The Educated Guess: Compromise on school fees bill

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

Advocates of a complaint process for parents and students who believe they’re being charged illegal fees have amended a bill to satisfy all of the main opponents, save the silent one who hasn’t been heard from yet. That’s Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed similar legislation last year.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee approved AB 1575 without opposition, and changes that were made to the bill may smooth its way through the Senate and on to Brown’s desk. One factor could motivate him to sign it this year: Doing so would settle a lawsuit against the state that the state is likely to lose.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is pushing the bill that Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate) is sponsoring for the second straight year. Two years ago, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit against the state after discovering, through an informal investigation, that dozens of school districts were charging students for textbooks, lab materials, Advanced Placement test fees, and sports uniforms. Students who couldn’t afford them were sometimes publicly humiliated.

via Compromise on school fees bill – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

Education Week: Health-Care Ruling Affects Students, Adults With Disabilities

In particular for families of children with disabilities, Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the Affordable Care Act may come as a huge relief.

Other government health insurance programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, have filled some of the gaps in health insurance coverage for people with disabilities before the health care law, but they didn’t go far enough.

Dr. Paul Lipkin, who works with children who have developmental disorders, and has also worked closely with children with cerebral palsy and premature infants, said these families may be especially grateful for some of the law’s provisions.

For one thing, the law removes lifetime limits on coverage that many insurance companies now pose.

via Health-Care Ruling Affects Students, Adults With Disabilities.

Dixon Patch Opinion: Girimonte Appointed as Acting Principal for Dixon High

Maybe that silly pendulum that swung way out there with the idea that it takes spending thousands of tax payer’s dollars for consultants to find a right fit for man and job, might actually be swinging back the other way. Dixon Unified School District first approves Brian Dolan as our DUSD Superintendent and now we have Nick Girimonte as an Acting Principal for Dixon High School. Imagine that.


Brian was a hands-on principal at Dixon High for several years. The students really liked him but they also respected him. What I liked about him was that he appeared to really enjoy his job. He was fun but good at discipline as well. One of my children had Mr. Tognetti as a Principal, the middle one had Brian, and my last one almost had Nick.


Nick and his brothers went to Dixon High School and their family lived here. Their mother works in the schools and their father, an insurance businessman, set the example to be involved in the community. I’ve always liked the family because they volunteered to cook a spaghetti dinner for the AFS (American Field Service) Club at Dixon High School to help our exchange students have a little extra cash during their stay here.

via Girimonte Appointed as Acting Principal for Dixon High.

Daily Republic: Fairfield-Suisun school board passes budget

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District board unanimously approved the district’s 2012-13 budget Thursday, putting to bed a budget that includes closing a school and eliminating home-to-school transportation.

The board voted 7-0. By law, the board must pass the budget before June 30, which is Saturday.

Nearly all the work was completed prior to Thursday. The board in February began with public meetings to close a $6.5 million deficit. The cuts include closing Sullivan Middle School.

Givebacks by school district unions saved the district $1.9 million, savings programs such as high school sports and activities, employee positions and funding for adult education, independent study and for classroom materials.

via Fairfield-Suisun school board passes budget.

California Watch: For blacks and Latinos, few Calif. high schools offer path to college

Joanna Lin

California high schools that serve largely Latino or African American students are failing them as pathways to college, according to a new report by a statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization.

Just 10 percent of high schools that serve primarily Latino students have above-average graduation and college-going rates for Latinos. The same is true for African Americans at 24 percent of high schools serving the largest proportions of African American students, the Education Trust–West found. Many students in both populations are low-income.

The college-going rate among Latino and African American students who graduated high school in 2010 lagged behind that of white and Asian students by 20 and more than 30 percentage points, respectively. The estimate, released last week, found 45 percent of Latinos and 46 percent of African Americans in the class of 2010 enrolled in college.

via For blacks and Latinos, few Calif. high schools offer path to college.

The Educated Guess: Trending toward graduation

By Kathryn Baron

California’s high school graduation rate is edging upwards for most groups of students. The overall graduation rate for 2010-11 was 76.3 percent, or 1.5 percent above the prior year.

Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, acknowledged that while it’s not a surge, it’s still good news.

“It’s heading in the right direction; it’s certainly not where we want it to be,” said Torlakson during a telephone conference call with journalists on Wednesday. “The thing that I think is more noteworthy is the larger gains we’re seeing among Hispanics and African American students.”

