By Susan C. Schena
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program, including two from Benicia.
The local students:
BENICIA H. S.
- Chou, Brian
- Chou, Michael
These high school seniors are competing for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.
Source: 2 Benicia Students Make List of National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists
By NPR Staff
You’re at a cafeteria, you’ve got your lunch … and then you just don’t know where to sit. You don’t want to sit alone, but you also don’t know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She’s an 11th-grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.
Hampton recently spoke about the app with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.
Source: Teen Creates App So Bullied Kids Never Have To Eat Alone : The Salt : NPR
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today the appointment of Donna Wyatt as the new Career and College Transition Division Director at the California Department of Education (CDE). She began her assignment September 6.
“Donna has devoted her professional career to helping students identify their passions and professional callings and providing those students the skills and direction needed to succeed,” Torlakson said. “She will be a tremendous resource for all of our schools. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her join us in this important role.”
A long-time educator, Wyatt has more than 25 years of experience teaching, developing, and administering Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Since July 2011, she has worked as the manager of Curriculum and Instruction Career Technical Education (CTE) for the Oakland Unified School District’s Linked Learning office, working with teachers to create CTE curriculum and build out career pathway courses that help connect students with internships and mentorships in a wide variety of fields such as engineering, manufacturing, and media arts.
Source: New Career & College Transition Division Director – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
American public high schools need to be “more individualized” and “relevant” to help students boost and enhance their academic or career-interest strengths, said Fairfield-Suisun Unified Superintendent Kris Corey.
Just returned from the White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools, she added, “They have to tap into student interests and strengths, building on strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses.”
The Vacaville resident, who oversees that largest school district in Solano County, cited Yale University research and comments from students featured in a PBS documentary, “School of the Future,” a NOVA science program that aired Wednesday.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun USD supe: U.S. high schools need to be ‘more individualized’ and ‘relevant’ – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be considering the appointment of members to the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee at tonight’s meeting.
Per the Measure S General Obligation Bonds, which were approved by voters in 2014 to provide funding for special projects at all the district schools, it is required for Benicia Unified School District to have a Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, which is comprised of seven members who meet four times a year to go over quarterly bond expenditure reports. The seven members consist of a business community representative, a senior’s organization representative, a taxpayer’s association representative, a parent or guardian of a BUSD student, a parent-teacher organization or school site council representative who is also a parent of a BUSD student and two community-at large representatives.
Source: School board to consider new Bond Oversight Committee members at tonight’s meeting
By Ryan McCarthy
Along Hilborn Road – next to the now-closed Hungry Hunter restaurant and across from the Fairfield-Suisun School District offices – the Police Department’s new robot rolled along the pavement Wednesday in front of a commercial building.
Across the street, a sniper and an observer were on the roof of another office.
Mobile command centers of the Fairfield Police Department were lined up.
It was the Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team and Crisis Negotiation Team conducting training scenarios.
Source: Fairfield SWAT trains along Hilborn Road
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, will hear an update on the district’s Career Technical Education program.
Mark Frazier, the district’s chief academic officer, and several high school principals, including Mike Sullivan of Country, Mike Boles of Buckingham Charter, Ed Santopadre of Vacaville, and Adam Rich of Will C. Wood, will speak to the seven-member governing board about a variety of topics. They range from career pathways, pathways being considered, and the CTE Incentive Grant, among other things.
Career Technical Education is a program that mixes traditional academic subjects and knowledge with technical and job-related know-how, giving students a way to succeed in college or in a post-high school career.
The speakers will tell trustees about collaboration with area businesses and industries, community organizations, Solano Community College, and the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.
Source: Career tech ed on VUSD agenda tonight – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Dixon Unified leaders face a relatively light agenda when they meet tonight in Dixon.
Superintendent Brian Dolan will provide an update on Measure Q, a $30.4 million bond on the November general election ballot.
If passed by voters it will provide money to upgrade the district’s aging schools, including Old Dixon High, built in 1940, and Anderson Elementary, built in 1949.
The five-member governing board also will hear information about bylaws that cover trustee vacancies. Three trustee seats — those now held by Guy Garcia, Joe Di Paola and Melissa Maseda — are up for election on Nov. 8.
