Bringing Authors Into Your Classroom | Edutopia

By Rita Platt

If you want to be a better writer, you have to read, read, read. If you want to be a better reader, you have to write, write, write. Most teachers understand the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing. The question is, how do we get our students to read and write and then write and read some more?

Virtual author visits are a good start. Thanks to Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, it’s easier than ever to host published authors in your classroom. Last year, my students met with many authors, and each visit inspired them (and me) to read and write with renewed energy and purpose.

Source: Bringing Authors Into Your Classroom | Edutopia

Sound of music at Zunino Stadium – The Reporter

Tom Zunino Stadium at Vacaville High will be alive next month with the sound of music.

With three bands scheduled, a concert to raise money for Vacaville Unified school music departments will be from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 at the stadium, 100 W. Monte Vista Ave.

Admission is $10.

Music will be provided by Vacaville High’s California Roll, Buckingham Charter High’s Beyond Gravity, and Wood High’s The Afterschool Special.

Dress for the weather, bring lawn chairs and umbrellas. Refreshments will be available.

Source: Sound of music at Zunino Stadium

Japan Fest fundraiser returns to Fairfield for fifth year – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

Fairfield’s Sister City Exchange Program is hosting a fundraiser next month with Japanese music, dance, crafts and food for all ages.

The fifth annual Japan Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Fairfield Community Center, 1000 Kentucky St.

Japan Fest is held the same weekend as the Tomato Festival, just three blocks away.

This year’s performers include Ensohza, a Japanese folk dance group, as well as the Wesley Ukulele Band from San Jose.

The Sacramento Kendo Club will give demonstrations of Japanese martial arts on stage.

Source: Japan Fest fundraiser returns to Fairfield for fifth year

Digital Tools and Distraction in School | Edutopia

By Mary Beth Hertz

As computers become less expensive, many schools are opting to bring low-cost machines such as Chromebooks into the classroom. While this has opened the door to exciting new learning opportunities, with these devices—as well as students’ smartphones—come new challenges, including the distraction factor. How do we teach students to integrate technology into their schoolwork and their learning while also making sure that they’re staying focused on the task at hand?

Focus and Multitasking

In “Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus,” Katrina Schwartz refers to studies showing that the ability to focus on a task has been linked to future success. She quotes psychologist Daniel Goleman: “This ability [to focus] is more important than IQ or the socioeconomic status of the family you grew up in for determining career success, financial success, and health.”

Source: Digital Tools and Distraction in School | Edutopia

Betsy DeVos Is a K-12 Advocate. So Why All the Action in Higher Ed? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

When Betsy DeVos was tapped as U.S. Education Secretary, educators and advocates were terrified the longtime voucher fan would try to “privatize” the nation’s schools. But DeVos has now been in office for going on six months, and she’s been way more active on higher education than she has on K-12.

We’re still waiting around for the details of a big, new school choice plan. Meanwhile, DeVos and company have been slowly scaling back, pausing, or moving to overhaul Obama-era student financial aid regulations.

Recently, for instance, the department started gathering information to begin reworking two Obama rules. One, gainful employment, seeks to hold schools accountable for whether or not their graduates are able to find jobs that allow them to repay their student loans. The other, “borrower defense,” deals with how students who have been defrauded by lenders can seek loan forgiveness. (Great explainer from U.S. News here.) Supporters say those regulations were designed to protect borrowers, but detractors say they are overly punitive and unnecessarily hurt schools and lenders.

Source: Betsy DeVos Is a K-12 Advocate. So Why All the Action in Higher Ed? – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Annual backpack drive kicking off in Benicia – Times Herald

By Katy St. Clair

It’s not quite back-to-school time, but it is time to start thinking ahead.

That’s why the Family Resource Center is kicking off its annual backpack drive for students who might need a little extra help.

According to the center, it’s estimated that 150 students here will be unable to afford all the school supplies they need. The drive helps people in the community connect with families who could really use fully-stocked backpacks to get their child off on the right foot.

The center is hoping to donate 60 supply-stocked backpacks this year.

They are coordinating with the school district and the Solano County Office of Education, but folks in town are encouraged to bring in the following — gender neutral backpacks suitable for older students (grades 6 through 12), whimsical backpacks for younger students (grades K through 5), wide-rule or college-ruled paper, loose-leaf. Single subject, perforated spiral-bound notebooks; pocketed folders, No. 2 pencils, regular, colored, or mechanical; pens, markers (teachers prefer washable), crayons, rulers, binders, erasers, pencil sharpeners, blunt-ended scissors, glue sticks, basic calculators, and subject dividers for binders.

Source: Annual backpack drive kicking off in Benicia

School resource officer a possibility for Dixon Unified – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Dixon Unified may soon lose an arguably dubious distinction; the only Solano County school district without a school resource officer.

Dixon Police Chief Robert Thompson on Thursday told district trustees that he had applied for federal funding that would pay for, either in full or part, the creation of the new department job.

