy hurdles.

Judge sides with parents' efforts to make Anaheim's Palm Lane a charter

July 17 | The Orange County Register

By Rebecca Kheel

A parent group’s petition to take over their elementary school and turn it into a charter school was done properly and can move forward, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled.

“When I received the news, I’m crying for a little time,” said Cecilia Ochoa, a parent of two Palm Lane Elementary School students and one of the lead petitioners in what is believed to the first use of the so-called Parent Trigger Law in Orange County. “I’m so very happy, and all my community is happy too.”

Court Rules In Favor of Palm Lane Parents; Calls ACSD Behavior "Unfair, Unreasonable, Arbitrary and Capricious"

July 16 | Anaheim Blog

By Matthew Cunningham

In a victory for parents over an obstructionist school district, OC Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks ruled in favor of the parents group that has been battling a hostile Anaheim City School District to press their right to convert Palm Lane Elementary School into an independent charter school. 

Group sues 13 school districts for not using test scores in teacher evaluations

July 16 | LA Times

By Howard Blume

An education advocacy group sued 13 California school districts Thursday, claiming that they have ignored a state law requiring teachers’ performance evaluations to include student standardized test scores.

The lawsuit targets the largest school systems in the state that have barred such use of test results through collective-bargaining agreements with teachers unions. These contract provisions are illegal under state law, according to the complaint, which was filed in Contra Costa County.

Students Matter sues districts over teacher evaluations

July 16 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Students Matter, which is challenging tenure and other teacher protection laws in Vergara v. California, filed a second school lawsuit Thursday. It is suing 13 school districts that it claims are violating the state law requiring student scores on state standardized tests be a component of a teacher’s evaluation.

The lawsuit, filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court, says that the districts illegally agreed in contracts negotiated with teachers to exclude test scores. Students Matters is asking the court to order the districts to follow the Stull Act, as the 1971 law is known.

Audit finds mismanagement, ethical breaches in L.A. Unified food services

July 15 | LA Times

By Teresa Watanabe

The Los Angeles school district’s massive food services program is riddled with mismanagement, inappropriate spending and ethical breaches, according to an internal audit released Wednesday.

The 33-page audit by the district’s Office of the Inspector General reviewed L.A. Unified’s revamped food procurement system, which was introduced five years ago to supply the nation's second-largest school food operation. Eight major vendors were awarded $750 million in food contracts spread over five years.

Under the new system, auditors found increased food prices, bloated inventories, incompatible computer systems to order food, a “haphazard” menu development process and insufficient controls over spending. The audit also found increased meal participation and greater innovation and flexibility.

No-bid practice for funding school projects found illegal

July 16 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Jill Tucker

Billions of dollars in California school construction projects are in legal limbo after a state appellate court ruling determined the no-bid contract used to hire a construction firm in a Central Valley school district — a kind of contract found in districts across the state — was illegal.

LCAP not API to serve as school performance monitor

July 9 | Cabinet Report

By Kimberley Beltran

 In a subtle but significant policy shift, state education officials acknowledged publicly Wednesday that the focal point for measuring school performance going forward will be the Local Control Accountability Plan and not the Annual Performance Index.

[S]taff from the California Department of Education noted Wednesday that the Brown administration’s long-standing interest in making the API a subset of the broader and more robust measures being contemplated for the LCAP seem to have formally taken hold.