The graduation rate for Hispanic students increased by 2.2 percent to 70.4 percent, and rose by 2.3 percent among African American students to reach 62.9 percent. At the same time, dropout rates for those groups of students fell by 3.1 percent and 2.1 percent respectively. English learners also showed progress, with a 3.8 percent increase in their graduation rates.

via Trending toward graduation – by Kathryn Baron.

The Educated Guess: Dismissal bill falters in Assembly

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

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.

Vallejo Times-Herald: California and Vallejo see slight increase in high school graduation rate

By Sarah Rohrs

Graduation rates among California’s and Vallejo public high school students are climbing and drop out rates are falling, the state Department of Education announced Wednesday.

“It’s all positive. It’s a step in the right direction,” Department of Education spokeswoman Tina Jung said.

The trend is also apparent in the Vallejo City Unified School District, which saw a slight boost in its graduation rate from the 2009-10 school year to last year.

In Vallejo, 54.1 percent graduated from high school this year, a small increase over the previous year’s rate of 53.6 percent, according to the state.

via California and Vallejo see slight increase in high school graduation ….

The Reporter: Solano County school districts to OK 2012-13 budgets

By Richard Bammer/

After more than six months of discussion, public comment and angst, three area unified school district governing boards — Vacaville, Dixon and Fairfield — will meet tonight and vote to approve their 2012-13 budgets as trustees cast a cold eye on possible reduced state funding in the coming months.

Vacaville and Fairfield school leaders will put their OK on smaller bottom lines compared to last year, but Dixon’s board will approve a budget similar to one approved in 2011, meaning no major cutbacks in staff, teaching days or programs.

By law, districts must send balanced budgets to the County Office of Education by the end of the fiscal year, which is Saturday.

via Solano County school districts to OK 2012-13 budgets.

The Reporter: California graduation rates up, dropout rates down

More California high school students graduated in 2011 and fewer dropped out, with the biggest gains posted by Hispanic, black and English learner students, the state Department of Education said Wednesday.

Most Solano County schools also saw strong graduation rates and dwindling dropout numbers, according to the state figures.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said he was encouraged by the results, which put California’s graduation rate at 76.3 percent, up 1.5 percent from 2010, and dropout rate at 14.4 percent, down by 2.2 percent, from 2010, but noted there was still much room for improvement.

“It’s going in the right direction, but it’s not where we want it to be,” Torlakson said. “We want to be at 85-90 percent.”

via California graduation rates up, dropout rates down.

Daily Republic Letters: School administrators using fear

Rob Thomas

Suisun City

Fear is such a motivator. Parents use fear to get their children to do things; not always physical fear, but fear nonetheless. Coaches use fear with their players to either play or sit if they don’t do as they are told or instructed. Bullies use fear as the ultimate intimidator to get the weak to do what they want no matter what it is.

Gov. Jerry Brown was voted in on the, “I won’t let anything happen to education and services” platform. He wants that high-speed rail and if we don’t agree and vote in his higher taxes, then what we hold dearest to us he will take away and “teach us a lesson.”

via School administrators using fear.

Daily Republic Opinion: Home, school, community work together

As a county school board trustee, I like to look back and savor some of the special moments during the year.

I never forget the special people, organizations and others that give back to their communities. Though many don’t have children in our schools, they still share, give of their time, effort, talents and commitment. There’s simply not enough space here to cover all of the good will, worthy efforts and commitment that I witness year after year.

“Giving whether it be of time, labor, affection, advice, gifts or whatever is one of life’s greatest pleasures,” someone once said. Many take this creed to heart.

via Home, school, community work together.

Daily Republic: FSUSD school board eyes historic election switch Thursday

FAIRFIELD — The way Fairfield and Suisun City residents elect school board members will soon change dramatically.

The school board will vote Thursday on a plan to switch the district’s election system from at-large to by-area, creating seven districts within the district’s boundaries. In future elections, beginning in 2013, residents will elect school board members from their neighborhoods.

The board has seven slots, one for each area.

Board observers and members of a citizen committee that created the trustee areas said it will diversify representation on a school board that has been perceived as being heavy with members living west of Interstate 80 in the Fairfield’s more affluent neighborhoods.

via School board eyes historic election switch Thursday.

Daily Republic: Fairfield, Suisun graduation rates improve

FAIRFIELD — Following a statewide trend, more high school students in Fairfield graduated in 2011 and fewer dropped out, with big gains posted by Hispanic and black students, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education.

