By Richard Bammer
For Vanden High School’s award-winning robotics team, the RoboVikes, the road to the world championship competition in St. Louis must be paved with good performances at regional contests, such as the one that begins today at Grand Terrace High near San Bernadino.
But the 21 students who drove in cramped vans for hours on Thursday are an experienced lot. The 14-year-old club, regarded as the patriarch to other teams countywide, has logged wins at several regional competitions in years past and attended the annual St. Louis championship several times.
via Vanden High RoboVikes head south for competition – The Reporter.
SACRAMENTO—School districts will soon receive about $38 million from the state in the second round of planning funds from voter-approved Proposition 39, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
Proposition 39 will direct up to $2.5 billion in new revenues over five years to fund projects by California’s local educational agencies (LEAs), including school districts, charter schools, county offices of education, and community colleges. Future years’ funding will go toward the projects themselves, and first-year awards that were not used for planning can also go toward projects.
“The funding voters provided with Prop 39 will go a long way toward supporting our schools as they create stronger learning environments for our students,” Torlakson said.
via $38 Million Released for Planning Projects – Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education).
By Ryan McCarthy
Out-of-state travel costing $14,750 – including trips by seven teachers, the principal and a secretary from Dan O. Root Elementary School to Seattle for a conference at the Tulalip Resort Casino – won approval Thursday without comment by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Steve Patton, a teacher at David Weir Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, later said during public comment that he’d just returned from San Diego for what critics call a junket and that his teaching has been changed because of what he learned at the conference.
via Fairfield-Suisun board OKs latest travel request Daily Republic.
By Ryan McCarthy
Michelle Labelle-Fisch, honored Thursday as Teacher of the Year for the Fairfield-Suisun School District, spoke about starting as a 10-year-old in the school district during an era when field trips didn’t require permission slips.
“We just did a lot of hands-on learning,” the K.I. Jones Elementary School teacher recalled.
“Common Core is really going to allow us to be more hands on,” Labelle-Fisch said of new school standards that she sees as meaning children can learn as she once did.
via Fairfield-Suisun district names Teacher of the Year Daily Republic.
By Ryan McCarthy
A new policy for school board members that would not allow them to access email, Twitter, Facebook or any other electronic messages during Fairfield-Suisun School District board meetings won approval Thursday.
The school board passed the protocols after Trustee Pat Shamansky said the measures “address basic, common-sense use of new technology.”
Suisun City resident George Guynn Jr., a regular critic of the school district, called the policy a no-brainer and said he’s glad Superintendent Kris Corey supports the proposal.
via School board approves no text, cell use policy Daily Republic.
By Richard Bammer
The benefits of class-size reduction in California public schools are manifold, and one of them is the teacher business.
Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, K-3 classes must reach a student-teacher ratio of 24 to 1 by 2021, prompting the state’s school districts to hire more instructors.
As many Solano districts have done in recent months, Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, likely will approve a class-size reduction program for TK-3 classes across 16 elementary campuses in the county’s largest school district.
via Schools plan for class-size reduction – The Reporter.
SACRAMENTO—Far from being lost time, the hours after school and during summer can be opportunities for students to build on what they learn in the classroom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said today as he released a new set of standards that define expectations for California’s high-quality expanded learning programs.
Expanded learning refers to summer, intersession, and before and after school programs. Research on expanded learning programs shows a positive effect on student attendance at school, reduced high school dropout rates, reduced juvenile crime, and increased academic success for students. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Torlakson created an After School Division at the California Department of Education charged with improving and expanding these learning opportunities for students.
via New After School Standards – Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education).
By Ryan McCarthy
Enrollment in the Fairfield-Suisun School District is projected to remain relatively stable over the next six years, according to a demographics study that goes before trustees Thursday.
The number of students in the 2019-20 school year would total 21,377 – a 0.75 percent decrease that represents the loss of 161 students, according to SchoolWorks, Inc. of Carmichael.
