Edvoice - Issues

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.


UC regents asked to lift a six-year tuition freeze and approve a 2.5% increase for this fall

January 25 | LA Times

By Teresa Watanabe

University of California President Janet Napolitano urged regents Wednesday to approve a tuition increase to help the nation’s premier public research university system maintain its quality amid surging enrollment and reduced levels of state support.

“More investment is needed to make sure that this generation, and future generations, of UC students receive the same quality of education as past generations,” Napolitano told regents in opening remarks at the two-day meeting in San Francisco.

The regents will consider a proposal to raise tuition to $11,502 for the 2017-18 school year — a 2.5%, or $282, increase. The student services fee would increase by $54 to $1,128. If approved, it would be the first tuition increase since the 2010-2011 school year. 

THIS WEEK: Millions of Californians to Raise Awareness of School Choice At 1,750 Events Across Golden State

January 22 | BusinessWire

National School Choice Week begins today in California and across the country. There are 1750 events planned in the Golden State to raise awareness about K-12 school choice, and 21,392 events nationwide. 29 counties and cities have officially proclaimed School Choice Week.

The events in California, which are independently planned and independently funded, include everything from information sessions and open houses at schools to rallies, policy discussions, and movie screenings organized by community groups. Highlighted events include a large school choice fair January 28 at Nova Academy in Santa Ana.

The counties of Madera, Stanislaus, Riverside, Amador, El Dorado, Glenn, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo and cities of Adelanto, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Coachella, Concord, Covina, Dublin, Hanford, Hesperia, Manteca, Monte Sereno, Newark, Oceanside, Palm Desert, Rancho Cordova, Redwood City, San Ramon, Sandy Creek, Tracy, Victorville, and West Hollywood have issued official proclamations recognizing January 22-28, 2017 as “School Choice Week.”

California schools earn C- in national ranking

January 5 | Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

Education leaders in recent years have lauded achievement gains and progress of California’s K-12 students, but an annual national report card has rated the Golden State below mediocre — a solid C-minus, 10th from the bottom among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Nearly across the board in multiple categories graded by the magazine Education Week, California scored below the national average. California earned 69.9 out of 100 points. As a whole, the nation received a C. Massachusetts ranked at the top, followed by New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland and Connecticut; all earned a B.

County board overrules LAUSD to keep the embattled Magnolia charter schools open

December 22 | Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume

A little-known county board overruled its own staff and the powerful Los Angeles Unified School District this week to allow three embattled charter schools to remain open.

The reprieve represents a full turnabout for Magnolia Public Schools, which faced the shutdown of its campuses after L.A. Unified moved against them in October. 

The L.A. Unified board voted 6 to 0 to shutter the schools at the end of the current school year. But the charter group had the option of appealing to the board of the L.A. County Office of Education, and that body reached a different decision Tuesday, by a 4-1 vote, after three hours of testimony and discussion.