Edvoice - Issues

Dan Walters: Torlakson-Tuck contest is just one front in war over California public

October 13 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Even at a superficial level, the contest between two Democrats for the supposedly nonpartisan office of state superintendent of schools is interesting.

Tom Torlakson, a onetime teacher and state legislator, is being challenged by a generation-younger Marshall Tuck, a former charter school chain executive.

However, their running debate over the direction of California’s 6 million-student public school system is merely one front – albeit an important one – in a years-long war over education policy, almost entirely within the Democratic Party.

Judge tells state to fix problems at LA school

October 8 | SF Gate

By Lisa Leff

California education officials must get involved in fixing a slew of scheduling and class-assignment problems that have unconstitutionally deprived students at a Los Angeles high school of weeks of valuable learning time this fall, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Acting on a request from lawyers for three students at Thomas Jefferson Senior High School, Alameda County Superior CourtJudge George Hernandez Jr. issued an emergency order directing the state's schools superintendent, appointed school board and Department of Education to work with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasey in developing a plan to immediately remedy the problems.

Judge orders state to fix Jefferson High scheduling issues

October 8 | LA Times

By Howard Blume, Ruben Vines

For weeks, Armani Richards sat in the Jefferson High School auditorium waiting to be assigned classes for his senior year...But a malfunctioning computer records system meant that Richards and hundreds of other students weren't getting the classes they needed. Some were sent to overbooked classrooms or were given the same course multiple times a day. Others were assigned to "service" periods where they did nothing at all. Still others were sent home.


A Teacher's View on Tenure Reform

October 6 | The Huffington Post

By Bootsie Battle-Holt

As a teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District, I've followed the discussion around teacher tenure, dismissal, and layoffs—a conversation that gained national attention with the Vergara v. California decision in June—carefully. For most teachers I know, the debate is personal—not just because it's about our jobs, but because as teachers who are always striving to do our best work for our students, we want and need to be surrounded by colleagues who help each other by doing excellent work, too.


SPI Race Information

September 30 | EducateOurState

Interested in learning more about the two candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction? EducateOurState co-hosted an event with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and John Fensterwald of EdSource moderated the forum. You can see a recording of the event here.

L.A. Unified alerted to possible sexual misconduct by Berndt in 1983

September 26 | LA Times

By Victoria Kim, Howard Blume

In 1983, a South Los Angeles elementary school principal received a call about one of his teachers, a 32-year-old just a few years on the job. On a student field trip to a museum, Mark Berndt had dropped his pants, a parent complained.

The principal called the parent back and jotted notes about the incident in a memo. Berndt remained at the school.

Teachers and SUSD in stalemate over salaries, evaluations

September 20 | Recordnet

By Elizabeth Roberts

The Stockton Unified School District, which in July rejected a teachers’ union demand for a 19.5 percent increase over two years, remains at an impasse with the Stockton Teachers Association following a recent meeting with a state mediator.

Both sides say they are eager to settle but remain far apart on several key issues, including contract language about teacher evaluations and transfers, language Steiner called “ridiculous and divisive” in remarks before the Board of Trustees on Sept. 9.

Debate rages over how to evaluate teachers

September 20 | Recordnet

By Elizabeth Roberts

Should student test scores affect teacher evaluations?

That issue continues to be a stumbling block between Stockton Teachers Association and Stockton Unified negotiators as they pursue a new contract. And it is playing out on a national scale as well, part of larger accountability movement framing reform as a civil rights issue unfairly affecting disadvantaged and minority students. 

California's little-known 40-year-old Stull Act, in fact, requires student achievement to be included in teacher evaluations, though many districts have failed to comply in the decades since its 1971 passage, leaving them vulnerable to lawsuits. 

Truancy Rising in California; Worst Among Low-Income Students, Minorities

September 12 | Capital Public Radio

By Ben Adler

The report from the California Department of Justice estimates that more than a quarter-million elementary students were “chronically absent” last school year – missing class at least 10 percent of the time. That’s about 7.5 percent of all K-through-6th graders.

About 40,000 students missed twice that much – and of that group, nearly 90 percent are low-income. African-American children are chronically truant at nearly four times the rate of white kids.

California teacher tenure finally a major election issue

September 10 | Los Angeles Times

By George Skelton

The quality of California public schools — and most specifically their teachers — is a top issue in this election season. And it's about time.

It's front and center because of a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge's ruling in June. Judge Rolf M. Treu, appointed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995, threw out some state laws governing teacher job security, declaring them unconstitutional.