Projections are based on continued development of 1,222 housing units over the next six years. An increase or decrease in building rates would require modifying the timeline.
via Fairfield-Suisun schools see stable enrollment Daily Republic.
By Sarah Rohrs
Soon after graduating from high school, Marchon King of Vallejo decided to put his love of cars to use. In mapping out a course for himself, he became among the first to enroll in Solano Community College’s new automotive technician program.
“I like cars and I chose to try to work on them,” said the 18-year-old who wants a career as a mechanic.
Still in its beginning phases, Solano College’s automotive program has driven the extra mile by setting up shop inside an old Ford dealership at Georgia Street and Solano Avenue in Vallejo.
via Solano College giving students keys to future with new Vallejo auto center – Vallejo Times Herald.
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the designation of 24 new Model Continuation High Schools. These schools are being recognized for their exemplary programs that provide at-risk students the environment they need to flourish.
“Continuation high schools serve as an alternative highway for struggling students to complete their high school education and continue on the road to higher learning or out into the workforce,” Torlakson said.
Continuation high schools offer students aged 16 years or older an alternative high school diploma program. While most students who attend continuation high schools do so because they are behind in high school credits, others may be in need of a flexible school schedule because they have jobs outside of school, family needs, or other circumstances.
via Model Continuation High Schools for 2014 – Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education).
By Ryan McCarthy
Kris Corey, superintendent of the Fairfield-Suisun School District, plans to attend the National Security Forum on May 6-8 at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
A total of 110 civilians are invited each year to participate in the forum and talk with senior military and civilian leaders, Corey’s report to school district trustees states. They’ll take up Corey’s out-of-state travel at their Thursday meeting.
via Superintendent plans to attend National Security Forum Daily Republic.
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Sophia White, a fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary School, is determined to not let stage fright get the best of her at the school’s Black History month show.
Sophia has a solo song in the performance, “Go Down Moses.”
“I sang in four choirs before, but I just stayed in the back, hiding,” she said.
The spotlight will be on Sophia during the three free performances – 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. Thursday. The public is invited.
via Teachers prep for ambitious Black History Month program Daily Republic.
by Donna Beth Weilenman
Attention music teachers: Grants available February 25, 2014
Music teachers in Solano County’s public and private schools are being invited to apply to the Solano Community Foundation for grants of up to $1,000 to support music programs and projects in classes from kindergarten to 12th grade, said Stephanie Wolf, chief executive officer of the foundation.
Grants are for the 2014-15 academic year, Wolf said, and can be used to buy musical instruments, sheet music, uniforms and accessories and expenses that are connected directly to music practice and performance.
Donald and Rose Marie Wong of Vacaville established the Wong Endowment Fund at Solano Community Foundation, specifically to underwrite the grants, Wolf said.
via Attention music teachers: Grants available.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
A lot of kids have that teacher, that one person who seems to give sense to the world outside the classroom.For Joe Jones, it was John Bowen.
“My goal was to teach U.S. History at Solano Middle (School) in Room 22 and coach the basketball team,” said Jones, inspired by Bowen not only to pursue education, but to teach in his very classroom.
Jones reached that goal more than four decades ago. On March 7, the longtime Vallejo educator will loosen his tie, hang up his suit and retire on his 63rd birthday.
via Vallejo educator, Joe Jones readies for retirement – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Richard Bammer
New computerized tests in California’s public schools are on the way with the soon-to-be-launched Smarter Balanced field tests across every school district.
In trial runs only for the time being, the testing begins March 18 and continues to June 6. By the end, more than 3 million students, in grades three through eight and 11, county offices of education, and charter schools — such as Buckingham High and the ACE elementary program in Vacaville and Dixon Montessori in Dixon — will have had a chance to try the new system.
