State school leader gives fed ed budget proposal a failing grade – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Tom Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, Tuesday urged Congress to reject President Trump’s federal education budget proposal, which includes cuts that he described as “deep” to teacher training, after school programs, mental health services, advanced coursework, among others.

“I give this budget an ‘F’ grade for failing public school students in California and across the nation,” Torlakson, who leads the country’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students, said in a press release. “We need to invest more in our public schools, not slash away at programs that help students succeed.”

A former East Bay high school science teacher and athletics coach, he noted that the proposed federal education budget heads in a completely different direction than the California approach to education funding.

 

Source: State school leader gives fed ed budget proposal a failing grade

Torlakson Announces Peak of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that nearly 500,000 California students took California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests on Tuesday May 9, the highest number of students testing simultaneously during the 2017 spring testing season.

“We are in the third year of administering these state-of-the-art assessments, and the capacity of our system and our schools to efficiently administer these tests increases every year,” Torlakson said. “Our students and families are the ultimate winners here. The information from these tests will help our schools refine their teaching, improve learning, and better prepare our students for success.”

The CAASPP assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics are given each spring to students in grades three through eight and grade eleven. More than two-thirds of the 3.3 million eligible California students have begun testing. As of Wednesday, May 10, more than 2.7 million students statewide have started a summative assessment in English language arts/literacy or mathematics. Participation peaked on May 9 with 495,463 students testing at one time.

Source: Torlakson Announces Peak of Annual CAASPP Testing – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Benicia High School honored for exemplary arts education – Times Herald

By Katy St. Clair

The California Department of Education is recognizing Benicia High School for its “Exemplary Program in Arts Education.”

Benicia High had previously been selected as a “Gold Ribbon School” by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson for representing “best practices” in education.

The Public Safety Academy in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District also received the “Exemplary” honor for its “Career Technical Education.”

Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said that both schools served their community with “model practices” and support their students with “state-of-the-art programs.”

 

Source: Benicia High School honored for exemplary arts education

Fairfield-Suisun school recognized for its career tech program – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The Public Safety Academy, a Fairfield-Suisun Unified school, was one of 23 of 275 Golden Ribbon middle schools and high schools to receive an additional honor, of having an Exemplary Program in one of several areas: arts education, career technical education or physical activity and nutrition.

PSA, as it’s called for short, was recognized for its CTE program, according to a press release from the state Department of Education. Tom Torlakson, the state schools chief, made the announcement.

Laurie Halcomb is principal at the Atlantic Avenue school of choice, where students in grades five to 12 experience a rigorous academic program and career readiness for those interested in law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency response and other public safety-related fields.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun school recognized for its career tech program

Buckingham Charter Magnet High School designated as Gold Ribbon School – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Four eastern Solano County schools have been recognized by the state Department of Education as 2017 Gold Ribbon Schools, it has been announced.

They are Buckingham Charter Magnet High School in Vacaville, Armijo High, Green Valley Middle School and the Public Safety Academy, the latter three all in Fairfield-Suisun Unified.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson made the announcement in a press release issued earlier this month. He cited 275 middle schools and high schools designated under annual awards program.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college,” Torlakson said. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

 

Source: Buckingham Charter Magnet High School designated as Gold Ribbon School

New Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today the appointment of Caryn Moore as the new Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services at the California Department of Education. She began her new assignment on April 17.

Moore has almost two decades of fiscal management experience at the California Department of Education. She is the former Associate Director of the School Fiscal Services Division.

“Caryn’s extensive financial background, experience, and proven track record as a strong fiscal administrator are great qualifications to lead this division,” Torlakson said. “We are pleased to have someone with her expertise on our management team.”

Source: New Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Classified School Employees Awardees Announced – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students.

“I started my public service career as a high school teacher and coach, and I know first-hand the vital role that classified employees have every day in our public schools,” Torlakson said. “These terrific employees keep schools clean and safe; they make sure our students get to school and can eat healthy meals; and they contribute to an overall positive school culture that cares for the whole child. I applaud the fantastic work these employees do every day.”

The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.

Source: Classified School Employees Awardees Announced – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Benicia High, Benicia Middle honored as exemplary California secondary schools – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

On Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Torlakson announced that 275 California middle and high schools were being recognized as part of the state’s Gold Ribbon Schools Award Program. Among them are Benicia Middle School and Benicia High School.The Gold Ribbon program honors schools throughout the state while the previous program, California Distinguished Schools, is on hiatus as the state creates new assessment programs. Schools throughout California applied based on standards-based activities, strategies projects, programs or practices that serve as models that other schools can follow.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said in a statement.

Of the thousands of secondary schools in California, 477 applied in 2016. Of these, 275 received the honor, including Benicia Middle and Benicia High.

Source: Benicia High, Benicia Middle honored as exemplary California secondary schools

Torlakson Announces 2017 CA Gold Ribbon Schools – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 275 middle schools and high schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.

The list of recognized schools is attached at the end of this press release.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment, accountability, and continuous improvement systems. 477 middle schools and high schools applied this year.

Schools applied for the award based on a model program or practice their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award acknowledged elementary schools last year.

Source: Torlakson Announces 2017 CA Gold Ribbon Schools – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Buckingham honored among Gold Ribbon Schools – The Reporter

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Tuesday announced that 275 middle schools and high schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.

Among the award winners is Buckingham Charter Magnet High School of the Vacaville Unified School District. The list also includes Armijo High School, Green Valley Middle School and the Public Safety Academy of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. Benicia High School and Benicia Middle School are also honored.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said in a press release. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

Source: Buckingham honored among Gold Ribbon Schools

Torlakson Announces Record High School Grad Rates – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reported today that California’s graduation rate increased for the seventh year in a row and is now at a record high for the class of 2016, with the biggest increases during that period taking place among English learners and African American and Latino students.

