One day after a survey warned that budget cuts have caused an unprecedented drop in enrollment at California’s community colleges, the state Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that could bring the first significant reforms in more than a decade to community colleges.
The Student Success Act of 2012, by Democratic Senators Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Carol Liu of La Cañada Flintridge, received nearly unanimous bipartisan support. It would give new students more support early on, including orientation and better academic counseling, in an effort to improve dismal graduation rates. Only about a third of community college students earn an associate degree or a certificate, or transfer to a four-year college within six years.
via Landmark community college bill heads to governor – by Kathryn Baron.
By Jim Sanders
Hotly contested legislation to create a new statewide teacher evaluation system was shelved Thursday night, one day before the Legislature adjourns for the year.
Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes made the decision after learning that there would not be time for a public hearing on last-minute amendments.
“I could not in good conscience allow the proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing,” the Sylmar Democrat said in a prepared statement. “I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night.”
via Assemblyman’s teacher rating bill shelved.
Given the political realities under California’s Capitol dome, the pension measure awaiting final action in the Legislature today is probably the best reform package that could have been achieved. Nevertheless, lawmakers need to vet this measure as carefully as they can before they approve it and the public should be under no illusions. The changes enacted do not end the pension crisis that afflicts the state, local governments and school districts.
A preliminary calculation by state pension official actuaries pegs the savings in the reform measure at $40 billion to $60 billion over the next three decades. That’s not nearly enough to erase the unfunded pension liabilities for the state and local governments, conservatively estimated at $164 billion.
via Editorial: Pension bill not perfect, but a start toward reform.
Ten months ago, Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed California’s public employee pension system to be “unsustainable” and proposed a very mild, 12-point reform plan.
This week, he embraced a much-weaker version drafted in secrecy by the Legislature’s Democratic leaders, who insisted that it is “a strong proposal” (Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg) and “comprehensive” (Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez).
Brown was only slightly less effusive, calling it a “significant step forward” that will “help to ensure that our public retirement system is sustainable for the long term.”
via Dan Walters: Pension overhaul plan falls short.
The author, a Vallejo resident, is president of the California State PTA 18th District, which includes Solano County, is chairman of district presidents.
Before billions were cut from California’s education budget, schools in my district were always staffed with a nurse to aid sick children, a librarian to help foster ideas and a counselor to point students in the right direction. Now, all of these positions have vanished and our children are paying the price.
Since 2008, political leaders have voted over and over to cut education funding by more than $20 billion. We’ve lost more than 40,000 educators and staffers, and California now has the largest class sizes of any state in the nation. Statistics like these are simply unacceptable for a state whose economy ranks within the top 10 largest in the world.
via Yes on Prop. 38: Time to fix California schools.
The Common Core State Standards: A state-led effort to help improve learning outcomes throughout the nation—or “Obama Core?” It’s clear here at the Republican convention that there’s a major split emerging in the party on that question.
On the one hand, there’s Jeb Bush, a key Romney surrogate and the former GOP governor of Florida. He points out that a majority of GOP governors have embraced the standards. And then you’ve got Gayle Ruzeicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, and a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
via Common Core State Standards Dividing GOP.
By John Fensterwald
AB 5 is dead. Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes withdrew the controversial rewrite of the teacher evaluation law Thursday evening, one day before the end of the legislative session, saying there wasn’t enough time for him and others to review a final set of amendments.
“I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night,” Fuentes said in a surprise statement.
via Fuentes withdraws teacher eval bill; says he ran out of time – by John Fensterwald.
VACAVILLE — The Community Services Department is offering a new junior kindergarten class for children who will be 4.5 years old when school begins.
The class start date was scheduled for Aug. 20 but was moved to Wednesday. Children who missed this year’s new kindergarten cutoff for 2012-13 will be eligible to enroll for the class.
The program uses hands-on learning to build competency for kindergarten. Children will read, write and do math prerequisites as well as social studies, music, science, art and physical education.
via City moves start date of Vacaville junior kindergarten.
FAIRFIELD — The police chief at Solano Community College has been placed on leave and a consultant has been hired to handle operations until a hearing takes place.
Chief Steve Dawson was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday by Solano Community College President Jowel Laguerre. Laguerre said he couldn’t discuss specifics because it was a personnel issue, but said the college is looking to revamp the department.
“He’s on leave until further notice. The final decision was mine to make,” Laguerre said Thursday. “We’ve been evaluating our service at the police for a while. We just want to make some changes.”
via Solano college places police chief on leave.
Oscar E. Cruz
Blogs have been written, editorials published, and dozens of action alerts sent to hundreds of individuals related to AB 5, the bill introduced by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes that aims to revamp teacher evaluations. Lost in all this commotion is the voice of families. Although they are the ultimate users of the public school system, their voices are typically lost in a political process that values compromise more than outcomes.
