Edvoice - Issues

California Bill Would Exempt Veteran Teachers from State Income Taxes

March 10 | EdWeek

By Emmanuel Felton

Two California state senators think the solution to the state's teacher shortages can be found in its tax code.

If it passes, Senate Bill 807 would exempt teachers with more than five years of experience from paying state income taxes for the next ten years. That would essentially give every veteran teacher a 4 percent to 6 percent raise overnight. The bill also hopes to remove some of the barriers for new teachers entering the profession by giving them tax credits to help cover the costs of the trainings required to become a fully certified teacher in the Golden State.

Teacher Beat talked with Bill Lucia, the president and CEO of EdVoice, the nonprofit behind the campaign, about the details of the proposal and whether the bill is politically viable.

Editorial: California needs to improve its complex new school 'dashboard.' Here's how

March 6 | LA Times

By The Times Editorial Team

California education officials have managed to make their new school-accountability system even more complicated. The new “dashboard,” which replaces the old numbers-based Academic Performance Index, has a welcome goal: ending the over-reliance on test scores as a way to measure a school’s quality. But here’s the unfortunate byproduct: The dashboard has morphed into a tough-to-understand jumble of pie charts, ratings and text offering measurements of a school’s performance on nearly a dozen different factors, some obviously relevant and others not so much. Tellingly, the slide show that the state has posted to help people use the new dashboard runs 38 slides long.

To attract teachers, pricey school districts are becoming their landlords

March 2 | CALmatters

By Ben Christopher

Rizi Manzon is a teacher, so naturally, he has a lot to worry about: a stack of homework assignments to grade, a week’s worth of culinary arts classes to prepare for, kitchen supplies to purchase on his own time and dime. And the assorted crises, dramas, and anxieties of the 36 teenagers in his care at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.

But unlike most public school educators in California’s Silicon Valley, one thing Manzon doesn’t need to worry about is how he’s going to pay rent this month.

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.