Edvoice - Issues

State awards $20 million in grants to help more school employees become teachers

EdSource | December 21

By Fermin Leal

Twenty-five California school districts and county offices of education will share $20 million in state grants to help their support staff earn teaching credentials.

The funding from the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program is aimed at helping classified employees, or those in jobs that don’t require teaching licenses, earn bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials by providing aid for their tuition and other costs.

SD schools prepare to make cuts, cover teacher raises

December 14 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

By Maureen Magee

The San Diego Unified School District has started combing through its $1.3 billion operating budget in search of cost-cutting measures — including “strategic” layoffs —  to offset a projected $117 million deficit.

In approving its first interim budget report on Tuesday, the school board certified the 2017-18 spending plan as “qualified,” meaning the district may not be able to meet its financial obligations next year.

California loses bid to suspend science tests

December 14 | The Mercury News

By Sharon Noguchi

Raising the specter of a possible loss of billions of dollars in federal funds, U.S. education officials on Tuesday rejected California’s request to skip standardized science testing for two years while test-driving a newer version of the exams.

Federal law requires states to administer and report annual tests in English, math and science. California’s proposal to suspend the science tests in 2017 and 2018  would deny schools and families data about science achievement and also violate federal education laws, U.S. officials wrote in a letter.

As a result, California’s Department of Education won’t be able to assess progress in science learning nor be able to communicate that to schools and the public, according to the letter by Ann Whalen, an adviser to Education Secretary John B. King Jr.

As charter schools grow, they face challenge of hiring amid a teacher shortage

EdSource | December 7

By Fermin Leal 

As California struggles with a teacher shortage, charter schools face distinct challenges recruiting teachers.

Those challenges are exacerbated by the rapid expansion of charters, with the number of schools more than doubling in the past decade.

“The teacher shortage is being felt everywhere, but charters often have more to overcome,” said Kelly Hurley, chief talent officer of Green Dot Public Schools, a chain of 19 charters in Los Angeles that had 30 teaching jobs not filled by fully credentialed teachers at the start of the school year.

California teacher shortage worsens, especially in cities

November 30 | San Francisco Chronicle

By Jill Tucker

The teacher shortage across California is getting worse, hitting urban districts hardest, but pinching even rural and suburban schools as well, according to a survey released Wednesday.

As a result, students are seeing a revolving cast of substitutes, canceled courses and less qualified teachers in their classrooms, according to district officials who were surveyed.

Charter challenges appellate ruling to state Supreme Court

November 29 | San Diego Tribune

By Maureen Magee

A Northern California charter school has turned to the state’s highest court to review and potentially reverse an appellate court ruling that calls into question the legality of hundreds of satellite charter campuses.

California’s charter school industry suffered a major blow in October when a state appellate court ruled that a charter school cannot operate mini-campuses outside its home district in its resident county. Growth in satellite charters has stirred turf wars and costly litigation locally and throughout San Diego County and state.

California faces 'skills gap' that colleges aren't closing

November 29 | The Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

The Public Policy Institute of California analyzes dozens of pithy issues, but sitting atop its priority list is the state’s troubled higher education system.

Once the envy of the world, California’s three-level system – the University of California, the California State University system, and more than 100 locally governed community colleges – is now buffeted by a perfect economic, cultural and political storm.

PPIC’s latest report underscores its dilemma. It found that “the vast majority of students entering California’s community colleges are identified as unprepared for college and placed in remedial courses…”

Teachers union considers strike after Fresno Unified officials walk out of negotiations

November 29 | The Fresno Bee

By Mackenzie Mays

The Fresno Teachers Association is considering going on strike after failed attempts to make public the typically private bargaining negotiations with Fresno Unified officials.

“We’re definitely looking at preparing for a strike if we need to,” FTA President Tish Rice said. “But I’m hopeful that we have reasonable people that will say, ‘Let’s work together for the students.’ We just want the district to negotiate with us in a way that is in good faith and honest and transparent.”

The achievement gap grew in 2016

November 23 | Sacramento Bee

By Phillip Reese

Test scores in California improved this year - but the test score gap between the haves and have-nots got wider, too.

About 440 large California schools aced 2016 Common Core tests, with more than three quarters of their students meeting new math standards.

But just 7 of those schools also had a higher proportion of students classified as "economically disadvantaged" than the statewide average. In other words, 98 percent of the state’s highest-performing schools on the new math test had a relatively low proportion of students in poverty.

The test score achievement gap between wealthy and poor students is much larger under California's new Common Core tests than the gap was under older tests.


Obama administration to release new rules for judging schools

November 28 | Washington Post

By Emma Brown

The U.S. Education Department on Monday released final regulations governing how states should judge which schools are doing well and which are struggling and require help, a contentious set of rules that has pitted the Obama administration and its civil rights allies against an unusual alliance of teachers unions and GOP leaders.

But for all the debate, it is unclear — given Republican Donald Trump’s surprise election — whether the new rules will much matter. Trump has pledged a smaller federal footprint in public education, giving rise to speculation that his administration is likely to either rewrite the new regulations entirely, giving states more leeway to handle school accountability as they wish, or render the rules meaningless by declining to enforce them.