By Zak Ringelstein
Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nomination for secretary of education — whose confirmation Democrats are hoping to block on Tuesday — has reignited the war over public schools like nothing America has seen in recent years. That’s not to say there haven’t been debates over the education system, in part fueled by films such as 2010’s Waiting for Superman and The Lottery, both focusing on charter schools, activist foundations such as the Walton Family Fund pouring billions into school choice, and politicians such as Jeb Bush portraying charter schools and vouchers as the answer to our educational inequity.
Source: 3 Ways Public School Teachers Are Uniting To Block Betsy DeVos Confirmation
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged all California public schools to continue “Safe Haven” efforts for students and their families, particularly Muslims and refugees targeted by recent federal actions.
“As a teacher, coach, father, citizen, and leader of California’s public school system, I strongly disagree with President Trump’s recent immigration order and want to make sure that our students and families who are refugees and Muslims feel safe and protected in our schools,” said Torlakson. “California public schools welcome all students regardless of their heritage, religion, ethnicity, background, disability, or sexual orientation.
“Diversity is California’s strength. We do not just welcome diversity. We celebrate it. An ill-conceived presidential executive order is not going to change that.”
Source: Schools Encouraged to Continue Safe Haven Efforts – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be voting on a proposed renovation of Benicia Middle School’s campus at Thursday’s board meeting.
Construction on the current BMS campus was completed in 1976 and was comprised of four buildings and eight portable classrooms. Now the school is looking to modernize its campus by replacing the portables and redesigning the courtyard in an ampitheater-style setting. Funds for the remodel would be provided through Measure S.
Roxanne Egan, the bond director for Measure S, and Lee Pollard of HY Architects will be presenting will be presenting the results of a discussion held at a series of meetings in December regarding the total number of classrooms required for the school’s educational programs and the best location for those classrooms. Egan will be presenting examples of current modern designs at other Bay Area schools.
The project would have four phases. The construction of new modular classrooms would take place in the fall of this year. he campus modernization would be scheduled for the summer of 2018. The redesign of the kitchen, lunch shelter and drama room would be slated for spring 2018 through December of that year. Finally, construction on the lower portables would be done in the summer of 2019. Egan also suggested the area be preserved as a swing space while construction going on. There is also an optional fifth phase regarding resurfacing of the tennis courts which would take place in the summer of 2017.
Source: School board to vote on Benicia Middle School campus renovation – Benicia Herald
By Pat Maio
In less than two months, California will begin giving public school students a pilot version of an online test based on new science standards – one of the first states to do so in the United States.
About 17 states are in various stages of rolling out assessments based on the new Next Generation Science Standards, which emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s. Yet none of those states have progressed as far as California in developing a pilot version based on the standards that California will administer to students in the 5th, 8th and 10th grade.
However, when some districts begin administering the online pilot tests on March 20, California will effectively be in violation of a ruling issued by the U.S. Department of Education two days before President Barack Obama left office. That ruling rejected the state’s request to waive having to administer the outdated paper and pencil California Standards Tests in science, which are based on the old standards introduced in 1998.
Source: California will administer new pilot science test despite U.S. Department of Education ruling | EdSource
By John Glidden
Trustees with the Vallejo City Unified School District will consider designating the district’s schools as “safe haven zones” during a Wednesday meeting in direct response to the recent presidential election.
The draft resolution directs VCUSD Superintendent Ramona Bishop, and/or her designee, to not cooperate with Federal Immigration authorities, except as required by law, and to notify parents of any immigration inquiry about their children which is submitted to the district.
The resolution also gives Bishop authority to “protect the data and identities of any student, family members, or school employee who may be adversely affected by any future policies or executive action that results in the collection of any personally identifiable information,” by the Trump administration.
The proposed resolution requires that immigration officials may not enter without prior written approval from the district superintendent, unless agents present a warrant signed by either a federal or state judge.
Source: Vallejo trustees to mull over “safe haven” resolution – Times Herald
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders will meet this morning in a governing board workshop about the school district’s facilities master plan.
The workshop comes as several major Measure A projects have been completed or are just getting underway, including the Vacaville High parking lot expansion, relocation of the school’s tennis courts and the building of a new 15-classroom building on the north side of the West Monte Vista Avenue campus.
Dan Banowetz, the district’s director of facilities, likely will lead the presentation, which may include an update on the athletics stadium project at Wood High.