Districtwide, Fairfield-Suisun had an 82.9 percent graduation rate, up 4.1 percent from 2010, and a dropout rate of 13.7 percent, down 3.2 percent from the previous year.

Graduation rates increased while dropout rates fell for Hispanic and black students in the Fairfield-Suisun School District. Hispanic students in the Fairfield area graduated at a rate of 83.4 percent, up 10.6 percent from 2010 and dropped out at a rate of 14.7 percent, down 7.9 percent from the previous year.

Over the same period, black students graduated at a 77.2 percent rate, up 9.8 percent, while dropout rates fell 8.7 percent to 16.3 percent.

via Fairfield, Suisun graduation rates improve.

CA Dept of Education: Graduate, Dropout Rates Released

SACRAMENTO—Graduation rates among California’s public school students are climbing and dropout rates are falling, with the biggest gains being made among English learners and the state’s largest minority groups, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

More than three quarters, or 76.3 percent, of students who started high school in 2007 graduated with their class in 2011. That is up 1.5 percentage points from the 2010 graduation rate. Larger gains were seen among Hispanic and African American students at 2.2 and 2.3 percentage points respectively, with the biggest increase being among English learners at 3.8 percentage points. The graduation rate for socioeconomically disadvantaged students climbed nearly 2 percentage points, from 68.1 to 70 percent.

via Graduate, Dropout Rates Released.

The Educated Guess: Extra support no help for high school exit exam

By Kathryn Baron

Years of interventions designed to help students pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) have had little impact. A study released last night by the Public Policy Institute of California found that tutoring didn’t help students at all, while CAHSEE prep classes and continued support after twelfth grade had only modest success.

“The glass is a quarter full,” said UC San Diego economics professor Julian Betts, a co-author of the study. “There’s modest success here and we should take some pride in that.”

The report, titled Passing the California High School Exit Exam: Have recent policies improved student performance?, found that that the assistance programs helped somewhere between 1.5 and 3 percent of students who failed the exam in their sophomore year to eventually pass the test.

“In other words, the interventions unfortunately do not help the vast majority of those failing the CAHSEE in grade 10 to pass the test in a later grade,” wrote the authors.

via No Exit – by Kathryn Baron.

Dan Walters: Is California’s budget now relatively lower than during the Reagan era?

Gov. Jerry Brown knows that it’s difficult to persuade California voters to raise taxes, even those they may not pay themselves, as rejection of a new cigarette tax this month underscores.

In fact, polls indicate that his chances of winning approval of his multibillion-dollar sales and income tax measure in November are, at this moment, no better than 50-50.

As he fashioned the 2012-13 budget, therefore, he wanted to impress voters that he’s being tight with their money – hence, his public squabbling with Democrats over services for the poor, his furloughs for state workers, his agency reorganization and his pleas for pension reform.

Read more here:

via Dan Walters: Is California’s budget now relatively lower than during the Reagan era?.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Some Solano County kids missing free summer meals, state study shows

By Sarah Rohrs Times-Herald staff writer

School may be out for summer, but hunger never takes a break, though new state data shows that fewer meals are being served through federally funded programs while children are not in class.

Solano County is tied with four other counties for 13th place as highest summer meal participation rate among California’s 58 counties, according to the California Department of Education data.

In Vallejo, 40,000 and 50,000 meals will be served this summer, said Kerri Braverman, Vallejo City Unified School District director of student nutrition services.

Any child 18 or younger can secure a free meal at a number of sites throughout the city, Braverman said.

via Some Solano County kids missing free summer meals, state study ….

Education Week: Electrical Activity in the Brain Can Distinguish Children With Autism

Tests that measure the electrical activity in the brain can distinguish children with autism from children with typical brains as early as age 2, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have found.

Researchers compared raw data from the electroencephalogram tests, or EEGs, of 430 children with autism and 554 other children ages 2 to 12. They found that children with autism had consistent EEG patterns showing altered connectivity between different parts of the brain—generally, they showed reduced connectivity compared with the other children’s brains. Their study was published this week in the online journal BMC Medicine.

This altered connectivity stood out in the left side of the brain, which controls language. Researchers focused on children with autism who had been referred for EEGs by neurologists, psychiatrists, or developmental pediatricians to rule out seizure disorders. Children diagnosed with seizure disorders, those with Asperger syndrome and other high-functioning children with autism were excluded from the study.

via Electrical Activity in the Brain Can Distinguish Children With Autism.

EdSource Extra!: Multiple bills to reform school discipline laws get hearing in Sacramento

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.