By Annabelle Gardner
On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1299, “Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services for Foster Youth,” into law. This represents a significant turning point in the delivery of mental health services to foster youth in California: “out-of-county” will no longer mean “out-of-luck.” The passage of AB 1299 also demonstrates what’s possible when advocates, providers, administrators, and legislators collaborate to break down barriers to care for children and youth.
The “out-of-county” problem has plagued the children’s mental health system in California for nearly two decades–leaving as many as 13,000 of the state’s most vulnerable youth without equal access to the mental health care they need. AB 1299 eliminates a key barrier to mental health care for these youth: the law shifts responsibility for providing or arranging for specialty mental health services under Medi-Cal from the county where a foster youth entered care to the county where the child resides. The law also ensures that Medi-Cal funding will follow the child so that any net change in costs to each county will be reimbursed through the regular Realignment process. Finally, the law allows for exceptions to the transfer of responsibility in order to assure continuity of care or improve child welfare outcomes.
Source: Governor Signs AB 1299: “Out-of-County” Will No Longer Mean “Out-of-Luck” for Foster Youth with Mental Health Needs – New America Media
By Katrina Schwartz
As computers become a common part of daily life for most adults and children, the debate about whether handwriting should be taught in school has heated up. Some claim it will be more important for students to learn keyboarding than writing with pen and paper given the ubiquity of digital communication. But there’s a lot of strong research showing that learning to write by hand aids cognition. Linking motor skills and the sense of touch to writing helps the brain recognize letters, an important part of learning to read. But while handwriting is supported by research, as well as the link between writing by hand and memory, it is far less obvious that students must learn cursive in order to get those cognitive benefits.
Source: Why Are We So Obsessed With Teaching Kids Cursive Handwriting? | MindShift | KQED News
The late Ernest Kimme would want each of us to give what we can, $1 to $10 to $100 or more, something, to a fundraiser that directly benefits classroom teachers and their students.
But today is the last day this year to donate to one of his education-oriented legacies, The Kimme Challenge.
Any dollar amount donated up to $10,000 to the nonprofit Vacaville Public Education Foundation will be matched dollar for dollar, part of an annual effort to support public education in Vacaville.
Kimme — a longtime classroom teacher, civic leader, Reporter columnist and philanthropist — started the challenge 13 years ago. He died Aug. 12, 2015, at age 60, of complications from radiation treatment.
Challenge leaders at the foundation said the tax-deductible donations will be doubled by an anonymous donor, then issued this year as grants to Vacaville Unified teachers and students.
Source: Last day to donate to Kimme Challenge – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
The legalization of marijuana for responsible recreational use has been a hot-button issue in recent years, and the push has only grown. Colorado and Washington state have legalized the plant, and a marijuana legalization initiative— Proposition 64— is on the ballot in California for the general election.
The debate over the drug’s effect on revenue versus its effect on health remains fierce. No matter how one feels about the legalization of marijuana, the Benicia Police Department and Benicia Unified School District beleive it is important to consider the impacts, especially as they pertain to the youth. To help provide some insight, the Benicia Youth Action Coalition and Benicia High School will be hosting a forum titled “Weeding Out the Facts.”
Although Prop 64 explicitly states that recreational cannabis will only be legal for adults 21 and older, the use of marijuana among teens remains an issue. According to the most recent Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, 34 percent of surveyed U.S. high school seniors admitted to doing marijuana in the past year.
Source: Teen marijuana use to be discussed at Benicia High forum
By Jane Meredith Adams
A Silicon Valley educational technology company and researchers from Harvard have teamed up to launch a new series of animated videos next month about the importance of empathy, intended for teachers to use in building students’ social and emotional skills.
Developed by Class Dojo’s Big Ideas program and researchers at the Making Caring Common project at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, the series of three short videos, called “Empathy,” are the latest manifestation of a push to move promising ideas about social and emotional skill-building more quickly from research into classroom practice.
The Empathy videos star Mojo, a friendly green animated monster, who became something of an internet star earlier this year in a series of online videos called “Growth Mindset,” created by Class Dojo and researchers at the Stanford-based organization PERTS, or the Project for Education Research that Scales.
Source: Animated videos help teachers build sense of empathy in students | EdSource
By Times Herald Staff
Community members interested in learning about the health effects of marijuana use can gather at Benicia High School for an educational forum held by the Benicia Police Department.
The forum, “Marijuana: Weeding out the facts, protecting our youth,” is free to attend and will be held from 6:30 until 8:30 on Oct. 6 at the Benicia High School Performing Arts Building.
