By Louis Freedberg
California is on the verge of finalizing what leading educators believe is the most ambitious attempt in the nation to use multiple dimensions to measure how well – or poorly – a school or district is doing, rather than focusing primarily on test scores.
“All across the country people are paying attention to what California is doing,” Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, said at a recent California School Boards Association conference.
The deadline for approving the plan is barely two months away, as required by a state law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which reformed both the way schools are funded and how progress will be measured.
The state’s goal has been to come up with a system that will require schools and districts to measure how they are doing on eight “priority areas“ ranging from test scores to less definable measures such as school climate.
Source: As deadline looms, California struggles to finalize new school accountability system | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
Gov. Jerry Brown won’t have key education groups helping him make the case to voters for a bigger and more restrictive state rainy day fund. The most he can count on is that they won’t actively campaign against it.
Organizations representing school district financial officers (California Association of School Business Officials) and school superintendents and principals (Association of California School Administrators) voted during the summer to officially oppose Brown’s Budget Stabilization Account, which will appear on next month’s ballot as Proposition 2. And at a meeting in late September, the board of the California School Boards Association voted not to take a position on the proposition. That decision was actually good news for the governor, since at a press conference in May, association President Josephine Lucey vowed to push her board to fight the proposal.
via Education groups withhold support of rainy day fund | EdSource.
By John Fensterwald
For the first time since the Great Recession, school districts are getting more money this year from the state; some – big beneficiaries of the new Local Control Funding Formula – are getting a lot. And that increase is expected to be larger next year, in one-time and ongoing money, if the Legislative Analyst’s predictions for a rebounding economy are on target.
School finance experts John Gray and Joel Montero, however, injected a cautionary note during a presentation Friday at the California School Boards Association’s annual convention in San Diego.
via Some sober words for school boards amid predictions of plenty | EdSource Today.
By John Fensterwald
A state commission has ruled that the state must reimburse school districts about $1 billion in mandated special education costs dating back 20 years. But like many protracted mandate cases, the victory is largely one of principle. Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to include a small payback in next year’s budget, and the dollars will come from funding within Proposition 98, so it will essentially involve shifting education dollars around.
The unreimbursed expenses are for intervention plans for special education students identified with behavior problems. In the early 1990s the State Board of Education, under orders from the Legislature, prescribed interventions that teachers should incorporate into individual education plans, known as IEPs, according to Paul Golaszewski, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office who has followed the case.
via State ordered to pay back districts $1 billion for 20-year-old mandate – by John Fensterwald.
By Seth Rosenblatt
Both lauded and maligned—and perhaps occasionally violated—the Brown Act has been an integral part of California politics for over half a century. The Ralph M. Brown Act, often referred to as California’s “open meetings law,” was first passed in 1953 to ensure that work of publicly elected bodies was done openly and transparently. It also remains one of the most confusing pieces of legislation, particularly for “amateur” politicians such as school board members, because of its non-obvious provisions and multiple exemptions.
The California School Boards Association’s annual conference has multiple sessions every year devoted to explaining the Brown Act to school board members (and CSBA publishes a 63-page book to explain the law), but even attorneys specializing in the area disagree on the application of some of the law’s provisions, particularly in the modern era.
via Let’s bring the Brown Act into the 21st century – by Seth Rosenblatt.
A California assemblyman is once again trying to curb expulsions and suspensions for what’s known as “willful defiance,” when kids act out or misbehave in class or during school activities.
Advocates who support the assemblyman want to shift the state’s discipline policies away from punitive practices and toward alternative approaches that keep students in school and get to the root of their misbehavior. The advocates were largely successful in the last legislative session, sponsoring five discipline bills that became law.
via EdWatch 2013: Unfinished agenda on school discipline – by Susan Frey.
The award winning Fairfield High School Scarlet Brigade Bagpipe Band performed before a very appreciative audience at the annual California School Boards Association Conference this past Friday Night. Band Director Brian Swetland was presented with a $1,500 donation from the evening’s host, WLC Architects, Inc.
via The award winning Fairfield High School Scarlet Brigade Bagpipe Band performed b….
By Kevin Yamamura
Long before political ads dominated the airwaves and arguments erupted over which Nov. 6 tax initiative best serves schools, Gov. Jerry Brown sought crucial support from county officials in a cramped conference room one block from the Capitol.
County leaders in January had one priority – to ensure the state would continue sending them several billion dollars to assume former state responsibilities such as housing lower-level inmates and watching parolees.
Some wanted to pursue their own initiative without the tax hike because they represent conservative voters or thought the governor’s initiative didn’t stand a chance.
via Funding fight on if Prop. 30 fails.
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson launched a month-long statewide tour today highlighting innovative career technical programs that help prepare students for jobs in the 21st-century economy.
Partnering with California School Boards Association (CSBA) President Jill Wynns along with teachers, parents, administrators, and school employees, Torlakson said the “Strong Schools for a Strong Economy” effort would underscore the link between California’s education system and the future of its economy.
“Despite cuts of more than $20 billion over the last few years, schools across California are doing more than ever to connect students to careers and the modern world of work,” Torlakson said. “The Linked Learning approach and programs like it keep our students more engaged while they are in school, and brighten their prospects for college and a career once they graduate. Schools have made preserving these programs a priority, but I’m deeply concerned that further cuts could see them placed on the chopping block.”
via Strong Schools for a Strong Economy Tour.
By Susan Frey ~ EdSource Extra
A major legislative push is underway to reform California’s laws governing school discipline. A half dozen bills intended to do just that will be heard today in the state Senate and Assembly education committees.
The bills have been introduced against a backdrop of recent research that shows that African American and Latino students are disproportionately suspended or expelled. Some districts have introduced alternative approaches to school discipline and have reduced suspension rates, but these strategies have not been universally adopted. The flurry of bills is an attempt to make such practices part of California law, as well as to clarify aspects of school discipline policies.
In a sign that some reforms might emerge from this legislative session on the issue, two key school organizations are now supporting three of the measures they had previously opposed after the bills’ authors accepted a range of amendments.
via Multiple bills to reform school discipline laws get hearing in Sacramento.
Sacramento — California’s public schools could see as much as a month of classroom time slashed from the calendar if voters reject a plan to raise taxes in November.
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving school districts the option of cutting up to 15 days from the school year if voters reject his proposed income and sales tax initiative. The significantly shortened year would help offset a multibillion-dollar automatic midyear cut that would be implemented upon rejection of the taxes.
via Budget shortfall could mean shorter school year.
The state PTA backs the tax initiative financed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger; the California Teachers Association and the Association of California School Administrators endorsed the governor’s initiative. This week, the California School Boards Association decided to support both.
On Sunday, at the urging of CSBA’s board of directors, school board members in the Delegate Assembly voted 129-79 to encourage their constituents to vote for both tax proposals that will appear on the November ballot. They did so after an hour-and-a-half debate and after defeating, by voice vote, an amendment calling for CSBA to support only Munger’s “Our Children, Our Future” initiative. There was no motion to support only “The Schools and Local Public Protection Act of 2012,” which Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers are sponsoring.
via CSBA: Vote for both tax plans – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.