Source: Dixon Unified leaders to hear another update on Measure Q – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
In a wide-ranging review of recent state standards test results, a Travis Unified official noted it was unfair to compare the Fairfield district’s comparatively laudable scores with numbers from other districts with higher percentages of English learners, poor students and foster youth.
During the district’s once-monthly governing board meeting Tuesday, Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for educational services, noted Travis’s demographic count — 2,900 students tested in grades three to eight and 11 — included 32 percent of “unduplicated” students, whereas neighboring Vacaville Unified’s percentage of English learners, poor students and foster youth who were tested was greater than 40 percent.
She appeared to suggest such differences may affect test scores, as can parent education level, including whether or not a father or mother, or both, graduated from college or earned a post-graduate degree.
Source: Unfair to compare district test scores to other district’s – The Reporter
By Ryan McCarthy
Motivational speaker Gary Zelesky has appeared – and Charlie Appelstein, author of “No Such Thing as a Bad Kid,” will speak Oct. 1 at a daylong event – part of professional development offered by the Fairfield-Suisun School District for teachers and administrators.
Marie Williams, director of curriculum and assessment for the school district, said the Sacramento County-based Zelesky had school administrators laughing and crying.
“That was a great offering,” Williams told school board members at their Sept. 8 meeting.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District earns praise for professional development
By Andrew Ujifusa
The House of Representatives voted to approve a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act on Tuesday, after the House education committee unanimously backed the bill earlier this year.
The Perkins Act has not been reauthorized since 2006, but the proposed reauthorization, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, makes several notable changes to existing law. Among them are:
- There’s a new definition of which students can be classified as “concentrators” in career and technical education. The bill defines a concentrator as a secondary student who has “completed three or more career and technical education courses, or completed at least two courses in [a] single career and technical education program or program of study.”
- States would be able to withhold a greater share of their federal CTE funding under Perkins for their own competitive grants or formulas.
- A new grant program, overseen by the education secretary, would award money to programs that align CTE with states’ workforce needs.
- Schools are supposed to get less paperwork dumped on them when it comes to CTE.
Source: Bill to Reauthorize Career and Technical Education Law Passed by U.S. House – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Jasmine Weis
This past week, I sat down with recently crowned district teacher of the year, Kim Thompson, to hear what it really takes to win the award. To my surprise, there was much more involved in the procedure than just superb teaching methods and a school nomination. The Benicia High School English teacher divulged to me a complex process that goes into the prestigious title, one that I found strikingly similar to my experience with college applications.
Once a teacher from each school is chosen, candidates must complete a litany of paperwork, including a professional bio, resume, and three letters of recommendation. Several essays are also part of the submission, with topics ranging from teaching philosophy to school-community involvement and even education trends and issues. Once completed, the lengthy applications are reviewed by a committee of former district and county teachers of the year, who then select a winner.
Source: BHS English teacher named as district Teacher of the Year – Benicia Herald
By Kimberly K. Fu
In an age where “Who do you think you are?” is a popular TV show and “Black Lives Matter” is a nationwide movement, a Vacaville High School student is posing a curriculum that delves into cultural identity.
Golden Pryor Jr., 16, said the idea was floated after he began digesting the increasing racial tensions presented by the mainstream media and following talks with his teen friends.
“I asked my friend if he knew who Nat Turner was and he didn’t,” Golden said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Turner was a slave who headed a rebellion back in 1800s Virginia.
History classes in school, Golden said, don’t go deep enough into cultural studies and often don’t tell the true, whole story of world cultures. Which shortchanges students in the long run, he said.
Source: Cultural studies class posed for Vacaville High School – The Reporter
By Corwin Mollett
The goal was to get universal secondary education by 2030, but a report by UNESCO, the UN’s education, sciences, and cultural agency, shows that universal upper secondary education likely won’t happen until 2084.
James Richards, writing for Public Finance International, notes that poor countries are most affected. While India is poised to meet the goals by 2085 countries like Niger and Rwanda aren’t on track to meet them until 2100.
Irina Bokova, Director-General for UNESCO, said “A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet.”
