Edvoice - Issues

How does California rank in per-pupil spending? It all depends

February 28 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

As Californians struggle to determine what constitutes a sufficient level of education funding, one yardstick is what California spends compared with other states. So here’s a question: How does California rank in K-12 per-pupil spending nationally in the latest studies? a) 46th; b) 41st; c) 29th; d) 22nd.

The answer is all of them. Depending on how spending is calculated and how up-to-date the data are, the per-student amount differs by thousands of dollars, and the state’s ranking varies widely.

California education officials reject Long Beach's request to replace statewide assessment with SAT

February 23 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Half-dozen states are planning to swap their 11th-grade statewide assessment tests for the SAT this spring. Long Beach Unified wanted to join them, but California’s state superintendent and State Board of Education president emphatically said no.

In a lengthy letter last month, the superintendent of California’s third-largest district asked the State Board of Education for permission to substitute the SAT for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam in math and English language arts, which the state requires all districts to give. Long Beach currently administers both tests, which it says is pointlessly duplicative.

 

SF educators still waiting for promised teacher housing

February 14 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Heather Knight

Hilary Elfman is the kind of teacher San Francisco Unified School District needs to keep, but the odds of that happening decrease every time the special-education teacher surfs the Internet looking for housing she can afford.

The 29-year-old quit an unsatisfying career in advertising to get her teaching credential, hoping to find a calling that “had more of an impact on people’s lives.” She’s in her first year at San Francisco Public Montessori Elementary in Pacific Heights, working one-on-one with 22 special-needs children. It’s a position that’s hard to fill in any school district, let alone one in a city with insane housing prices.

That California teacher shortage? It's already a crisis

February 10 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

A recent survey of 211 school districts by the California School Boards Association and the Palo Alto-based Learning Policy Institute shows state efforts to address a long-anticipated and increasingly dire teacher shortage have been woefully inadequate. That’s got to change, because what’s happening isn’t a headache. It’s a crisis.

Jerry Brown, legislators headed for budget clash?

February 3 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

State budgets have been easy-peasy political exercises in recent years, thanks to hefty increases in revenue from an expanding economy.

Gov. Jerry Brown has annually proposed budgets he characterizes as “prudent,” meaning they don’t spend everything coming in and set aside a few billion dollars in rainy-day reserves.

The Legislature, dominated by fellow Democrats of somewhat more liberal leanings, tries to raise spending. Brown then gives a little ground to the pleaders, but also makes some symbolic line-item reductions, and that’s that.

Jacqui Irwin: Preserve the district of choice program

January 28 | Ventura County Star

By Jacqui Irwin

The Oak Park Unified School District, located in the heart of Conejo Valley, stands out as an excellent institution of learning for our young population.

Having earned numerous awards over the years as a top-performing district, its elementary, middle and high schools focus on creative pathways for students to excel in a variety of courses. In fact, Oak Park High School was recently ranked seventh among California high schools by Newsweek magazine and boasts robotics and computer animation courses so students can learn about science and art from a unique perspective. This is not your typical classroom experience.

Unfortunately, this district is facing a dramatic loss of funding due to state law. Oak Park Unified is known as a “district of choice,” which means it accepts transfer students from surrounding districts regardless of academic or athletic ability. As the law currently stands, the district of choice program is slated to end on July 1. This will effectively remove kids from Oak Park Unified and prevent any new ones from transferring into the district through this program.

California will administer new pilot science test despite U.S. Department of Education ruling

January 29 | EdSource

By Pat Maio 

In less than two months, California will begin giving public school students a pilot version of an online test based on new science standards – one of the first states to do so in the United States.

About 17 states are in various stages of rolling out assessments based on the new Next Generation Science Standards, which emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s. Yet none of those states have progressed as far as California in developing a pilot version based on the standards that California will administer to students in the 5th, 8th and 10th grade. 

Creative accounting solved school district’s big financial headache

January 27 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Officials of the huge Los Angeles Unified School District woke up with a splitting financial headache one day last year.

The state Department of Education accused the district of improperly spending hundreds of millions of dollars it had received from the state to improve the learning of poor and “English learner” students.

How L.A. Unified’s headache was relieved is an eye-opening exercise in creative political accounting.

Parents need more help choosing schools in Los Angeles, report says

January 27 | LA Times

By Howard Blume

Despite the school district’s promises and efforts to simplify its systems, choosing a public school for your child in Los Angeles is not for the faint of heart. Various campuses and programs have different deadlines, forms and application rules.

A new report from the local group Parent Revolution asserts that parents are dissatisfied and poorly served by a system that makes access to high-quality programs complicated and especially challenging for unsophisticated or low-income families.

CSU to consider 5 percent tuition increase

January 25 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Nanette Asimov

California State University leaders want to increase undergraduate tuition by 5 percent and will ask the Board of Trustees next week to raise the cost for the first time since 2011.

The trustees won’t decide until March. But the price increase, which would take effect next fall, is expected to be approved because this is the first year that CSU is permitted to raise tuition under Gov. Jerry Brown’s multiyear funding plan for the university. The plan guaranteed state funding increases of at least 4 percent for CSU from 2013 to 2017 on condition that the trustees keep tuition flat.

 

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