Source: Vacaville Unified leaders meet today for a facilities master plan update
By Richard Bammer
After 33 years as a Vacaville Unified teacher, more than five of them as president of the Vacaville Teachers Association, Moira McSweeney is entitled to some self-deprecating humor.
“I’ve had students come back over the years — and some of them are a little older than I would have liked them to be,” she quipped during an interview Thursday in the Educational Services Center, nearly a week after her last day on the job as a longtime second-grade teacher at Cooper Elementary.
“They would remind me of the little things I’ve said that made a difference in their lives,” McSweeney, 57 and a graduate of the University of California, Davis, added, smiling. “I don’t remember what they were.”
Her lighthearted responses were among many to questions during a nearly 45-minute conversation, much of it serious-sounding and reflective as she looked back over a long career filled with lots of changes in the educational landscape of the district, state and nation.
Source: Vacaville Teachers Association president bids classroom, union adieu after long career
By Ryan McCarthy
Increased pension contributions school districts throughout California face spurred a two-word description by Fairfield-Suisun School District officials as they prepare the 2017-18 budget and consider more than $7 million in budget cuts.
“Pretty grim,” is how Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, described the situation.
Judi Honeychurch, president of the board of trustees, at the Thursday school board meeting agreed with the assessment.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun schools face more than $7M in cuts
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Kelly Campbell met her first horse when she was 6. There was no turning back.
She was amazed.
“I remember the horse lowering its head to check me out with curiosity. I swear his head was the size of my whole body. I was in awe of the size, power, how gentle and beautiful he was,” she wrote in an email while on assignment.
She and her older brother, Casey Campbell, spent hours at Ranchotel in Vacaville where they cleaned stalls and did grooming in exchange for time on the horses.
Campbell enrolled in a black-and-white photography class in her sophomore year at Fairfield High School. Her career as an equine photographer was born.
Source: Fairfield High School graduate travels globe photographing horses
By Richard Bammer
Young students who gathered Wednesday for an annual spell-off in Vacaville were seen, by turns, fidgeting, squirming, rolling their eyes and even using their palms and fingers to write out words, silent testimony to the following question: How do you solve a problem like the English language?
In the end, at the 2017 Grace B. Powell Citywide Spelling Bee, only one of 48 elementary students, Orchard sixth-grader Caitlin Peck, and one of 26 middle school students, Vacaville Christian eighth-grader Caitlin Sweany, were remotely able to answer the question through 40 or more rounds each, one word at a time, from any of the several different languages that comprise ever-evolving modern English, a hallmark of one of the world’s most common and sometimes frustrating languages.
Source: After 40 rounds plus, more than c-a-p-a-b-l-e
By Ryan McCarthy
A measure changing boundaries for Oakbrook and Cordelia Hills elementary schools returns Feb. 9 to Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
The matter was up for discussion Thursday.
Children of families in The Ranch development may be assigned to Cordelia Hills Elementary starting next school year – ending the option of parents choosing between Oakbrook and Cordelia Hills elementary schools. Students now enrolled at the schools can continue there.
Source: Boundary change plan for 2 Fairfield-Suisun schools returns Feb. 9
By Ryan McCarthy
Public comment at Fairfield-Suisun School District board meetings will be moved up to allow people to speak earlier in the meeting and avoid long waits while trustees take up other agenda matters.
“It’s going to make for more participation,” Trustee Joan Gaut said of the change.
People who want to comment about matters not on the agenda sometimes had to wait between a half-hour and two hours, Gaut said.
Suisun City resident George Guynn Jr. said the school district once had public comment near the start of the meeting and is happy to see the change.
Source: Public can comment earlier at Fairfield-Suisun School District board sessions
By Ryan McCarthy
A resolution declaring the Fairfield-Suisun School District a “safe haven” and reminding families about laws that protect students from questions about their immigration status won support Thursday from trustees and most public speakers.
“Every student is our student no matter the circumstances. Period,” Trustee Jonathan Richardson said.
“Our job is to provide education,” he said. “We’re not the education police.”
Trustee John Silva recalled being sent to Mexico twice because his parents weren’t documented and had to get papers together for the family’s return.
Source: ‘Safe haven’ resolution for Fairfield, Suisun schools scores support
California’s K-12 education spending per student has increased significantly since 2012-13, but continues to trail the nation as a whole. While not reflective of how much it actually costs to provide California’s students a high-quality education, rankings of state K-12 education spending are often used to assess California’s public investment in its schools. According to the most recent available information,
- In 2015-16, California ranked 41st among all states in spending per K-12 student after adjusting for differences in the cost of living in each state (see table below). California schools spent $10,291 per K-12 student in 2015-16, which is about $1,900 less than the $12,252 per student spent by the nation as a whole. California’s spending per student in 2015-16 was about $2,000 higher than it had been in 2012-13, at which point California ranked 50th in the nation.