The report published by UNESCO shows just how important meeting these education goals is — but universal education is an expensive task, writes Vikas Pota for the Telegraph. The goal is for developing world governments to devote four percent of their GDP to education:
Economist Jeffrey Sachs says, “This report should set off alarm bells around the world and lead to a historic scale-up of actions to achieve (this goal).”
Source: UNESCO: Global Education Goals Won’t Be Met Until 2085
As required by state law, the State Board of Education today approved key elements of a new accountability system that evaluates schools and districts in 10 areas critical to student performance, including graduation rates, readiness for college and careers, test scores, and progress of English learners.
The system reinforces California’s national leadership in developing an accountability system designed to help all schools continuously improve.
“Today the State Board has taken a big step toward improving our accountability system, as required under the new school funding formula approved by the Governor and the Legislature. This accountability design is unique and has never been used before in the United States,” said California State Board of Education President Michael Kirst. “Parents, educators, and the public will soon be able to look at a variety of areas to tell how their school is doing, where it may be strong, where it may be weak, and where it may need help.”
Source: New Groundbreaking School Accountability System – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 50 schools received grants for the 2016–17 school year to make changes in their cafeterias to encourage students to select and enjoy nutritious foods. The grants come from the Team Nutrition Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California Program.
The program is designed to help schools makeover their lunchrooms and food menus by providing funds for a variety of strategic changes, including creating visually interesting signs, adding innovative descriptions of menu items, and placing fruit at the checkout register. Under the grant program, districts receive nearly $14,000 to distribute to two schools.
In addition to the grant money, district winners will receive additional support from the Smarter Lunchroom Movement of California Collaborative led by the California Department of Education (CDE), the Dairy Council, and the University of California Fresh Nutrition Education Program. Students will also receive nutrition education to reinforce the lunchroom makeover messaging.
There won’t be any Friday night lights when Fairfield’s high school football teams face off for intradistrict games this season, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District announced.
Now all three matchups are rescheduled for Saturdays, with a much earlier start time.
The school district’s decision to move the games stems from an incident Aug. 26, in which several gunshots were fired in the Fairfield High School parking lot following a football scrimmage between Fairfield High School and Christian Brothers High School. According to the Fairfield Police Department, the shots were fired just before 9 p.m., when most spectators and participants had already left the stadium. Witnesses told police one vehicle had collided with another, either before, or immediately following the shooting, with callers adding that an occupant in a dark colored four-door vehicle was shooting at another unknown vehicle before both fled the scene.
source: Shooting forces Fairfield’s prep football teams to switch game times – The Reporter
By Dom Pruett
For many Californians, a severe earthquake isn’t just a concern, but simply a matter of when.
And in the case of such a disaster, proper planning could prove to be the difference between life and death.
Thursday, at Solano Comunity College’s main campus, Solano County Health and Services employees conducted a simulation of a massive Bay Area earthquake when they executed a Commodity Point of Distribution (CPOD) exercise.
The simulation entailed Solano County Health and Services closing off a portion of the campus’ parking lot, where they distributed cases of water to the hundreds of students and faculty who passed through the area.
Source: Major earthquake drill conducted at Solano College
By Ryan McCarthy
No committee of trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District will consider project labor agreements, the school board decided Thursday, agreeing to instead hold sessions with all seven trustees to hear about such pacts for the $249 million Measure J school bond.
“This is a very, very important decision,” Trustee Pat Shamansky said. “Why would we not want all board members to hear all the information at the same time?”
Source: All 7 trustees will ponder labor pacts for $249M Fairfield-Suisun school bond
By Ryan McCarthy
The school resource deputy program, along with correctional officers donating school supplies to students, spurred a thank you Thursday to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office from the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
Sheriff Tom Ferrara and six deputies were at the school board meeting when the district recognized the Sheriff’s Office for its support of staff and students.
Two schools, Suisun Valley and Tolenas elementary, are in unincorporated areas within the Fairfield-Suisun School District. Officers developed ideas to assist the schools, Ferrara told trustees.
Source: A thank you, from Fairfield-Suisun School District to Sheriff’s Office