What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for California Schools? – Public Policy Institute of California

By Justin Goss

As the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of net neutrality phases in, concerns that Internet service providers (ISPs) could speed up or slow down traffic from certain websites or prioritize certain content loom large. Changes to Internet service, if any, will probably be slow and gradual; however, the repeal has potentially important implications for the digital divide in and outside of California’s schools.

K‒12 schools rely increasingly on online content and management systems to deliver instruction (e.g., blended learning), administer standardized tests (e.g., Smarter Balanced assessments), and manage educational data (e.g., cloud computing). As online learning becomes ubiquitous, access to high-speed Internet is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Most schools receive discounted Internet services through the federal E-rate program, but if providers decide to introduce tiered pricing based on content, students and educators could lose access to quality education programs. Tiered pricing could also exacerbate the digital divide between urban and rural districts. PPIC research shows that close to 70% of rural districts lack sufficient bandwidth for digital learning, compared to 18% of urban districts. If this gap persists or widens, students in rural areas may be left behind in the digital race.

Source: What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for California Schools? – Public Policy Institute of California

More States Opting To ‘Robo-Grade’ Student Essays By Computer | MindShift

By Tovia Smith

It would take a computer about a nano-second to mark “D” as the correct answer. That’s easy.

But now, machines are also grading students’ essays. Computers are scoring long form answers on anything from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the pros and cons of government regulations.

Developers of so-called “robo-graders” say they understand why many students and teachers would be skeptical of the idea. But they insist, with computers already doing jobs as complicated and as fraught as driving cars, detecting cancer, and carrying on conversations, they can certainly handle grading students’ essays.

Source: More States Opting To ‘Robo-Grade’ Student Essays By Computer | MindShift | KQED News

Do Specialized Teaching Roles Help or Hurt Students? – Education Next

By Thomas Arnett

The success of our schools—and of our education system at large—hinges on teachers. From decades of research we know that teachers influence student outcomes more than anything else a school has to offer. Given the importance of teachers, many of the prominent ideas for improving education focus on increasing teacher impact through better recruitment, preparation, and development or through giving teachers better tools and resources. Yet perhaps one of the best ways to expand teacher impact doesn’t require extensive reform or new technology.

For some time, I’ve wondered if schools might help their teachers accomplish more by allowing them to focus more narrowly on what they do. This idea isn’t new to education. Middle and high school teachers already specialize by subject so they can hone deep expertise in teaching particular content areas. But what if schools took this idea a step further by having teachers specialize not just by subject, but by the roles they fulfill in the classroom?

Teaching is a multifaceted job that might benefit from some streamlining. In addition to being content instructors (often in multiple content areas), we also expect teachers to be curriculum designers, assessment creators, and experts at evaluating student work and analyzing student learning data, not to mention experts in classroom management and culture, coaching students on self-management, providing students with social and emotional support, and being the primary school connection with parents and families.

Source: Do Specialized Teaching Roles Help or Hurt Students? – Education Next : Education Next

How To Get Kids To Pay Attention | MindShift

By Michaeleen Doucleff

Fifteen years ago, psychologists Barbara Rogoff and Maricela Correa-Chavez ran a simple experiment. They wanted to see how well kids pay attention — even if they don’t have to.

They would bring two kids, between the ages 5 to 11, into a room and have them sit at two tables.

Then they had a research assistant teach one of the kids how to assemble a toy.

The other kid was told to wait. Rogoff says they would tell the second child, “You can sit over here, and in a few minutes you’ll have a turn to make this origami jumping mouse,” — a different task altogether.

Source: How To Get Kids To Pay Attention | MindShift | KQED News

Bill Gates gets involved in Education – Eduwonk.com

Guys, you aren’t going to believe this…Bill Gates and his wife spend a lot of money to influence education policy.

This testing story from Tennessee is pretty fantastic. You’re a state and your testing company isn’t doing a great job for you so you bring in another company to help with capacity and then – surprise! – the second company is owned by the first company. And neither company is named Pearson!

Anyway, I’m always struck how in any conversation about testing things immediately turn to Pearson – certainly a major player – but you don’t hear a lot about ETS, one of the two companies involved here or the American Institutes for Research, another major vendor.

Source: Eduwonk.com

Leaven mentor nominated for 95.3 KUIC ‘Teacher of the Month’ – Daily Republic

By Ashley Ching

May, National Teacher Appreciation Month, is a time to show gratitude for the educators who have done so much for us. Not only have teachers taught us essential skills like literacy and arithmetic, but they have also served as our cherished mentors and role models.

Great educators like this are found at The Leaven, a Fairfield-based tutoring program that has earned national recognition by Dr. Phil. Within the rapidly growing grassroots organization, The Leaven benefits at-risk youth in many ways. It helps students succeed in school, including reading and comprehension; it provides positive role models for its students; and it reduces crime as residents become active in making their communities safer.

