Edvoice - Issues

Opinion: California's achievement gap needs more than money

November 17 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Gov. Jerry Brown’s awkwardly named Local Control Funding Formula is aimed, he says, at closing the wide academic achievement gap between poor and/or “English-learner” students and more privileged kids.

However, improving the educations of underprivileged youngsters involves more – much more – than simply spending additional money, even if it is focused.

Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests

November 17 | Education Week

By Catherine Gewertz

In a move likely to cause political and academic stress in many states, a consortium that is designing assessments for the Common Core State Standards released data Monday projecting that more than half of students will fall short of the marks that connote grade-level skills on its tests of English/language arts and mathematics.

L.A. Unified says girl, 14, could consent to sex with teacher

November 14 | L.A. Times

By Teresa Watanabe

L.A. Unified officials are coming under fire for allowing their attorneys to argue that a 14-year-old student was mature enough to consent to sex with her middle school math teacher.

L.A. Unified schools chief to restore parent power to overhaul failing schools

November 11 | L.A Times

By Howard Blume, Teresa Watanabe

Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines said Tuesday that he will allow parents to petition for sweeping changes in their failing schools, reversing the district’s previous position that it was not subject this year to the "parent trigger" law allowing such overhauls.

Cortines’ decision effectively overturns the stand taken last November by then-Supt. John Deasy, who said the law could not be used because the district had obtained a waiver from federal educational requirements that are linked to it.

California's school test situation is a big jumble

November 3 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Beginning in the 1990s and continuing through three governorships, California bought into the school accountability movement, usually over objections of teacher unions and others in the education establishment.

Academic testing was ramped up, test results were used to rate the performances of local schools and school districts, and parents were empowered to use ratings to trigger conversion of poor-performing schools into charter schools.

Whether those tools improved academic achievement is still being debated. Meanwhile, the state is undertaking two major overhauls of its 6-million-student education system.

Deasy's exit reflects other school battles across the U.S.

October 21 | LA Times

By Teresa Watanabe, Stephen Ceasar

John Deasy was one of a group of big-city school leaders to push for radical change: More independent charter schools, using student test scores to help evaluate teachers and relying less on seniority when teachers are laid off.

And Deasy's departure as L.A. schools superintendent last week shows how difficult it has been for them to succeed.

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.

 

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