California's 2nd attempt to meet federal education law looks much the same

By Kyle Stokes

When California submitted its plan to comply with a new federal education law late last year, the U.S. Department of Education officials didn't seem too impressed.

California's plan to follow the Every Student Succeeds Act, or "ESSA" — the latest iteration of a longstanding federal mandate that states must identify and help the worst-performing schools — was essentially incomplete, the feds said. That response only fueled the fears of advocates and civil rights groups, already worried California's ESSA plan would shortchange vulnerable kids.

Dozens of California districts with worst test scores excluded from extra state help

By Jessica Calefati 

Dozens of California school systems with some of the state’s worst test scores and biggest academic achievement gaps won’t get any extra help this year under a support system launched recently by the state.

The new dashboard system rates districts in several categories that impact student learning. But—mirroring a nationwide shift away from a narrow focus on tests—it offers special help to ones with sagging academics only if they also suspend a high number of students or graduate too few of them.

Politics California wanted to bridge the digital divide but left rural areas behind. Now that's about to change

By Jazmine Ulloa

Until a few years ago, most students in Winters — a farming community of 7,000 west of Sacramento — did not have computers at home. So the city’s then-mayor, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, pushed for a program that enabled the school district’s sixth-graders to check out laptops along with their textbooks.

Their parents were required to learn how to use the computers as well. For some, it was their first time surfing the web or sending an email.

Commentary: Brown relents a little on school accountability

By Dan Walters

For years, Gov. Jerry Brown has preached a secular version of a religious principle called “subsidiarity,” asserting that local officials should have flexibility to act without micromanagement from Sacramento.

In practice, he’s not always adhered to the principle, but has been particularly stubborn about applying it to the state’s six-million-student public education system, rejecting demands of education reformers for more state intervention on behalf of “high-needs” students.

California to explain but not change school improvement plan federal officials criticized

By John Fensterwald

Despite significant criticisms last month by the U.S. Department of Education,  California will likely make clarifications but no substantial changes to the state’s plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal law that requires states to improve low-achieving schools.

At its meeting on Thursday, the State Board of Education is expected to adopt wording changes and elaborations while keeping most of the 100-plus page document intact.

Improving outcomes by democratizing education data

By Ryan Smith

Last year, just 40 percent of Los Angeles Unified students met or exceeded expectations in English Language Arts. While no student population is showing levels of achievement we should feel satisfied with, just 34 percent of Latino students met standards compared with 66 percent of their white peers.

We must do more to ultimately close these persistent equity gaps. The good news is, the public may soon have access to more of the data to improve outcomes for all students in the country’s second-largest school district.

Gavin Newsom learning what it’s like to be frontrunner for California governor

By Christopher Cadelago 

Republicans during the town hall event at USC’s Bovard Auditorium argued that the frontrunner in the contest to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown would be unjustly swayed by labor union endorsements and campaign contributions. Support from heavyweight public employee groups like the California Teachers Association cloud his judgment, they contended.

California state budget: Here's why to hold the applause for Brown

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

Five years ago this month, Gov. Jerry Brown announced his support for what was billed as the biggest change in California public education in decades. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula increased funding for districts with disproportionate numbers of English-language learners, foster students and students from impoverished families to help them all have better chances at leading successful lives. The legislation also freed up school districts from having to comply with many state-imposed mandates.

‘Disappointing but not surprising’ — California’s ESSA plan gets some of the harshest feedback yet from Washington

By Mike Szymanski

California’s plan to improve its schools received some of the toughest criticism in the nation from the federal Department of Education, which came as no surprise to parents and education advocates, who will get another chance this week to tell the state how they want their schools improved.

On Tuesday, the state has invited the public to a stakeholder meeting in Sacramento to weigh in on California’s response to the federal feedback, which the state board published Friday. People can also watch and react online.