Edvoice - Issues

Brown's school finance overhaul could be a cruel joke on poor kids

March 11 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

The Local Control Funding Formula is Jerry Brown’s experiment in closing the “achievement gap” in California’s public schools separating poor and “English learner” students from their more privileged classmates.

Persuaded by Michael Kirst, an education scholar, his longtime friend and president of the State Board of Education, Brown championed a radical change in state school aid that provides more money to districts with large numbers of “at-risk” students, to be spent on improving their learning.

Curiously, however, Brown and Kirst have been very reluctant to account for how the extra billions of dollars have been spent, or whether they have, in fact, narrowed the achievement gap.

No state taxes for California teachers for a decade. Unique bill seeks to pinch off the poachers

March 10 | LA School Report

By Mike Szymanski

To keep teachers from being poached across state lines and offset a serious teacher shortage, California lawmakers are looking at a first-ever proposal to exempt educators from state taxes for the next decade.

While some states have no income tax, the bill would make California the only state in the nation to allow teachers who have worked more than five years in the classroom to be exempt from all state tax obligations through 2027, which translates to a 4 percent to 6 percent raise.

It would also give tax credits to all new teachers to cover their training and credentialing costs.


California Mulls Eliminating Income Tax for Teachers

March 10 | U.S. News & World Report

By Lauren Camera

California legislators are hoping a proposal to eliminate income tax for teachers will help attract young people into the profession and keep them there at a time when the state is hemorrhaging educators and lacks a pipeline.

Notably, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, introduced by two state Senate Democrats, is the first of its kind in California and in the country. While a handful of states give retirees tax breaks on their pensions, and others, including Maryland and New Jersey, have toyed with the idea of eliminating income tax for law enforcement officers, it doesn’t appear that any have seriously considered cutting the income tax for the teaching profession.


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.