EdSource Today: Pension reform: top-paid administrators to take biggest hit

The retirement age for new teachers will be pushed back two years; they’ll have to fork over about another 1 percent of their pay into the retirement system. And their bosses – principals and administrators ­– will see a ceiling of $132,120 as the portion of their pay used to calculate retirement pay. Those in the highest-paid jobs, earning $200,000 plus, may see pensions reduced by tens of thousands of dollars.

These are the primary changes specifically to members of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, from pension reforms negotiated between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders. The package, which will affect every state and local public employee to various degrees, was unloaded on lawmakers Tuesday, four days before the end of the legislative session.

via Pension reform: top-paid administrators to take biggest hit – by John Fensterwald.

EdSource Today: Continuing to collectively bargain over teacher evaluation makes sense

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.

California Progress Report: The “Target” Approach to Better School Meals

By Dana Woldow

Wouldn’t it be great if many good causes – feeding hungry kids, organic farming, fighting global warming, growing small local businesses – could all be supported by school meal programs? In a perfect world, every worthy goal could benefit from these government funds. In the real world, underfunding of school meals by Congress means that schools must prioritize to ensure scarce resources are going towards feeding the most kids, and that means student needs trump other noble causes.

How does this prioritizing work? Think of a field archery target; the yellow bulls-eye carries the highest score. Additional concentric rings – red, blue, black and white – encircle the bulls-eye, gaining in size, but lessening in importance, as they move further from the center.

via The “Target” Approach to Better School Meals.

NPR News: Online University For All Balances Big Goals, Expensive Realities


Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez, 22, lives on the edge of the Amazon rain forest in Tarapoto, northern Peru.

“Where I live, there’s only jungle,” Villanueva Sanchez says through an interpreter. “A university education is inaccessible.”

And that’s true in more ways than one. Villanueva Sanchez is in a wheelchair, the result of a motorcycle accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

She is now enrolled in the University of the People, an online institution that claims it is “the world’s first, tuition-free, nonprofit, online university.” It’s aimed at poor students around the globe who would otherwise not have access to higher education.

via Online University For All Balances Big Goals, Expensive Realities.

SCOE’s Facebook Wall: Solano County educators are preparing for new, rigorous academic standards for California school children

Solano County Office of Education’s Facebook Wall
Solano County educators hit the books last week to prepare to teach the county’s 64,000 students what will be the most challenging academic standards they have ever seen.

Standards define the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students are expected to learn at each grade level. The Common Core Standards were developed by states across the country to give schools consistent, clear education standards for English-language arts and mathematics as they prepare students for the demands of college and careers.

via Solano County educators are preparing for new, rigorous
academic standards for…

The Reporter Letter: Schools need Prop. 30

I urge all voters to vote yes on Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax plan, Proposition 30. This plan calls for a small increase in the sales tax and an increase in income tax for the wealthy. If the Vacaville Unified School District fails, people will leave Vacaville. No member of my family is a student or administrator in the district, and yet I ask all voters to vote yes on the governor’s tax plan in November.

Edward S. Stahl


via Schools need Prop. 30.

EdSource Today: Bills influencing school disciplinary policies head to governor

By Susan Frey

Seven bills that collectively will shift thinking on how California schools discipline students will likely land on the governor’s desk at the end of the current legislative session on Friday.

Although the bills no longer mandate changes that their authors originally envisioned, “they start to lay out alternatives to suspensions and expulsions,” said Erika Hoffman, a lobbyist for the California School Boards Association (CSBA). “These bills set out a process for how teachers, administrators, and school board members can begin to think about discipline differently.”

via Bills influencing school disciplinary policies head to governor.

California Watch: Legislators pass bill to use ‘intellectual disability’ in state regulations

Joanna Lin

A bill awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature won’t change any services, rights or responsibilities in state law. But to supporters, the bill’s changes are critical: It would drop the words “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from state regulations and publications.

The terms, which supporters of the bill say are outdated and offensive, would be replaced by “intellectual disability” and “person with an intellectual disability.” The legislation, by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, passed unanimously in both the state Assembly and Senate last week.

via Legislators pass bill to use ‘intellectual disability’ in state regulations.

SacBee Editorial: Take time to do teacher eval bill the right way

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, last year launched an effort to improve teacher effectiveness in California’s public schools. At the time, he said, “I believe the time has come for the state to ensure that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or ZIP code, have a fundamental right to be taught by an effective, qualified teacher.”

His original bill would have made modest steps toward measuring teacher performance meaningfully – including growth in student performance from the beginning of a school year to the end.

Unfortunately, like too many other late-session bills, Fuentes’ Assembly Bill 5 now has been gutted and amended so that it is unrecognizable.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/25/4755577/take-time-to-do-teacher-eval-bill.html#mi_rss=Editorials#storylink=cpy

via Editorial: Take time to do teacher eval bill the right way.

Dan Walters: Can Jerry Brown scare up a victory?

Gov. Jerry Brown spent much of last week trying to scare California voters into voting for higher taxes.

Brown, speaking to community college students in San Diego, promised “real suffering by you and really our whole future” if voters reject his sales and income tax measure, Proposition 30.

It’s a somewhat disingenuous argument, albeit a clever one, rooted in the poll-tested assumption that education is the single most popular state program.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/26/4757485/dan-walters-can-jerry-brown-scare.html#mi_rss=Dan%20Walters#storylink=cpy

via Dan Walters: Can Jerry Brown scare up a victory?.

The Reporter: Solano County officials to weigh fate of historic Fairfield school

The fate of Fairfield’s historic Gomer School remains unsettled.

In the coming weeks, Solano County Board of Education members will review recommendations by an advisory panel and are slated to take action at their next meeting, Sept. 12.