Source: Leaven mentor nominated for 95.3 KUIC ‘Teacher of the Month’

Teachers Have the Nation’s Highest Retirement Costs – Education Next

By Chad Aldeman

As teachers have staged walkouts and strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and perhaps Arizona, most of the news coverage has focused on big-picture questions about state education budgets or average teacher salaries. But this misses a large trend going on in the background — teachers, like other workers in the American economy, are forgoing base salary increases in favor of in-kind benefits.

In 2016, I wrote a paper called “The Pension Pac-Man,” attempting to raise awareness of these issues. Using national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, I found that teacher salaries hadn’t increased, in inflation-adjusted terms, since the early 1990s. But while base teacher salaries have not risen, total teacher compensation has, driven by large increases in health care and retirement costs. That is, there’s a growing disconnect between what teachers are paid and what their employers pay for them.

This trend has accelerated rapidly over the past 10 years. Across the country, benefit costs are increasing much faster than salaries. At some level, this trend is playing out across the broader American economy as the baby boom generation begins to retire and as health care costs have soared. Over the past decade, civilian employers have paid average annual wage increases of 2.3 percent, their health care contributions have risen by 3.2 percent, and retirement costs have increased by 4.9 percent a year.

Source: Teachers Have the Nation’s Highest Retirement Costs. But They’ll Never See the Benefits – Education Next : Education Next

First 5 Solano starts $200K annual grant program – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

First 5 Solano has launched a $200,000 grant program for one-time projects that address the needs of children up to 5 years old, caregivers – including parents and guardians – and service providers.

“The purpose of the annual grants program is to provide an opportunity for the First 5 Solano Commission to consider grant requests that fill community gaps, pilot new or innovative ideas, or address time-sensitive community needs,” a statement released by the county Administrator’s Office said.

“All projects proposed for the annual grants fund must support First 5 Solano’s mission to promote, support and improve the lives of young children, their families and their communities,” the statement said.

Source: First 5 Solano starts $200K annual grant program

What It Takes To Be A Top School Leader – Forbes

Big, medium or small, urban, suburban or rural, school districts all over the country need a leader, usually a superintendent.

It’s not an easy job, particularly in this time of school violence, teacher strikes, school funding woes and controversy over widespread testing and how student perform.

How do superintendents pull it off?

For an answer, I found a great source: David R. Schuler, the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year.

Source: What It Takes To Be A Top School Leader

Benicia Middle School pitches in to help fellow student – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

March 26 to 29 was March Madness Spirit Week at Benicia Middle School, where students got to show their school pride by dressing up and partaking in various activities. They also had their annual coin drive sponsored by the leadership class, where students donate money to a particular cause. Past donors have included the Humane Society of the North Bay and Faith Food Fridays. This year, students decided to raise money for one of their peers.

In December, seventh-grader Sunni Dae Ross was diagnosed with a brain tumor which was removed the following month. Ross soldiered on by continuing to attend school amidst her health issues. She notes that she is feeling positive but is limited in what she can do.

Source: Benicia Middle School pitches in to help fellow student

How Much Would it Cost to Get All Students Up to Average? | US News

By The Hechinger Report

How much does it cost to educate a child? It often feels like policymakers pick numbers out of a hat. Utah spends less than $7,000 a year on a student from kindergarten through high school. New York spends more than $20,000, federal data show. Within the state of Illinois, a wealthy district typically spends $3,400 more than a poor district, according to a February 2018 study by The Education Trust, a nonprofit group that conducts research and advocates for low-income students. Cost of living differences account for some of these gaps but not all or even most of them, says Ary Amerikaner of Education Trust.

Now a team of five researchers from Rutgers University in collaboration with the Education Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has created a complicated model that predicts how much money it would cost each school district in America to get its students to reach average test scores in math and reading, as recorded from 2013 to 2015. This is not a particularly ambitious goal; the average test score in the U.S. is well below what is considered “proficient” for each grade level.

Source: How Much Would it Cost to Get All Students Up to Average? | National News | US News

Solano County to host resource fair and launch website for people with disabilities – The Reporter

In observance of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Solano County Health and Social Services, in partnership with the DisABILITY Planning Group, will host a Disabilities Resource Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the County Events Center, 601 Texas Street in Fairfield. This event is free and open to the public.

At the resource fair, the County will unveil the SolanoCares.org — Disabilities website, an online hub of resources, services, health topics and events designed specifically for Solano residents with disabilities. Like its sister site SolanoCares4Seniors.org, this one-stop resource website provides people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers, and health care professionals a means to easily look up disability-related information.

Key features of the website include a comprehensive service directory of local, state and national resources, community calendar, learning center, nationwide news stories and health library. The website aims to empower people with disabilities by providing them a streamlined platform to find resources in an easy-to-read format. SolanoCares.org is ADA-compliant and available in multiple languages.

Source: Solano County to host resource fair and launch website for people with disabilities

First 5 Solano announces Children’s Month grants – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

First 5 Solano has several grants of up to $300 each available to fund events and observances that celebrate and recognize children in the community.

