Edvoice - Issues

California audit clears L.A.'s largest charter school network of misspending

April 13 | LA Times

By Anna M. Phillips

A state audit released Thursday of Alliance College-Ready Public Schools has cleared the charter school network of any financial wrongdoing in relation to its efforts to fight unionization.

Alliance operates 28 middle and high school charters in Los Angeles. Charter schools are publicly funded, but privately managed. Alliance teachers, as in most charters, are not represented by a union. But two years ago, 67 Alliance teachers began advocating to join United Teachers Los Angeles, a move that the charter network fiercely opposed.

Jon Hamm: Paying teachers more is 'one of the most obvious things we could do to improve life'

April 7 | Business Insider

By Aine Cain

Before he made it big on "Mad Men," actor Jon Hamm went back to his roots, returning to his old St. Louis high school to work as a drama teacher for two years.

Hamm told Wealthsimple that it was one of the jobs he's held that taught him the most.

However, the job came with some drawbacks, too.

"The downside is that teachers in general are pretty under-respected and underpaid," he told Wealthsimple. "That's a real drag."

Having worked in education, Hamm discussed his own feelings about improvements to be made in the field — and society at large.

Even under adjusted funding formula, California's poorest schools still lose out, report says

April 5 | LA Times

By Joy Resmovits

A funding formula signed into law four years ago has mostly leveled the playing field among the state’s school districts, a report released Thursday found — but the money is not necessarily going to the neediest students.

The Local Control Funding Formula, championed by California Gov. Jerry Brown, was intended to remedy educational inequities by giving districts extra money based on how many of their students were in high-needs categories: low-income children, foster youth and English learners.

California teachers might soon get a surprise on their taxes

April 5 | Second Nexus

By Jordan Rosenfeld

California’s growing teacher shortage is reaching crisis levels. Attracting new teachers is becoming increasingly difficult as the profession has failed to remain competitive with rising living costs, and older teachers are retiring in droves. However, California has a fairly radical new solution to both attract new teachers and increase retention: Two California state senators, Democrats Henry Stern of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, have co-authored a California bill, SB 807, that offers K-12 teachers financial incentive to stay in the profession longer. To encourage them to continue teaching beyond the traditional burnout period of five years, California teachers would be exempt from paying state income tax, and receive reimbursement for any additional state-mandated training. That exemption would go up even higher after six years, and would grandfather in teachers who have already been working in the field.   

Outside the limelight, rural schools face challenges in finding, and keeping, teachers

April 5 | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

Walking through the hallways of Tranquility Elementary School, Principal Matt Kinnunen regularly pokes his head into classrooms to check on his teachers, especially the newer ones.

He asks about their day, assists them with student lessons and offers advice. It’s part of a routine to help them feel valued and supported. And maybe that will keep a few from leaving the small, rural campus in California’s Central Valley, a region hit especially hard by the state’s ongoing teacher shortage.

California eyes teacher pay boosts to keep them in state

April 2 | Los Angeles Daily News

By Beau Yarbrough

A bipartisan group of Sacramento legislators are polishing up a bushel of apples, with bills intended to increase the number of teachers in California’s schools — and keep them from fleeing the state, or the profession entirely, a few years in.

“If there’s not a whole lot of support and they’re working long hours for low money, they leave the field,” said Wendy Murawski, the executive director and Eisner Endowed Chair of Cal State Northridge’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “Everybody comes in and wants to give 110 percent, but you can’t do that long term.”

The bills introduced this year include ones that give teachers tax credits, exempt them from state income taxes, prevent districts from charging new teachers fees, give financial incentives for teaching in under-served communities and provide grants for them to teach certain hard-to-fill subjects.

Teachers sound off on SF’s slow pace on housing crisis

March 23 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Heather Knight

Anybody used to sitting through public comment at Board of Supervisors meetings knows the vent sessions are usually mind-numbing affairs requiring a lot of caffeine and even more patience.

That certainly wasn’t the case Wednesday night as scores of teachers lined up to speak for hours about the devastation being wrought on their profession in San Francisco. The stories were riveting and heart-wrenching. Two-, three- and even five-hour daily commutes. Paying 75 percent of their salary for a studio apartment for their family of three. The “lucky” ones who have their own in-law units without kitchens.

Working two or three side jobs to make rent. Couch-surfing with other teachers after an eviction. Seeing multiple colleagues from their schools leave every year for better salaries and cheaper rent elsewhere. Wondering how much longer they can remain in the job they love.

California school districts increased spending on administrator pay faster than teacher pay

By Phillip Reese

As funding grew following years of budget cuts, California school districts increased spending for administrator pay faster than they raised spending for teacher pay, a Bee review of state financial data found.

General fund spending by school districts on teacher salaries rose by 15 percent, or $3 billion, from the 2010-11 school year to 2015-16. During the same period, administrator pay grew by 27 percent, or $700 million.

Adjusted for inflation, California’s school districts spent less money on teacher salaries in 2015-16 than they did in 2006-2007, the last year before the recession. The opposite was true for administrators: Districts spent slightly more on administrators in 2015-16 than they did during the year before the recession.

L.A. Unified diverts funding for neediest students, report changes

March 20 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Los Angeles Unified has steered additional money to high schools with large concentrations of disadvantaged students over the past three years, but failed to do so for elementary schools, a report released Monday concluded. For those schools, the district ignored the requirement of the Local Control Funding Formula to direct extra resources and establish effective programs in schools with low-income students, foster youths, homeless students and English learners, which the law defines as high-needs students.

To retain teachers, lawmakers push to exempt them from state income tax

March 19 | EdSource

By Fermin Leal

Teachers on the job for at least five years would be exempt from paying state income taxes under a bill that aims to increase the number of teachers entering and staying in the profession.

Senate Bill 807, or the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, is part of a series of bills lawmakers are currently proposing to help ease California’s teacher shortage.

SB 807 would also provide tax credits for education students working to obtain their credential or advanced degrees. If it becomes law, California would be the first state in the nation to exempt teachers from paying state taxes.