“It’s critically important to fund and staff” the position, he said during a school board meeting in the Dixon City Council chamber.

School resource officers typically are responsible for providing security and crime-prevention services in U.S. schools. They may also have other duties, including mentoring, speaking about youth-related issues, and, he said at one point, making “soft contacts” with students and staff.

Thompson, a former FBI employee, said he was concerned about “the negative consequences of not having” a school resource officer in the rural eastern Solano County district with 3,500 students across eight campuses.

Source: School resource officer a possibility for Dixon Unified

Trustees table to Aug. 3 Measure Q Citizens Oversight Committee resolution – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Dixon Unified leaders on Thursday tabled until their next meeting, Aug. 3, a resolution to establish the Measure Q Citizens Oversight Committee, the decision coming after nearly three hours of discussion, by turns rancorous, repetitious and frustrating.

The lengthy discussion on the first new business agenda item came as a surprise to some, given the seemingly routine nature of such matters in other school districts, but committee members, who have already been meeting over the past several weeks, objected to the addition of five pages of bylaws, committee procedures and an excerpt from the California Constitution attached to the three-page resolution.

Source: Trustees table to Aug. 3 Measure Q Citizens Oversight Committee resolution

New Travis district students can register July 31 – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Travis Unified School District will host a registration day for TK-12 students new to the district on July 31 at the Vanden High School library.

Two sessions will be held: 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Vanden is located at 2951 Markeley Lane, in Fairfield.

Prospective students and parents can complete the registration on site and turn in all required documents. Required documents include two proofs of residence, birth certificate, immunization records and school records from the prior year. If applicable, a current 504 Plan or IEP is also required.

Source: New Travis district students can register July 31

What Happens if Schools and Districts Miss New Academic Goals? Maybe Nothing – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

We need to talk about those goals.

The long-term targets states have put forward in the Every Student Succeeds Act have gotten a lot of attention, positive and negative. What’s a goal? Think about things like 75 percent of students scoring proficient in English/language arts in 13 years, or getting a certain share of kids to graduate on time in eight years.

But there’s something else you should know here: In several situations there may not be any consequences for missing these big targets.

Let’s focus on districts first. Under ESSA, if a district falls short of reaching a goal on any particular indicator, nothing has to happen to that district. By contrast, under the No Child Left Behind Act, ESSA’s predecessor, the adequate yearly progress targets applied to both schools and districts.

And what about schools? Nevada plans to use its goals two different ways in school accountability. They want to use them when identifying schools for interventions, and for awarding overall points in school ratings. But there’s nothing forcing states to incorporate goals directly in this sort of way into ratings and other policies impacting individual schools.

Source: What Happens if Schools and Districts Miss New Academic Goals? Maybe Nothing – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Understanding California charter schools: a quick guide | EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

Charter schools are frequently in the news, but it’s not always clear how they compare to traditional public schools. EdSource has compiled the following FAQ to give readers a quick and clear primer on these public schools that are often the subject of heated political debates. Find out how many charters are in California and in the U.S., what the major fault lines are between charter schools and their opponents, and what some of the functions of charters are that make them distinct from traditional public schools.

What are charter schools, who runs them and how are they different from traditional public schools?

Charter schools are public schools that get funding from the state and enjoy flexibilities in hiring, curriculum and management. Unlike traditional public schools that are run by school districts with an elected school board and a superintendent it appoints, most charter schools are run by organizations with their own self-appointed boards.

Source: Understanding California charter schools: a quick guide | EdSource

Bill With More Than $2 Billion in Teacher-Training Cuts Advances in House – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Lawmakers in charge of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget voted Wednesday to advance a funding bill that cuts $2.4 billion from the agency’s budget, with most of that reduction coming through the elimination of a major program focused on teachers.

The GOP-backed bill approved by the House appropriations committee on Wednesday by a 28-22 vote cuts the department’s budget to $66 billion. That’s a less-severe cut than the spending blueprint floated by President Donald Trump in May that includes a $9.2 billion reduction. House Republicans followed the Trump budget’s lead and cut the $2 billion Title II program that covers teacher training, as well as class-size reductions.

“We invest in programs that ensure that all students have access to a quality education,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., the chairman of the House appropriations committee. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

Source: Bill With More Than $2 Billion in Teacher-Training Cuts Advances in House – Politics K-12 – Education Week

VUSD signs 58 new hires, as annual “churn” continues – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The annual churn, or employment changes, including new hires and administrator shuffling, has been well underway in recent weeks and months in Vacaville Unified, which resumes classes Aug. 17.

In an email to The Reporter earlier this week, Janet Dietrich, chief human resources officer, reported 58 new employees: 52 teachers, one speech language pathologist, one school psychologist, one nurse and three counselors.

