Periodically – albeit, not frequently – it dawns on the Capitol’s politicians that the 6 million kids in California’s public schools aren’t learning as much as they should be, and they vow to do something big about it.
That’s why, for instance, then-Gov. Pete Wilson championed elementary school class size reduction nearly two decades ago. That’s why his successor, Gray Davis, pushed through the Public Schools Accountability Act, which rated districts and schools on academic improvements via testing.
Dan Walters: Does latest school ‘reform’ benefit students — or teachers? – Dan Walters – The Sacramento Bee.
Teacher layoffs shrank to the lowest number since the recession began in 2008, with about 1,300 teachers, librarians, counselors and other public school employees receiving final layoff notifications by the May 15 deadline, according to the California Teachers Association.
The 1,300 notices amounted to less than half of the 3,000 preliminary “pink slip” layoff notifications that school districts sent on March 15, the state deadline to inform teachers they might be laid off. In March 2012, some 20,000 teachers and school employees received preliminary layoff notices and about 8,000 faced final layoff notices, according to the Association, which tracks the numbers. Typically, most of the laid-off personnel are rehired, but the rehiring may not occur until August.
via Teacher layoffs lowest since economic downturn, CTA reports – by Jane Meredith Adams.
By Kathryn Baron
The California Teachers Association is celebrating the 28th annual national Teacher Appreciation Week with a bigger milestone – the 150th anniversary of its founding.
It was May 1863 when then state superintendent of schools John Swett, a passionate advocate for free public education, held a state teachers’ convention and established the California Educational Society with fewer than 100 members, all men. It became the California Teachers Association in 1875. California itself had just become a teenager, marking its 13th year as a state, and the Civil War was two years from ending.
via California Teachers Association turns 150 – by Kathryn Baron.
With unusual speed, the California Teachers Association on Friday endorsed a bill Assemblymember Joan Buchanan introduced three days ago that would quicken the process for dismissing teachers. The teachers association joins Sen. Alex Padilla, who is dropping his own dismissal bill in support of Buchanan’s, thus creating a consensus among opposite sides of one of the most contentious issues last year in the Legislature.
via In meeting of the minds, CTA also backs teacher dismissal bill – by John Fensterwald.
By Susan Frey and John Fensterwald
Districts have issued dramatically fewer preliminary layoff notices to teachers this year, signaling an end to five years of high budgetary anxiety and providing one of the first concrete examples of the immediate benefits of Proposition 30.
Reports are still trickling in, but the number could be as low as 2,600 notices statewide – down 87 percent from the 20,000 “pink slips” issued last year and just a fraction of the 26,000 notices issued in 2010, the peak during the recession, according to the California Teachers Association, which tracks the numbers.
via Dramatic dip in ‘pink slips’ given to teachers – by Susan Frey and John Fensterwald.
Gov. Jerry Brown uttered more than 3,000 words in just under 25 minutes Thursday, telling the Legislature – and 38 million other Californians – that the state is in good shape, getting better every day and can look forward to a bright future.
“Two years ago,” Brown concluded his State of the State speech, “they were writing our obituary. Well, it didn’t happen. California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move. Let’s go out and get it done.”
And what would “it” be?
via Dan Walters: If Jerry Brown wants a legacy, he’ll have to work for it.
When the Legislature reconvened last week and legislative leaders offered glowing accounts of what they had done in 2012 and lofty promises of future feats, no one mentioned Senate Bill 1530 – for good reason.
Its demise in the Assembly Education Committee was one of the year’s tawdrier events.
Prompted by the arrest of a Southern California teacher accused of lewd conduct, the bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, was aimed at making it easier to fire teachers for gross misconduct, such as sexual abuse.
via Dan Walters: Teacher misconduct bill gets another chance in California Legislature.
As the political odds turn against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, political insiders are turning their attention, however reluctantly, to the fallout should, indeed, voters reject the sales and income tax hike on Tuesday.
The measure would deliver $6 billion a year in new revenues and should it fail, Brown and the Legislature have already passed $6 billion in so-called “trigger cuts” that would be imposed, overwhelmingly on K-12 schools.
So that would seem to be that. But it’s not.
via Dan Walters: What to do if Proposition 30 fails?.
At a time when California has cut funding dramatically for K-12 education – and may have to cut more after next week’s election – it makes no sense for school districts to leave millions in federal education dollars on the table.
Yet California school districts have had to struggle to win teachers union support for a new round of Race to the Top competitive grants specifically for school districts – as much as $40 million per district, depending upon size.
This competition – for districts seeking to improve academic performance with personalized learning for students – is well worth pursuing in these tough financial times.
via Editorial: Why is teachers union leaving money on the table?.
Gloria Romero grew up in Barstow, the daughter of a railroad worker, and like many of the desert community’s young, left for the big city – in her case Los Angeles, where she earned advanced degrees, and became a college professor and later a Democratic state legislator.