- California ranked 37th among all states in K-12 spending as a share of the state economy in 2015-16. California’s K-12 school spending in 2015-16 was 3.29% of state personal income — a measure that reflects the size of the state’s economy — compared to 3.78% in the nation as a whole. In 2012-13, California’s K-12 school spending equaled 3.18% of state personal income — compared to 3.93% in the nation as a whole — and ranked 46th among all states. Gauging school spending as a share of the personal income received by the state’s residents can be useful because it takes into account differences in states’ wealth and thus in their capacity to support K-12 schools.
Source: California’s Support for K-12 Education Is Improving, but Still Lags the Nation – California Budget & Policy Center
By Daily Republic Staff
High school students from Solano, Napa, Sonoma and Yolo counties will compete in the North Bay Academic Decathlon Super Quiz Regional Competition with the goal of qualifying for the state event.
The Solano County Office of Education is hosting the Super Quiz portion of the decathlon starting at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Solano Community College gymnasium.
Among the subjects about which the students’ knowledge will be tested during the decathlon are art, music, language and literature, math, economics, science and social science. Additionally, there are communication tests that require writing an essay, delivering a prepared and an impromptu speech, and an interview.
Source: High school Super Quiz coming to Solano College
By Richard Bammer
Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, will devote perhaps two hours before they consider agenda item 18A, a one-line entry that might be overlooked if not for headlines spawned Wednesday by President Donald Trump: his executive order to build a Mexican border wall and plans to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States and to initiate a temporary halt on all refugees from the rest of the world.
The seven-member governing board will discuss a proposed resolution to declare the district as a “safe haven” for students, and, if approved, will vote on it at a Feb. 9 meeting.
The trustees’ discussion comes two days after Gov. Jerry Brown’s fiery State of the State address, during which — while railing against several controversial Trump proposals — he noted laws passed to expand protections for illegal immigrants.
By Daily Republic Staff
Four employees of the Solano County Office of Education were selected as the 2017-18 certificated and classified educators of the year, Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson announced Wednesday.
“SCOE is very fortunate to have many wonderful classified and certificated employees who provide essential support to our students and schools. I congratulate these four outstanding employees who epitomize the admirable qualities desired in all SCOE personnel,” Estrella-Henderson said in the statement announcing the awards.
Source: Solano County office selects 4 education employees as year’s best
By Ryan McCarthy
Children of families in The Ranch development would be assigned to Cordelia Hills Elementary starting next school year – ending the option of parents choosing between Oakbrook and Cordelia Hills elementary schools, in a recommendation the school board takes up Thursday.
Fairfield-Suisun School District spokeswoman Sheila McCabe said students now enrolled at the schools can continue there.
The recommendation from the Business Services department is part of an information item to review the impact of educational programs on schools. A report to trustees said the change will ease potential future overcrowding at Oakbrook.
Source: Cordelia Hills Elementary proposed as school for The Ranch development
By Alyson Klein
President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order freezing hiring at many federal agencies, with the exception of military and public safety employees. So how might that effect the U.S. Department of Education’s work?
For one thing, it could mean longer hours for some of the department’s career staff and slower responses to department inquiries, said Zollie Stevenson, who served as a career staffer in the department under three presidents, including as the director of student achievement and school accountability programs.
“Existing staff in departments often have more work to do and often have to work longer,” said Stevenson, who is now the acting vice president for academic affairs at Philander Smith College, in Little Rock, Ark. “Sometimes the timeline for response to inquiries and program requests can slow down during hiring freezes in areas with lots of customers.”
Source: What Does Trump’s Hiring Freeze Mean for the Education Department? – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Carolyn Jones,
California’s hundreds of high school career academies can now boost their prestige — and create a greater degree of uniformity — through a voluntary certification program, an education nonprofit announced Tuesday.
The Linked Learning Alliance, which includes teachers, employers, colleges, policy organizations and other groups, announced its new certification program at its annual conference this week in Oakland.
“It’s like taking the Wild West and bringing it into a lane of coherence,” said Alex Taghavian, vice president of the Linked Learning Alliance. “Having clear, set standards is something we need as linked learning expands and more and more districts and schools join in.”
Source: New program aims to create more uniform standards among linked learning academies | EdSource