Families In Schools works annually with thousands of parents from low-income communities and communities of color, and their unified voice screams: “We want a quality education that will prepare our children for college and set them on a road to lifelong success.” Parents want an education system that is focused more on raising student outcomes than on political issues that have no relevance to student improvement. These voices should be our guiding light within a murky and confusing policy-making process.
via AB 5 locks in approaches to evaluation that have failed families – by Oscar E. Cruz.
Solano County Office of Education’s Facebook Wall
SCOE’s English Language Professional Development Series presents Dr. Adria Klein, professor emeritus at CA State University, San Bernardino, and visiting professor at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. Dr. Klein has worked extensively with groups instrumental in creating the new Common Core Standards for English learners (EL).
This collaborative professional development (PD) series will focus on Common Core and English Language Developent Common Core Standards and its implications for EL students focusing in text complexity. Title III PD goals, EL support strategies, EL monitoring, and coaching for ELD will be an intricate part of this series.
Register today! For more information: http://www.solanocoe.net/apps/events/2013/0/17/1223228/?id=0&REC_ID=1223228
via SCOE’s English Language Professional Development Series presents Dr. Adria Klein….
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.
No summer school and 800 fewer students than last year — these are just a few of the impacts the state fiscal crisis has had on Solano Community College, its president said.
“We have more students in the classes, and classes are more full,” Solano College President Jowel Laguerre said.
Solano College is not the only community college coping with less — despite a growing demand for higher education, state officials said.
The community colleges’ so-called “starvation diet” has resulted in a 17 percent drop in enrollment over the last four years, Community College Chancellor Jack Scott said.
via Leaders: California Community college 17 percent enrollment drop ….
With the list of opponents mounting, the author of a bill to rewrite the state’s 40-year-old teacher evaluation law rushed Wednesday to amend the bill for third time to try to get it through Senate committees and on to the floor of the Legislature by the end of the session tomorrow.
Meeting hastily Wednesday evening, ambivalent members of the Senate Education Committee approved AB 5 on the condition that Democratic Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes commit to a series of amendments. He agreed, although the wording won’t be ready until today.
via More amendments coming to AB 5, including sunset clause – by John Fensterwald.
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District held a public forum Wednesday to discuss changes to how school trustees will be elected in the future.
The only thing that was missing was the public.
Five people took the district up on its offer to discuss changing the election process from an at-large election to individual districts. The topic has been discussed for more than a year and has been on the agenda numerous times in the last few months.
via School district public forum draws few.
After more than a year of secretive maneuvering with Democrats in the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown announced a pension reform package on Tuesday that offers very little immediate budget relief for state or local governments.
Brown said the changes would save $18 billion to $30 billion over the next 30 years. But if the reforms outlined in press releases accurately reflect what’s in the legislation, it would be a modest step forward.
Details were hard to come by on Tuesday because the pension bills were not in print before the governor made his announcement. That alone ought to give the public and legislators pause.
via Editorial: At first blush, pension deal is modest at best.
For one Vallejo mother the local bus service has missed its mark — her son has been late to school in the morning and had to walk home from classes in the afternoon.
Parent Helenmarie “Cookie” Gordon said Soltrans’ bus service has been poorly timed, causing hardships for those relying on public transportation, particularly in South Vallejo.
“Our kids have to walk an hour to Vallejo (High School)”, she said. “It sends a very bad message to South Vallejo.”
Such complaints, and others, have prompted Soltrans to modify a number of runs since classes began last week, with more still to come.
via Soltrans modifies some Vallejo bus lines so students won’t be tardy.
The GOP platform released Tuesday at the Republican National Convention closely mirrors an officially nominated presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans for revamping K-12 education. It views expanded school choice as a major factor in fixing K-12 education, and celebrates local and state control while steering clear of getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education.
via GOP 2012 Education Platform Mirrors Romney Priorities.
The Republicans offered up a lot of tough talk Tuesday night—including battering President Barack Obama and teachers unions—as they hailed Mitt Romney as their newly nominated candidate for president.
By far the sharpest attacks in a long night of speeches at the Republican National Convention came from Gov. Chris Christie, of New Jersey, whose fire-breathing keynote speech attacked the educational establishment, especially teachers unions.
via Teachers Unions, Federal Spending Slammed at GOP Convention.
By Susan Frey
Having trouble getting your teenager up in time for school? Ask Whoopi Goldberg to help. The celebrity wake-up call is one of many successful strategies employed by New York City to try to get kids to school on time.
A report based on a nationwide survey of truants — Skipping to Nowhere — released Tuesday by Get Schooled emphasizes the importance of developing new strategies to convince both parents and students that being in school on time each day is important.
via Report: Truancy is taking its toll – by Susan Frey.