Events may include education about the health, development, safety and school readiness of children from birth to 5 years old or may be recognizing “April Children’s Month” observances, such as Week of the Young Child, Children’s Memorial Flag Day, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CASA Light of Hope Day, Month of the Military Child, National Spank-Out Day, Victims of Crime Week, and El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros Day.

Source: First 5 Solano announces Children’s Month grants

Leading Democratic candidates for California governor offer visions for education | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg

California voters interested in the future of education in California will make a pivotal decision when they go to the polls twice next year to elect a successor to Gov. Jerry Brown, whose record four terms are drawing to a close.

The primary election will be held exactly six months from now (on June 5, 2018). The general election will be held on Nov. 6. The four leading Democratic candidates to replace him are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and former State Controller and current State Treasurer John Chiang. Because of Democratic dominance in statewide elections, it is a virtual certainty that one of them will be elected governor.

In the latest PPIC poll of registered voters, conducted between Nov. 10 and Nov. 19, Newsom was still leading the field, although narrowly. He received 23 percent voter support, compared to 18 percent for Villaraigosa. Chiang got 9 percent support, and Eastin 6 percent. But large proportion of voters — 30 percent — are undecided. The two leading GOP candidates — businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen — received 9 percent and 6 percent support respectively.

Source: Where they stand: leading Democratic candidates for California governor offer visions for education | EdSource

School Voucher Programs Should Be Clear About Disability Rights, GAO Report Says : NPR Ed

By Cory Turner

A new report from the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office says many of the nation’s voucher programs — and the private schools that participate in them — aren’t giving parents the information they need to make an informed choice, especially parents of kids with disabilities.

Federal law says that students with disabilities are entitled to certain protections when they attend public school (more on those in a minute). If parents use a publicly funded voucher to enroll their child in a private school, they leave many of those protections behind. Some families do this knowingly, trading federal guarantees in a cash-strapped public school for the hope of something better on the private market.

Source: School Voucher Programs Should Be Clear About Disability Rights, GAO Report Says : NPR Ed : NPR

5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management | Edutopia

By Samer Rabadi and Betty Ray

Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct. There’s nothing easy about shepherding a large group of easily distractible young people with different skills and temperaments along a meaningful learning journey.

So how do master teachers do it?

To get a deeper understanding of experienced teachers’ go-to classroom management strategies, we took an informal poll on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, there is no silver bullet for classroom management success. That said, as we pored over the more than 700 responses, we did see some clear trends. Here are the most often cited and creative approaches.

Source: 5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management | Edutopia

California’s school war flares up on 3 fronts – Daily Republic

By Dan Walters

Three recent and seemingly discreet events neatly frame California’s political and legal war over whether the state’s six million K-12 students are being adequately educated.

The conflict pits the state’s education establishment against a coalition of civil rights groups, education reformers and charter school advocates over the “achievement gap” that separates poor children, particularly Latinos and African-Americans, from more privileged white and Asian students.

The battle has been waged in the Legislature, before the state school board and local boards and quite often in the legal arena.

Source: CALmatters Commentary: California’s school war flares up on 3 fronts

State Controller posts pay info on some K-12 staff – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Controller Betty T. Yee has updated the Government Compensation in California website to include 2016 self-reported salary and benefits data for K-12 education employers, including public school districts, charter schools and county offices of education.

The data, which can be found at www.publicpay.ca.gov, covers 634,314 positions across the state and more than $25.55 billion in wages.

But in Solano County, however, pay information for most school districts and employees was not reported.

Here’s why:

While cities, counties, and special districts are required to report salary and benefits data to the State Controller, K-12 education employers, that is, school districts, are voluntary reporters, said Taryn Kinney, a spokeswoman for Yee’s office.

Yee — who, as the chief fiscal officer of California, is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s taxpayer-funded resources — requested data from more than 1,900, K-12 school districts. However, only 514 chose to report “in the interest of transparency,” Kinney wrote in a press release issued Wednesday.

Source: State Controller posts pay info on some K-12 staff

Child Haven shares plans for holiday luncheon – The Reporter

By Daily Republic Staff

The 29th annual Child Haven Holiday Luncheon, Toy Drive and Raffle is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at The Clubhouse at Rancho Solano, 3250 Rancho Solano Parkway.

Proceeds benefit Child Haven, which, since 1983, has offered therapeutic services for children traumatized by abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, domestic and community-based violence.

Source: Child Haven shares plans for holiday luncheon

Seal on diploma will be badge of honor for civically active California students | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Johnny Rebel, the 20-foot tall mural of a Civil war soldier carrying a rifle, may soon be sanded and scraped off the gym wall and into the dustbin of history at Savanna High in Southern California.

All because students got involved and came up with a recommendation for their school board.

Their work is just the type of civic engagement that in the future should earn students a California Seal of Civic Engagement, said Michelle Herczog, a history consultant with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and activist for civics education. When first awarded, probably in 2021, students who put good grades in civics, social studies and government to good use in the community will see the seal affixed to their high school diploma.

Source: Seal on diploma will be badge of honor for civically active California students | EdSource