During the discussion, attendees will review topics such as the potency differential of today’s marijuana compared to the past, health risks associated with consuming the plant and the negative impact that marijuana legalization has on youth.
The event is presented through a partnership between Benicia Police Department Youth Action Coalition and the Benicia school system, and is supported by the Solano County Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Prevention Collaborative.
Source: Benicia High School to host educational marijuana forum
By Mayrene Bates
It’s been said that Americans revere the Constitution of the United States, but studies show that most of us know little about it. And if you missed it, last week was Constitution Week and Sept. 17 was Citizenship Day.
During this year’s Republican and Democratic conventions, there was a lot of back and forth about who had read the Constitution and who had not read it. I admit it’s not my go-to bedtime reading, but I do have two small, very portable booklets that I read from time to time. One is “The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States,” published by the Cato Institute. The other is “The Constitution of the United States,” published by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Source: Never too late to learn about the Constitution
By Richard Bammer
Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this week signed a law that requires schools that serve students from grades seven to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies beginning next year.
The bill, Assembly Bill 2246, by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop and maintain a model suicide-prevention policy.
“With this change, we can better identify students in need, get them help, and keep them safe,” Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release issued Tuesday. “One of my top priorities is serving the needs of the whole child, including their mental health needs. This bill is a big step forward in our ongoing efforts to help our students.”
Source: Gov. Brown signs student suicide prevention bill
By Renee Schiavone
More than two dozen private and public schools from across California have been named among 2016’s National Blue Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday.
In total, 33 institutions from the state were selected for the honor this year. Nationwide, 329 public and private elementary, middle and high schools were selected based on overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps, the Department of Education said.
Of the 329 schools selected, 279 are public and 50 are private. In California, four of the 33 winners are private schools.
Source: 33 California Schools Selected As National Blue Ribbon Winners
By Kristin DeCarr
A new study performed by researchers at Syracuse and New York Universities takes a closer look at bullying within the school system, finding that students at the top of a grade span, more commonly referred to as “top dogs,” have a better experience than those on the bottom.
The report, “Do Top Dogs Rule in Middle School? Evidence on Bullying, Safety, and Belonging,” found that schools with larger grade spans typically have less instances of bullying. The authors state that as students move through grade levels, they take on more of a leadership role and are less likely to be bullied by other students within the school.
After studying reports from more than 90,000 students in over 500 city schools broken up into grade ranges of K-8, K-6, 6-8, 5-8, and 6-12, results were found matching those from a 2011 study performed by some of the same lead researchers, which found traditional elementary and middle school age ranges were worse for student test scores.
Source: Bullying Less Common In Schools With Larger Grade Spans
By Richard Bammer
Four out of six Solano County unified school districts, including Vacaville and Dixon, rank among the lowest-funded in California, a county educator told Vacaville Unified trustees.
During a special governing board meeting and workshop last week, Tommy Welch, an associate superintendent for administrative services and operations at the Solano County Office of Education in Fairfield, noting per-pupil funding revenues, said that out of 341 districts, Dixon was 341, Vacaville 326, Fairfield-Suisun 318, Benicia 306.
Travis Unified, which has two elementary schools in Vacaville, did not even make the median number, 170. It ranked 265.
Source: Several Solano school districts rank among lowest-funded in California
By Daily Republic Staff
WorldStrides OnStage programs has invited the Vanden High School cheer team to perform at the Holiday Bowl in late December.
The team will join dance, cheer, and drill teams from across the country in the halftime show finale.
Christina Hewett directs the cheer team. She will take four students to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego where they will rehearse with nationally known choreographers.
Source: Vanden High cheer team bound for Holiday Bowl
By Alyson Klein
The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday released a blueprint to help states and districts make the most of out of more than $2 billion in federal money for teacher support, preparation, training, and more.
The new federal guidance also walks states and districts through changes to this pot of money—known as Title II—under the brand new Every Student Succeeds Act. (More on the changes to teacher quality in ESSA here.)
The department recommends that states and districts use the funds to make sure that teachers are supported from the time they enter educator training programs, through their early years of teaching, and as they take on leadership positions, including the principalship.
Source: ESSA: Education Department Releases Guidance on Teachers – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Jasmine Weis
Beginning this 2016-2017 school year, Benicia High School introduced a new class, iQuest, under the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department.
The iQuest curriculum provides enrolled high school seniors with an opportunity to explore careers in the community. Students select their career passion and seek out sponsors to provide an internship during the school year, where they will spend a minimum of three hours a week in the field. For the two hours spent in the classroom each week, workshops and guest speakers will be provided to further facilitate seniors’ transition into the career world. College and Career Counselor Lisa Douglass will be also be assisting students with their internship opportunities, as well as narrowing down the colleges best suited for their area of passion.Teaching the iQuest class is CTE epartment chair Annette Fewins.
