Edvoice - Issues

The Long Beach Miracle

February 2 | The Atlantic

By Lillian Mongeau

What are the school colors? Is the whole school free? What happens if you miss a class? Is there detention? How many books are there in the library?

These were just some of the questions eager Long Beach Unified School District 9- and 10-year-olds tossed during their Long Beach City College tour last spring. 

Every fourth-grade student in Long Beach’s public schools attends a tour like this and all fifth-graders visit California State University, Long Beach, known as Long Beach State. The tours are just one example of the many ways the three biggest public-education systems in this working-class, seaside California city cooperate. Long Beach City College, Long Beach State, and the Long Beach Unified School District have cooperated for about two decades on initiatives like early college tours, targeted professional development for teachers, and college-admissions standards that favor local students.

The results have been so stunning that the city was cited by state lawmakers as a model last week when they unveiled a legislative package called the California College Promise. Were they to pass, the collection of bills would make several of Long Beach’s practices into state policy with the aim of seeing more California children to and through college.

California Department of Education publishes list of the state's lowest-performing schools

January 19 | The California Aggie

By Caroline Staudnraus

After an initial controversial decision to withhold the list, the California Department of Education (CDE) published a list of its lowest-performing schools in December 2015.

Critics and education advocacy groups immediately reacted to the news that the open enrollment list would not be published. Among these critics was Republican Senator Bob Huff from the 29th District, which includes large portions of Los Angeles and Orange County.

“The law required the publication of the list regardless of data used. The legislature created this statue in 2010 saying that kids were entitled to be informed of their school’s low performance and transfer to a new district in a higher performing school if it had room,” said Bill Lucia, president of EdVoice with a masters in economics from UC Davis.

U.S. should reject state's bid for school waiver

January 18 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the remaining intact portions of the law it supersedes, 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act, continue to require every state to have a simple metric that provides a snapshot of how well a school is doing. While the new law has far fewer requirements than No Child Left Behind, it does mandate that schools that finish in the bottom 5 percent of this metric be identified and face state intervention.

This is what prompted state Board of Education President Mike Kirst and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Education last week requesting a waiver from federal law that would allow the state to use fuzzy, vague multi-part measures of school performance. We hope the Obama adminstration rejects the request, as it has previous request from California to avoid complying with federal education mandates.

Michelle King is new superintendent for Los Angeles Unified School District

January 12 | Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe

For months, a high-profile head-hunting firm searched the nation for a new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. On Monday evening, the Board of Education gave the job to a candidate who was part of the district all along: Chief Deputy Supt. Michelle King.

California's list of poor schools posted again

January 4 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Facing a lawsuit threat, the state Department of Education has changed its position on posting a list of low-performing schools whose students could be transferred to schools with higher academic test scores.

Dan Walters: Refusal to offer low-achieving school list creates new front in California's school war

December 21 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Six years ago, the Legislature adopted a landmark measure to give parents – particularly poor parents – more power over their children’s educations.

The education establishment, especially unions, didn’t like it, but refusing to compete for a “Race to the Top” federal grant was an unpalatable option.

The best-known aspect of the measure, carried by Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero, was the “parent trigger” that allowed parents of children in low-performing schools to intervene – even seizing control.

The effect on the “parent trigger” is still uncertain, but Torlakson, citing the API’s suspension, is refusing to publish a list of the 1,000 low-achieving schools, thus blocking parents from sending their children to ones with better ratings.

Dan Walters: Sparks fly over California teacher lawsuit (with video)

December 15 | Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s meeting of the Assembly Education Committee quickly evolved into a sharp-edged skirmish in California’s perpetual war over the direction of its public schools.

A loose coalition of civil rights and school reform groups has been battling with the education establishment on multiple fronts over how to deal with the “achievement gap” that separates millions of poor and/or “English learner” students from their more affluent classmates. 

The No Child Left Behind replacement could disrupt California's school rating plans

December 9 | LA Times

By Joy Resmovits

The U.S. Senate voted 85 to 12 Wednesday to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bill that would replace the unpopular education law known as No Child Left Behind.

Shortly after the vote, the White House announced that President Barack Obama plans to sign the bill Thursday. But even before the bill made it to Obama’s desk, a debate about what the new bill means for California’s schools began to swirl. 

Senate overwhelmingly passes new national education legislation

December 9 | The Washington Post

By Lyndsey Layton

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved sweeping legislation that resets Washington’s relationship with the nation’s 100,000 public schools, ending the landmark No Child Left Behind Act and sending significant power back to states and local districts while maintaining limited federal oversight of education.

These California districts are measuring schools in a new way

December 4 | Los Angeles Times

By Joy Resmovits

Starting in February, a group of California districts will begin evaluating their schools on more than just test scores.

On Friday, a group including some of the largest school systems in the state called CORE will unveil its new formula for measuring public schools at the California School Boards Assn. Conference in San Diego.

And for the first time, new metrics will count: In addition to academic performance, school scores will account for how safe children feel in school, suspension rates, skills not measured by traditional academic tests such as self-control and social awareness, and how quickly students who don't speak English are learning the language, among other factors. The idea is to evaluate schools in a more nuanced way that captures a broader picture of what happens in schools. The group is also releasing preliminary results on its first attempts at using those measures.