But the county Department of Resource Management requested that the matter be deferred until Sept. 25, prior to having the Solano County Board of Supervisors weigh in on the matter.

via Solano County officials to weigh fate of historic Fairfield school.

EdSource Today: Zoning exemption for Rocketship charter riles local districts

By John Fensterwald

Superintendents and school board members were angry last year when the Santa Clara County Board of Education approved plans for 20 Rocketship Education elementary charter schools over the next six years, in addition to the five county-approved Rocketship schools in the works or already open. Now, many are furious that the county board may assert its power to exempt a Rocketship school from San Jose zoning ordinances.

This wouldn’t be the first time a charter authorizer used its status as a school district  to grant an exemption to a zoning ordinance, although it is rare. Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified each asserted its right to approve a site for a charter school. However, this apparently would mark the first time that a county office of education would use the same authority. Some local districts claim county offices lack the right to tread on their turf, even though land use is a municipal, not a school district, responsibility.

via Zoning exemption for Rocketship charter riles local districts – by John Fensterwald.

Daily Republic: FSUSD school trustees schedule forum to discuss district elections

FAIRFIELD — A special school board meeting Wednesday will focus on two options to create districts from which trustees are elected for the November 2013 election.

The Fairfield-Suisun School District will shift from an at-large election to individual districts and has discussed the issue for more than a year. At the Aug. 9 meeting, while staff collected questions from board members for further clarification, the idea was brought up to invite the public to discuss the issue specifically.

That idea has turned into a public forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, where trustees hope to hear questions, comments and concerns from those in the crowd. No other items are on the agenda.

via School trustees schedule forum to discuss district elections.

Daily Republic: SCC continues to offer quality post-secondary education

SUISUN VALLEY — Despite rough times, Solano Community College continues to be the county’s best bargain for a post-secondary education for the approximately 11,000 students who take courses there — some to train for a career, others to finish two years before transferring to a four-year college.

The community college was established in Vallejo in 1945 as Vallejo Junior College. It was part of the Vallejo City School District until 1967. Its 192-acre central campus on Suisun Valley Road was completed in 1971 and opened with 5,000 students.

via SCC continues to offer quality post-secondary education.

Daily Republic: Solano County schools grapple with budget cuts, tough decisions

FAIRFIELD — School districts in Solano County continue to face tough decisions.

After a year that threatened popular programs, featured a school closure and cut student transportation — a cut that was partially reversed — school district officials face myriad tough decisions.

Parents, taxpayers and students stepped up to the plate to save the programs and schools they love.

The Save Our Athletic Programs of the Fairfield-Suisun School District, which was integral in saving athletics for the 2010-11 season, was taken over by a group of students passionate not about just saving athletics, but all extracurricular activities. The district will count on the organization and others to raise more money to keep athletics afloat next year after teachers took a pay cut in the spring to save after-school programs.

Other programs, such as Music Matters of Vacaville, aim to fill the music education gap for students and schools whose music programs have been cut.

via Solano County schools grapple with budget cuts, tough decisions.


Solano County Office of Education’s Facebook Wall
As the new school year commences, we would like to take this opportunity to provide you with information on two diseases that can affect your school and can possibly cause an outbreak: hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and influenza.

Reports of cases and outbreaks of HFMD have been increasing in California and elsewhere. HFMD is typically a mild viral illness that is more common among infants and young children; however, it can affect people of any age. The symptoms of HFMD include fever, sore throat, skin rash, and red spots or sores in the mouth. However, in rare occasions, complications like viral meningitis can occur. Symptoms of viral meningitis can include headache, stiff neck, fever and photophobia (light sensitivity). People with viral meningitis may need to be hospitalized.

AUGUST 22, 2012

As the new school year….

RAND Research Topic: Voluntary After-School Program Can Reduce Alcohol Use Among Middle School Children

There are many mandated school-based programs to prevent adolescent alcohol and drug (AOD) use, but few are voluntary and take place outside of class time. This cluster randomized controlled trial evaluates CHOICE, a voluntary after-school program for younger adolescents, which reduced both individual- and school-level alcohol use in a previous pilot study. We evaluated CHOICE with 9,528 students from 16 middle schools.

via Voluntary After-School Program Can Reduce Alcohol Use Among Middle School Children.

EdSource Today: State creating “time bomb” with cuts to higher ed

By Kathryn Baron

Give a dollar to California’s public colleges and universities and receive $4.50 back. Those are pretty good odds, and they’re not from one of those overseas scam emails humbly requesting your help in transferring funds. This more-than-400-percent yield is the net return on the state’s investment in higher education, according to California’s Economic Payoff, one of two reports released yesterday that make the case for a stronger state investment in higher education.

Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in the University of California and California State University and the state stands to make about $10 billion from today’s college graduates when they turn 50 years old. That’s after the students have paid back the $4.5 billion the state spent to help them earn their degrees, according to the study published by the Campaign for College Opportunity.

via State creating “time bomb” with cuts to higher ed – by Kathryn Baron.

EdSource Today: Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5 (teacher evaluations): Are they enough?

By John Fensterwald

At the 11th hour, the author of the bill to rewrite the teacher evaluation law has offered compromises intended to placate opponents and to qualify the state for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law. The latter may work, but probably not the former.

Key amendments to AB 5 that Assembymember Felipe Fuentes released Thursday don’t appear to have softened the opposition of organizations representing school administrators, school boards, and some student advocacy groups. They say the biggest problem with the bill remains: It makes every aspect of evaluations subject to negotiations with teachers unions, eroding power that districts assert they have had to unilaterally set the criteria and standards for evaluations. “EdVoice still strongly opposes AB 5,” Bill Lucia, president and CEO of the Sacramento nonprofit wrote in a statement Thursday night.

via Fuentes agrees to compromises on AB 5: Are they enough? – by John Fensterwald.