New hires and employee intradistrict shifts are a routine late-spring and summertime rite among California school districts, and, locally, some job changes have been the subject of meet-and-greet appearances during the last several Vacaville Unified governing board meetings.

At the July 13 meeting, Superintendent Jane Shamieh introduced the district’s newly hired associate superintendent for business services, Jennifer Stahlheber, who replaced Deo Persaud. After about one year on the job, he has returned to Southern California, Dietrich said.

Sample Policy & Administrative Regulation – School Attendance Review Boards (CA Dept of Education)

The State School Attendance Review Board (SARB), an advisory panel to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), has developed a sample policy on attendance supervision that is consistent with state laws that became effective on January 1, 2017.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 2815 in 2016, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy. These changes are designed to help promote a culture of attendance and improve local systems to track student attendance by grade level and subgroup.

The new laws directly relate to the priorities districts must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP). Addressing chronic absence is included as a State Priority in the Pupil Engagement section of the LCAP template.

Source: Sample Policy & Administrative Regulation – School Attendance Review Boards (CA Dept of Education)

State Board of Education approves English Learner Roadmap | EdSource

By Theresa Harrington

To help California’s more than 1.4 million English learners navigate through the public school system, the State Board of Education has approved an “English Learner Roadmap.”

The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly two decades to serve the one in four public school students throughout the state who are classified as English learners. It is expected to help schools in the more than 1,000 districts statewide to meet updated state and federal education requirements and laws.

Approved last week, the Roadmap aims to help English learner students and their parents know what courses, programs and services are available to them. It was created partially in response to the passage of Proposition 58 last year, which eliminated some legal barriers to bilingual education. Prop. 58 paves the way for all students to “receive the highest quality education, master the English language, and access high-quality and innovative language programs,” according to a news release.

Source: State Board of Education approves English Learner Roadmap | EdSource

Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today toured the Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School in the Robla School District to voice his opposition to proposed federal budget cuts that would harm this program and many others in California and the nation.

President Trump has proposed eliminating all funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers run After School, Summer Learning, and other Expanded Learning programs.

Nationally, his proposed cuts would remove $1.2 billion in funding. In California, the proposed cuts would take away $137 million of the total of $730 million spent on Expanded Learning programs, or about 18 percent of the total budget.

“Today we are shining a light on the wonderful Summer Learning and After School programs that engage, teach, and inspire 860,000 students in California each year,” Torlakson said. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could devastate Summer Learning and After School programs. These proposed cuts are short-sighted, counterproductive, and just wrong. As leaders, we should be searching for ways to help our students thrive, rather than blocking proven paths to success.”

Source: Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Social and emotional learning appears to provide benefits that last | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

A new review of studies from around the world found that students who were taught positive social skills at school reported higher levels of those skills months and even years afterward, compared to their peers who were not taught those skills.

The long-term benefits of social and emotional learning appeared regardless of the students’ economic or racial background or the rural, suburban or city location of the school, according to the meta-analysis published this month in the journal Child Development. Social and emotional learning is an organized approach to teaching students personal skills, including how to identify emotions, empathize with others and resolve conflicts.

Source: Social and emotional learning appears to provide benefits that last | EdSource

State board, advocacy groups fundamentally disagree over plan for complying with federal education law | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

After much talk and testimony at a nine-hour meeting, the State Board of Education made modest changes last week to its draft of the state plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Board members are confident the plan will soon be ready to pass along to the federal government for approval. Members of a coalition of two dozen civil rights and student advocacy organizations said the changes will do little to improve a plan that’s still vague and weak.

“After months of feedback and engagement, the current plan still doesn’t address the core issues that we know are absolutely essential to support high-need students,” Samantha Tran, senior director of education programming for the nonprofit Children Now, wrote in an email. “The state seems to be abdicating an essential civil rights role, and it’s disheartening.”

Source: State board, advocacy groups fundamentally disagree over plan for complying with federal education law | EdSource

Cyber safety boot camp at Solano Community College – Times Herald

By Richard Bammer

Third-party programs that may lead to “back door” intrusions. Differences between Windows and Mac operating systems. Good advice about ways to safeguard personal identifier information online. Social media tips.

Those were among the questions and topics aired Monday during the first day of the first-ever Cybersecurity Summer Camp, a weeklong program for Solano-area high schoolers, at Solano Community College in Fairfield.

Some 20 students signed up for the free weeklong program, but only 16, all of them boys, showed up in the morning in Room 503 inside the campus administration building at the Suisun Valley Road campus.

Source: Cyber safety boot camp at Solano Community College

Fairfield-Suisun School District seeks bond panel members – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Residents are sought to serve on the Measure J bond oversight committee that reviews Fairfield-Suisun School District spending of bond funds and issues an annual report on their findings.

The school district seeks a member representing a senior citizen’s group and a member-at-large from the general community.

Meetings are held every other month on the second Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Source: Fairfied-Suisun School District seeks bond panel members