Edvoice - Issues

Commentary | School funding change: Promise of law still not fulfilled

October 6 | San Diego Union Tribune

By Norma Chavez-Peterson & Sylvia Torres-Guillen

Four years ago, the Local Control Funding Formula became law, fundamentally changing the way California funds school districts. It was supposed to usher in a new era giving more power and autonomy to districts, streamlining funding and — most importantly — leveling the playing field for students whom we often leave behind.

Specifically, the law provides school districts with more money to support low-income students, foster youth and English learners. While the American Civil Liberties Union believes the intended changes are critical, much of the law’s promise is still to be fulfilled.

Poll: Californians lean toward school choice, away from testing

October 4 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

When it comes to education, Californians see the wealthy awash in school choice, the poor with few options and, surprisingly, the middle class with some — but not a lot — of choices in selecting a school, a poll released Thursday shows.

So it’s no wonder that 55 percent of voters want government to offer vouchers or tax breaks to enable children from low-income families to attend private school; 46 percent would offer that government aid to parents of all income levels.

2017 California school test scores: Why are they flatlining?

September 27 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Naguchi

Breaking with its steadily upward trend, California’s annual test scores have stagnated, with fewer than half of students proficient in math and English, and a wide ethnic achievement gap persisting.

State scores released Wednesday show just 49 percent of students proficient in English and 37 percent proficient in math. The numbers are half a percentage-point different from 2016 — down in English and up in math. Tests were administered last spring to students in third through eighth grades and 11th grade.

California must find and fix its worst public schools. Here’s one way to start

September 28 | Los Angeles Times

By Joy Resmovits, Priya Krishnakumar and Ben Walsh

California just released its third round of scores on new, tougher standardized tests, and now the state is on the hook.

A federal law requires states to identify the bottom 5% of their schools next school year and take steps to fix them. California education officials have yet to develop a detailed plan of how to do that.

Rather than wait on the state, The Times assembled its own list. We identified California's lowest-scoring schools two years ago, when the new testing regime started, and tracked their results over time.

California called out as ‘a laggard in student achievement’ as test score improvement stalls

September 27 | LA School Report

By Sarah Favot

California’s public school students performed about the same this year as they did last year on standardized tests, with LA Unified students showing slightly more improvement. But you’d need a magnifying glass to see the differences.

California’s improvement in math was so minuscule that for the first time the results were released in decimal points. Its English language arts scores declined.

The state’s top education official is even foregoing the celebratory press conference.

Less than half of California students met the standards in either subject.

Editorial: The pendulum swings too far on school accountability

September 5 | Los Angeles Times

By The Times Editorial Board

Is California’s commitment to school accountability dead? Probably not, but it’s certainly withering.

The days of California’s Academic Performance Index and the federal No Child Left Behind Act are over, and they won’t be missed. The API’s obsessive insistence on measuring schools solely on the basis of a couple of annual tests led to an era in which arts, science and physical fitness were given short shrift. No Child Left Behind layered a set of rigid, punitive rules on top, and the Obama administration’s attempts to dictate school policy through its Race to the Top initiative was overly intrusive.

California’s response to federal school accountability law falls short

September 3 | CALmatters

By Dan Walters 

One of the less heralded – albeit, one of the more important – of the many clashes between Sacramento and Washington these days has to do with accountability for educating the state’s 6-plus million K-12 students.

Gov. Jerry Brown, state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson and the state Board of Education have indicated by word and deed that they want soft oversight of how local schools are performing. That’s particularly true regarding how well schools are using billions of dollars in extra state aid to close the “achievement gap” separating poor, Latino and black students from their more affluent white and Asian classmates.

Editorial: Report cards for California schools needed

September 1 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Chronicle Editorial Board

The California Legislature is strongly resisting federal action on almost all fronts — climate, civil rights, environment, immigration, law enforcement — but not education. There is demonstrated support for an annual report card on how each school spends local, state and federal funding and what progress it has made on measures of student academic achievement. The Brown administration however is resisting such concise reporting. It should not.

By Sept. 18, California must submit to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos its plan for spending $2.6 billion in federal education funding. While that sum represents just 3 percent of total funding for California’s K-12 schools, the required state-developed accountability plan would serve as a blueprint for a broader plan for all education spending in California.

Chased out of Arkansas as a child, Shirley Weber won’t back down in California Capitol

August 31 | CALmatters

By Jessica Calefati

When Shirley Weber and her siblings fled this place as children in 1951 on a midnight train bound for California, their destination seemed so distant and unfamiliar to the relatives who stayed behind that they called the state a foreign land.

As Weber stood at the edge of her family’s 100-acre farm on a recent visit, her first in decades, memories of her birthplace came flooding back. She and her cousins swapped stories about shelling peas on her aunt’s screened-in porch, how dark it got at night before the city installed street lights, and what forced her family to flee—her sharecropper father’s refusal to back down during a dispute with a white farmer, and the lynch mob that threatened to take his life.


Commentary: Teacher quality is determined in the classroom, not by a credential

August 30 | LA School Report

By Haena Shin

Teachers can tell when they are effective. In my first year as a special education teacher in a pre-kindergarten setting, the signs were small but profound — a nonverbal student who started to greet me in the mornings, a student who didn’t know how to hold a pencil properly who learned to write full sentences about books he read, a student who memorized over 100 sight words, and a student who didn’t know his numbers who began to start adding and subtracting.

My principal also noted this growth, and his vote of confidence helped me earn a Rookie of the Year award at Los Angeles Unified School District while I was teaching on an intern credential.

It’s this experience that makes me seriously doubt the California State Board of Education’s new plan to label thousands of teachers as “ineffective” based solely on the credential they bring to the classroom, not their or their students’ performance. In fact, many of the fellow intern credentialed teachers that I have taught with have not only shown mastery of classroom management and instruction but also exceeded the expectations of their administrators and were recognized at their school sites.