As Fewins stated, the iQuest program is a great opportunity for students to explore their career passions. She first heard about the class last year through Benicia High’s then-interim principal, Mark Corti, who worked at California High School in San Ramon, where the course originated three years ago. After visiting Cal High to watch the iQuest students’ end of year presentations, Fewins realized this program would be perfect for Benicia High seniors.
Source: Benicia High School’s new iQuest course offers student learning outside the classroom, in the community
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano County Office of Education is one step closer to building a new special education campus at the site of Irene Larsen Educational Center in Vacaville.
“The current plan is to tear down the current buildings and build a new building at the (site),” said Tommy Welch, associate superintendent of administrative services and operations for the county agency.
All the special education classrooms will be placed in a single building with one entry point for added security, Welch said. The plans will be submitted to the Division of the State Architect for review, after which a pre-bid budget for the project will be established.
Source: Law helps with Solano special education center project
By Susan Hiland
Children’s Nurturing Project has for the past 15 years provided services to children and adults in Solano County, but will no longer do so after this week.
The nonprofit organization will shut its doors for good Friday.
“We are no longer able to provide services,” Executive Director Gina Merrell said Monday. “For the last couple of months we have not been able to meet the needs in terms of funding.”
She said that many nonprofits have been struggling with cash flow issues, making it difficult to stay afloat.
Source: Children’s Nurturing Project nonprofit closes doors for good
By Richard Bammer
Like many school districts in Solano County, Fairfield-Suisun Unified continues to hang its electronic “Help Wanted” sign, the listings a sign of the lingering teacher shortage across the state and nation.
The county’s largest school district by far, it has 14 unfilled teaching positions, said Robert Martinez, assistant superintendent for human resources.
The following teaching positions are listed on www.edjoin.org, the district’s online application system, which is accessible through the “Job Opportunities” tab on the district website, www.fsusd.org: three English, two math, one science/physics, three physical education, three special education, one music, and one auto shop.
Starting pay for a fully credentialed teacher is $51,537 for a 184-day work year, noted Martinez.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified hangs out ‘Help Wanted’ sign
By Nick Sestanovich
One of the growing educational trends in recent years has been the implementation of active learning classrooms. These are rooms that provide a 21st century learning environment with laptops, tablets, interactive whiteboards, ergonomic seats and tables and more with the goal of having students become more involved in the educational process in innovative new ways. Such classrooms have been utilized at various institutions at both the K-12 and college level and first arrived at Benicia Unified School District in 2014 with Benicia High School’s Active Learning Space. Now this kind of setting has arrived at Benicia Middle School in what is simply known as the Viking Village.
One would assume the “village” in the title was chosen as a complementary alliteration to the school’s mascot, but Principal Damian Scott assures that it is actually in reference to the funding received through the community and groups like the Benicia Parent Teacher Student Association and Benicia Education Foundation.“It was created by a village,” he said.
Source: Benicia Middle Schoolers get taste of 21st century learning with Viking Village
By Richard Bammer
The possibility of juvenile court youths to receive a high school diploma got a littler easier Thursday, when Gov. Brown signed into law AB 2306 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D Solano.
The new law requires school districts to exempt a student from local high school graduation requirements once the student transfers to the district from a juvenile court school.
“By allowing these students to earn a diploma after meeting statewide graduation requirements, this bill increases their likelihood of continuing their education and getting ready for the workforce while simultaneously decreasing their chances of recidivism,” Frazier said in a press release.
Existing law authorizes local school districts to establish graduation requirements in addition to statewide requirements.
Source: Brown signs Frazier bill allowing juvenile court students to earn diploma
Governor Jerry Brown Thursday signed into law legislation by Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, to protect public agencies from fraud and enable the Solano County Office of Education to modernize and construct new facilities at a local special education center.
Wolk’s Senate Bill 441 responded to a shortcoming in current law that resulted in the City of Dixon falling victim to a scheme attempting to defraud the city of $1.3 million, an intended payment to a legitimate vendor with which the city contracts.
“This measure balances the public’s right to information about the contractors, vendors, and their affiliates hired by public agencies with the need to prevent the misuse of those entities’ identification information to defraud public agencies,” said Wolk.
Investigations of the scam targeting the City of Dixon revealed that the perpetrators developed their scheme using public information available online — including the unique identification number the city used for the vendor.
Source: Governor signs measures benefitting Solano County