By happenstance, however, Romero’s most important legislation – empowering parents to take control of failing public schools – is making its first impact in Adelanto, just a few miles from Barstow.
This week, a San Bernardino County judge ordered Adelanto’s school board to stop stalling and grant the charter school petition of parents in the Desert Trails Elementary School.
The decision’s timing was exquisitely ironic.
via Dan Walters: Landmark California school law wins key court ruling.
By Jim Sanders
Months after a Los Angeles judge ruled that California’s largest school district was violating state law by failing to use student test scores in evaluating teachers, lawmakers are scrambling to rewrite the rules.
The battle royal pits teachers against school administrators and school boards in fierce lobbying rocking the Capitol in the final days of a legislative session set to adjourn for the year Friday.
The hottest issue is a push to grant teachers the right to collectively bargain all aspects of any evaluation system.
via Battle under way over California teacher evaluations.
By Dean Vogel
As professionals, educators practice their vocation with seriousness and dedication with the single purpose of helping students. The California Teachers Association believes it is a primary part of our mission to improve the conditions of teaching and learning and to advance the cause of free, universal, and quality public education.
CTA supports pending legislation, AB 5 by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, that has refocused attention on teacher evaluation. Some have expressed criticism that requiring school districts to bargain over this topic is an “expansion” of bargaining rights. This criticism is incorrect, unwarranted, and contrary to making meaningful changes to an evaluation system aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning. To have a fair and comprehensive system you must include the professionals who are in California classrooms every day.
via Continuing to collectively bargain over teacher evaluation makes sense – by Dean Vogel.
After lying dormant for a year, a bill to overhaul the state’s teacher evaluation law will resurface Monday, subject to continuing negotiations over its cost and some disagreements over its content.
The bill, which would require that all districts evaluate every teacher based on a set of attributes and practices outlined in the bill, is similar to an evaluation framework that the union adopted earlier this year, Rucker said. AB 5, she said, “is a clear and good policy document.”
via Do-or-die time for teacher evaluation bill – by John Fensterwald.
With teachers and organized labor rallying against what they called an unnecessary attack on their rights, a bill that would make it easier to fire teachers and administrators accused of serious sexual and violent offenses against children failed to pass the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday. Sen. Alex Padilla’s controversial SB 1530 will be dead for the session unless he can persuade one more Democrat to reverse positions within the next week .
The bill had bipartisan support in the Senate, where it passed 33-4, but, in a test of strength by the California Teachers Association, only one Democrat, Education Committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley, and all four Republicans backed it in the crucial committee vote. The other six Democrats either voted against it (Tom Ammiano, San Francisco; Joan Buchanan, San Ramon) or didn’t vote (Betsy Butler, El Segundo; Wilmer Carter, Rialto; Mike Eng, Alhambra; and Das Williams, Santa Barbara).
via Dismissal bill falters in Assembly – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
California’s 6 million-student public school system is not only the largest chunk of the state budget that will be enacted this week – by far – but the major component of Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign for sales and income tax increases as well.
And if that isn’t yeasty enough, the governor is also proposing huge changes in the way state school money is calculated and disbursed.
What emerges from all of this is impossible, even for political insiders, to predict.
If all goes as Brown plans, his aides say, California schools will see an average 47 percent increase in financing over the rest of his governorship, assuming it lasts another term.
via Dan Walters: California school aid at center of wrangle over tax measures.
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.
The Education Coalition, the organization that represents mainstream education groups, announced its opposition Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to require a school district to offer charter schools any building that it decides it no longer needs.
The proposal is one of several that the governor included in his May budget revision to benefit charters, which, the budget notes, receive lower state reimbursements than district schools and generally face higher facilities costs. But the Coalition noted that selling surplus property and using the proceeds for general fund purposes is “one of the few ways districts have mitigated cuts.”
via Charters, Ed Coalition at odds over buildings – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
Responding to criticisms of his plan for school finance reform, Gov. Jerry Brown has significantly revised his weighted student formula, raising the base amount that all districts will receive, reducing the differences between district “winners” and “losers” by reducing extra money for disadvantaged students, assuring districts they will be repaid for past budget cuts, and adding contingencies in case optimistic revenue projects come up short.
State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who four years ago co-developed a weighted student formula on which this proposal is based, said the administration incorporated most of the suggestions that it received. “I think this is a much better proposal and the one to frame the debate rather than the initial plan with flaws and omissions,” Kirst said.
via Big changes to weighted formula – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
Vallejo teachers celebrated each other Wednesday as part of the annual Day of the Teacher observance.
“I know that there is nothing as exhilarating or exhausting as teaching,” said Christal Watts, Vallejo Education Association president.
The teachers union sponsored the barbecue dinner at the U.S.A. World Classics Event Center, which was packed with hundreds of teachers from across the Vallejo City Unified School District.
via Vallejo teachers celebrate each other in day of recognition.