Edvoice - Issues

Five molestation victims reach $5.4 million settlement with Fresno-area school district

August 1 | The Fresno Bee

By Pablo Lopez

Five students who accused a former superintendent/principal of the Orange Center Elementary School District of molesting them inside his office during the 2013-2014 school year have settled their civil lawsuits against the district for $5.4 million.

Why an advocacy group is suing local school districts over teacher evaluations

July 29 | Daily Bulletin

By Joyce Tsai

Is it fair to use students’ standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness in the classroom?

A lawsuit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by Students Matter, the same education policy nonprofit that challenged the state’s teacher tenure system, says yes. And it believes districts that don’t use standardized tests to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness are violating the law.

The lawsuit, Jane Doe v. Antioch Unified School District et al, seeks to force 13 school districts — including Chaffey Joint Union in Ontario, Chino Valley Unified, El Monte City, Ontario-Montclair and Upland Unified school districts — to use state standardized test scores as one measure of teachers’ annual job reviews.

Parents retain right to enroll in schools near where they work

July 26 | Cabinet Report

By Tom Chorneau

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Monday that removes a July 2017 sunset on authorization for students to enroll in a school near where a parent or legal guardian works.

Assembly Bill 2537 from Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, represents the most recent relaxation of policy that governs family rights to enroll their children in a school district where they do not live.

Misnamed 'accountability' system for schools leaves parents in dark

July 25 | Sacramento Bee

By Dan Walters

The state Board of Education is on the verge of approving a mind-bendingly dense system of “accountability” for the state’s K-12 schools.

“Unaccountability” would be a better word.

The “multiple measures” system pending before the board would replace the test-oriented Academic Performance Index, which was in use for a decade and a half but has now been unceremoniously dumped.

Professional educators criticize the API, and a similarly oriented federal rating system, as being too simplistically narrow, too punitive and too prone to manipulation.

California's baffling new approach to evaluating public schools

July 22 | LA Times

The Times Editorial Board

It’s not easy to measure the performance of a school, because there are so many things that go into providing a good education. But neither should it be as hard as the State Board of Education is making it.

After three years of work, the board recently revealed a draft of its new annual accountability system for California schools. These are the report cards, in effect, that are to replace the old single-number Academic Performance Index by which schools have been judged for the last decade and a half. The API was based almost solely on the results of the annual standardized tests taken by students.

Two bills would preserve choice in enrollment

June 15 | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By The Editorial Board

The state Senate resoundingly passed a couple of bills to preserve school choice authored by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Brea. Now the Assembly should do the same.

One of Huff’s bills, SB 1432, would extend the 22-year-old California School District of Choice program, which has proven successful but is scheduled to sunset next year.

The other, SB 1156, would preserve the 6-year-old Open Enrollment Act by updating the main criterion for using it.

The District of Choice program allows parents to transfer their children to participating school districts without a transfer agreement.

How good is my kid's school? California tries to answer every parent's question

May 27 | L.A. Times

By Joy Resmovits

California is getting closer to defining what a good school should look like. But how will parents know if their school is one of them?

On Thursday, the federal government released draft regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s provisions on school accountability. Under the guidelines, states have to tell parents how their schools are doing on a range of factors — and also give the school an overall rating. 

The huge price tag for missing warnings of L.A. teachers abusing students: $300 million and counting

May 25 | L.A. Times

In a recent court hearing, one young man after another claimed that former Franklin High football coach Jaime Jimenez befriended them during summer practice before 9th grade, then sexually abused them.

But it’s not the allegations against Jimenez that are at the center of a lawsuit filed this month against the Los Angeles Unified School District. It’s about whether school officials once again missed — or ignored — warning signs about Jimenez that prolonged the alleged abuse.

State board may make it easier to follow the money

June 9 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

There’s no dispute: Districts are required to spend additional money they receive for low-income students, English learners and foster children under the Local Control Funding Formula on programs and services for those kids.

But there’s a big caveat that has largely escaped public notice: The obligation disappears at the end of a fiscal year. At that point, unspent dollars under the formula flow into one pool of unrestricted money that districts can use however they want.

That “loophole” would appear to contradict the intent, if not the spirit, of the law: spend targeted dollars on targeted kids to narrow the achievement gap. But under the language of the LCFF statute and the view of the state Department of Finance, using unspent targeted money for other purposes doesn’t violate the law and is acceptable in the new world of local control, in which districts have flexibility over funding, as long as they’re clear and open about what they are doing.

LA Unified shortchanging funding for high-needs students, state says

June 6 | 89.3 KPCC

State officials have ordered the Los Angeles Unified School District to spend hundreds of millions of more dollars on its highest-needs students, a move that is causing district officials to scramble in the last few weeks of their budget-making process.

The California Department of Education sided with advocates who calculated L.A. Unified shortchanged these vulnerable groups by $288 million this school year by, essentially, double-counting a large chunk of the funding it spent on special education services.