Among the cohort of students who started high school in 2012–13, 83.2 percent graduated with their class in 2016, up 0.9 percent from the year before. (See Table 1.) This increase means that 4,917 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before.

The state’s graduation rate has increased 8.5 percentage points since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate.

The graduation rate of almost every student subgroup calculated by the California Department of Education (CDE) also rose in 2016. (See Table 2.) The rate of increase among English learners was 2.7 percentage points, African Americans went up 1.8 percentage points, and Latino students increased by 1.5 percentage points.

Source: Torlakson Announces Record High School Grad Rates – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State recognizes Fairfield-Suisun School District’s attendance program – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Fairfield-Suisun School District is one of 27 school attendance programs recognized as model School Attendance Review Boards by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“Students need to be in school to learn,” Torlakson said in a press release announcing the honors. “The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.”

The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program tripled since 2016, said a press release from Torlakson’s office. The state SARB, a panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.

Source: State recognizes Fairfield-Suisun School District’s attendance program

2017 Model School Attendance Program Winners – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 27 school attendance programs were recognized as Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) for innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism.

“Students need to be in school to learn. The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said.

The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program tripled since 2016. The State SARB, an expert panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.

Source: 2017 Model School Attendance Program Winners – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

FSUSD recognized for its Model School Attendance program – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Like all educators, Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders take chronic absenteeism seriously, but their engaged, coordinated efforts to deal with students who are absent more than three weeks during a school year have been recognized by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

In a press release issued Thursday, he cited the district as one of 27 statewide with Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs), taking into account “innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism.”

“Students need to be in school to learn,” Torlakson said in the prepared statement. “The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college.”

 

Source: FSUSD recognized for its Model School Attendance program

Torlakson files court brief to protect federal funding – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday filed a court brief supporting a Bay Area county’s request to stop an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatens to stop federal funding for California cities, counties, and possibly public schools.

Torlakson filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Federal Court’s Ninth District, where Santa Clara County has filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the president’s January executive order that would withhold federal dollars from cities that declare themselves sanctuaries.

The injunction request said the order is unconstitutional because it would compel local governments to take an active role in enforcing immigration law and could withhold federal funding from agencies, including schools, which declare themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order fails to clearly define that term, Torlakson wrote in a press release issued Thursday.

 

Source: Torlakson files court brief to protect federal funding

State schools chief vows to battle Trump over cuts – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State schools chief Tom Torlakson said President Donald Trump’s proposed $1.1 trillion 2018 budget was very disappointing and goes in the wrong direction with funding cuts that would hurt disadvantaged children, after-school programs, teacher training, and other services, but sets aside $250 million for a nationwide voucher program.

In a press release issued Friday, he said the cuts, should they go into effect, would hobble programs that help prepare California 6.2 million public school students for jobs in the increasingly technological, 21st-century global economy.

Trump’s planned budget would take hundreds of millions of dollars from California by eliminating federal funds for programs that have proven successful in educating at-risk students, especially those from low-income backgrounds. It also reduces financial assistance to low-income college students.

 

Source: State schools chief vows to battle Trump over cuts

State’s new school “report card” system debuts Wednesday – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After some field testing, the state’s new school “report card” system, giving parents another way to evaluate their child’s learning environment, will finally debut Wednesday, state officials have announced.

The California School Dashboard, as it’s called, will go live to the general public at www.cde.ca.gov/dashboard.

The public rollout will come nearly nine weeks after the State Board of Education formally approved it, with several changes to be made to strengthen and improve it for the 2017-18 academic year, when it will go into full effect.

Source: State’s new school “report card” system debuts Wednesday – The Reporter

Torlakson asks feds to clarify policy on ICE action near schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, as part of his efforts to ensure parents and students feel safe at schools regardless of their immigration status, Thursday asked federal law enforcement authorities to explain if they are changing a policy that had avoided immigration actions near schools.

Torlakson wrote a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and requested information if the agency is still following the “Sensitive Locations” guidance, which directs federal agents to generally avoid enforcement activities at schools, school bus stops, college and universities, and other education-related locations.

His letter was prompted by the need to inform school leaders in California, but also by his alarm at an action taken in late February by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who took Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, a 48-year-old father of four, into custody after he dropped off one of his daughters at Academia Avance public charter school in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

 

Source: Torlakson asks feds to clarify policy on ICE action near schools

State ed chief says state law protects transgender students – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Local, state and national educators said the White House decision to rescind protections for transgender public school students does not change existing law.

Their statements come after a joint letter issued Wednesday by top civil rights officials in the federal Justice and Education departments rejected the Obama administration’s position in 2016 that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

In a press release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reiterated his support for the rights of transgender students and reminded all Californians that state law requires public schools to allow students access to the restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity.

Source: State ed chief says state law protects transgender students

CA Dream Act Applications Due March 2 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) announced that applications for the California Dream Act are down significantly and urged all eligible students to apply for the program, which allows undocumented students to receive state financial aid for college.

“Please apply right away. The California Dream Act is the key to success in college and 21st century careers. It would be a shame if fear or confusion keeps students from applying for financial aid that they have earned and they deserve,” Torlakson said.

The application deadline is March 2. As of Friday, CSAC had received about 20,000 applications, down from more than 34,000 applications from the prior year. The California Dream Act is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The California Student Aid Commission has redoubled its efforts to encourage Dreamers to complete the California Dream Act Application,” said Lupita Cortez Alcalá, Executive Director for the CSAC, which administers the California Dream Act. “California’s strength lies in its diversity and we will continue to support and advance our efforts to prepare all California students for academic and economic prosperity.”

Source: CA Dream Act Applications Due March 2 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)