No student, school, or district scores will be produced from this year’s field test because its purpose is to “test the test” — to determine how well the test questions and technology work, state officials said in a press release. The tests for which scores will count begin in spring 2015 and will require students, as early as second grade, to be familiar with a computer keyboard in order to complete the test.
via Some Solano students soon to start taking all-computerized state tests – The Reporter.
SACRAMENTO—Schools have until March 1 to review and update comprehensive school safety plans that include policies for dealing with issues ranging from bullying to disaster preparedness, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said today.
“School climate has a real and lasting effect on a students ability to learn,” Torlakson said. “Nothing is more important than our students safety, and preparation is one of the first and most important steps a school can take in creating a more positive school climate.”
California Education Code Section 32286 requires each school site to review and update its school safety plan by March 1 of each year. These plans must have policies that deal with crime, safety, child abuse reporting procedures, disaster preparedness, emergency shelters, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, hate crimes, toxic substances, and more.
via School Safety Plan Deadline Nears – Year 2014 CA Dept of Education.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The past might have been the theme during Saturday’s Black History Month celebration at Vallejo High School, but present struggles and future hopes were very much on the minds of the presenters.
“Because of our skin color, we’re not expected to make it or do anything with our lives,” lamented Madison Washington, a senior and president of the Black Student Union on campus.
This is the second year the club has joined with event organizer Askari Sowonde to put together a Black History Month program, highlighting local talent and remembering the travails of the African diaspora from slavery to Trayvon Martin.
via Black struggles, triumphs on display at Vallejo High School – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Ryan McCarthy
A university degree by age 20 can be among the benefits of the Early College High School Program of the Fairfield-Suisun School District and Solano College, people who attended a meeting were told.
The program attracted hundreds of parents and students to information nights in February at the Rodriguez High School Library and the Fairfield-Suisun School District offices.
Officials with Rodriguez High, the school district and Solano College took questions that ranged from academic workloads to how high school students can continue to participate in sports when attending the community college.
via Program allows for university degree by 20 Daily Republic.
By Evie Blad
This is a cross-post from Inside School Research.
A research review has found that a reprimand from a teacher or a gesture of friendship from a fellow student can go a long way toward protecting victims from the harmful impacts of bullying. But in order to truly create a safe environment for all students, schools need to make more sweeping changes such as creating and enforcing anti-bullying policies that also address cyberharassment. Additionally, certain school characteristics—such as racial homogeneity, stand-alone middle schools, and academic tracking—are associated with higher rates of bullying.
These are just some of the findings and implications of a narrative research synthesis of more than 140 studies of bullying. The synthesis, authored by University of California Los Angeles professors Jaana Juvonen and Sandra Graham, appears in the current issue of the Annual Review of Psychology, a peer-refereed journal. The synthesis defines bullying as “targeted intimidation or humiliation,” typically by someone who is stronger or more popular than the victim. In other words, bullying does not need to be physical. In fact, physical bullying decreases with age to the point that, in high school, boys (who engage in more physical bullying throughout childhood) are just as likely as girls to turn to relational bullying such as ostracism or rumor mongering.
via Students See Less Risk of Bullying in Racially Diverse Schools, Study Finds – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
by Katrina Schwartz
For schools looking to spend limited dollars allocated for technology in smart and efficient ways, lessons learned over years of making tough decisions can be helpful.
Mark Samberg, who has worked in education for 13 years, first as a K-12 tech director and later as a district level technology director, has some sage advice. Samberg is a research associate for the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, a center at North Carolina State University dedicated to helping figure out what tech solutions work in classrooms and to sharing what its researchers learn with educators. “Schools are making the best decisions they can given the information they have,” Samberg said. “It’s very difficult to stay on top of what’s new and cutting edge when you’ve got a billion other things going on.”
Samberg offers some advice, both big-picture philosophies and detailed strategies, on how to move forward with a technology plan.
via For Cash-Strapped Schools, Smart Ways to Spend Limited Tech Dollars | MindShift.