Edvoice - Issues

See which college degrees lead to well-paying jobs

May 24 | Sacramento Bee

By Phillip Reese

Hundreds of thousands of California college students will graduate this month, many hoping their degree translates into a well-paying job.

They have reason to be optimistic: Earnings for college graduates age 35 and younger in any discipline tend to be much higher than earnings for those in the same age group without a college degree.

But some degrees lead to well-paying jobs faster than others. Using census data, The Bee looked at the percentage of Californians age 35 and under with college degrees who reported earning at least $50,000 a year.

California tolerates failing schools for millions of kids

May 16 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

As they declare implacable resistance to Donald Trump, politicians from Gov. Jerry Brown downward portray California as an island of tolerance.

That’s certainly true in one respect. We Californians, including our politicians, tolerate a K-12 school system that’s failing to properly educate millions of poor students of color.

Yes, those politicians talk a lot about the “achievement gap” that separates those students from their more privileged white and Asian-American classmates, and throw a lot of money at it.

Democrats reject an attempt to help kids in need of a break

May 16 | Sacramento Bee

By The Editoral Board

Democratic legislators purport to defend foster kids, poor children who receive subsidized school lunches and English-language learners.

So they should have readily supported legislation that would have allowed those students to attend the public school of their choice. They didn’t.

In Assembly Bill 1482, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Roseville, seeks to bar school districts from denying the transfer of students for whom English is a second language, foster children or kids who qualify for reduced-cost meals. It would be similar to existing laws that permit working parents and military parents to enroll their children in towns where they work.

Teacher tax cut bill clears finance committee

May 10 | The Signal Santa Clara Valley

By Gina Ender

California teachers are one step closer to tax credits and exemptions after Senator Henry Stern’s (D-Canoga Park) bill passed the Governance and Finance Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 807, also referred to as the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, was voted on unanimously by the committee 6-0. Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) co-authored the bill.

If the bill becomes law, it would provide new public school teachers with tax credits to be applied to up to half the cost of their clear teaching credential, which would save about $1,200. Additionally, it would waive income taxes on half of their income from their sixth through tenth year of teaching.

This lawmaker learned to revere education after her parents fled Jim Crow. Now she’s tackling teacher tenure

May 11 | Los Angeles Times

By George Skelton

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s father moved his family from Hope, Ark., to Los Angeles when she was 3. He had a compelling reason: A lynch mob was chasing him.

David Nash was a black farmer. He worked his own land and sharecropped other people’s. After one harvest, he got into an argument with white operators of a weigh station about the size of his crop.

“You couldn’t argue with them,” Weber says. “To argue with them was to call them a liar. They got very angry and wanted him made an example. They came to lynch my father, but a relative sneaked him out of town in the dead of night.”

In today’s world, that may seem unbelievable. But in 1951 in the segregated South — years before integrated schools, lunch counters and restrooms — it was scary reality.

'I just refuse to die,' says Democrat fighting uphill battle to reform schools

May 7 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

Shirley Weber is a frontline soldier in California’s war over public education – and often surrounded by those on the other side.

“All of my friends are teachers, and I guess all of my enemies too,” Weber, a Democratic assemblywoman from San Diego, said half-seriously during a contentious hearing last month on her bill to require longer probationary periods for new teachers.

She spoke as the California Teachers Association and dozens of teachers lined up to oppose her bill and as she exchanged sharp words with the Assembly Education Committee chairman, former teacher Patrick O’Donnell, who at one point cut off her microphone.

An investment in teacher training would pay off for California: Guest commentary

May 8 | Los Angeles Daily News

By Bill Lucia

California’s leadership in the nation and world depends on public schools working well for every child. Yet we’re in the midst of the state’s worst teacher shortage on record.

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has plummeted 76 percent over the past decade, and nearly three-quarters of school district have hiring difficulties.

This is alarming, since teachers are the most important factor in student learning. Today’s shortage is structural, with nearly a third of teachers departing within their first five years and leaving at far greater rates in high-poverty schools. That’s 50 percent higher turnover than is seen among California’s brave first responders. According to state data, nearly 4,600 new teachers — across all subjects — must be hired in Los Angeles County alone this fall.

Teacher complaints lead to improvements in state tests

April 16 | EdSource

By Theresa Harrington

Changes are underway to fix flaws in tests designed to help teachers pinpoint student weaknesses before they take Common Core–aligned assessments each spring.

The tests, known as “interim assessments,” are similar to the end-of-the year Smarter Balanced assessments that are used to assess student achievement and progress, as well as that of their schools and districts, in math and English language arts. More than 3 million California students take the Smarter Balanced assessments each year.

Many teachers have given the optional interim tests to their students during the school year to gauge how they are doing, hoping to adjust what or how they teach in advance of the final assessments that are used to fulfill state and federal accountability requirements.

But a panel of three teachers and a school district administrator told the Assembly Education Committee at a hearing in Sacramento earlier this month that they couldn’t get a clear picture of students’ progress because the reports they received on how students did on the interim assessments lacked enough detail to be useful. Specifically, the reports didn’t include any of the questions on the interim tests, students’ responses or the specific standards they were tested on.

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.