Vallejo Times-Herald: Jesse Bethel’s newest principal says she’s ‘a high school person’

By Lanz Christian Bañes/Times-Herald staff writer/

It didn’t take long for Linda Kingston to realize she hated working at the district office.

She just missed the kids too much.

“I spent the last year looking for the right place,” Kingston said.

That’s how Kingston came to be the new principal of Jesse Bethel High School. Kingston is the third person to hold the position in three years, replacing Lloyd Cartwright.

Cartwright retired after a year at Bethel, following his transfer from his former role as the Vallejo High School principal.

via Jesse Bethel’s newest principal says she’s ‘a high school person’.

Vallejo Times-Herald: SolTrans fair provides bus route info for students of Vallejo schools

By Lanz Christian Bañes

Tanaya Stanfield isn’t too eager to start her freshman year at Jesse Bethel High School on Monday.

“It’s a really big school, and I’m new to it,” said Tanaya, a 13-year-old who promoted from Hogan Middle School — a school she still sometimes calls “Springstowne.”

But Tanaya’s mother Nekeisha Stanfield has another worry — how will she get her daughter and her son to Bethel?

That’s part of what the SolTrans transit fair hoped to address on Friday. The two-hour event at the downtown transit center, developed by the agency’s staff, was aimed at education parents and students about changes to bus routes and helping them find a way to school.

via SolTrans fair provides bus route info for students of Vallejo schools.

The Reporter: Vacaville Unified School District session begins

By Richard Bammer/

On the first day of school for Vacaville Unified, perhaps the Markham Elementary roadside marquee was a harbinger, in some ways, of the continuing changing nature of local and state public schools. Its message in English and Spanish read Thursday, “School Starts Escuela Empiezo 8/16 8:45 AM.”

Even busy and predictably upbeat Principal Manolo Garcia, greeting an early morning assembly of some 800 students, spoke in English and Spanish, saying, at one point, “Welcome” and “Bienvenidos,” over the public address system.

via Vacaville Unified School District session begins.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Reforms continue as Vallejo school district resumes classes

By Lanz Christian Bañes/Times-Herald staff writer/

There’s a cliché that warns of counting chickens before they hatch.

But for students at the Loma Vista Environmental Science Academy, it’d probably make an excellent lesson in mathematics.

“They will remember (this) for the rest of their lives,” Rita LeRoy said.

LeRoy, or “Farmer Rita,” is the farm keeper of Loma Vista Farm, a major component of the Vallejo City Unified School District’s newest academy, which opens its doors Monday.

via Reforms continue as Vallejo school district resumes classes.

Education Week: Bookshare Plans to Make Graphics, Math in Books More Accessible

More resources will be devoted to making math and graphics accessible to students with vision impairments and learning disabilities.

The U.S. Education Department just awarded Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bookshare another $32 million in grant money over the course of the next five years to convert more books into versions students with certain disabilities can download and read for free at the same time they are published on paper. Bookshare also will use the grant work on the trickier issue of translating diagrams and math texts into something easy for this group of students to visualize, even if they can’t see them.

via Bookshare Plans to Make Graphics, Math in Books More Accessible.

Education Week: Obama: Ryan Budget ‘Wrong’ Direction for K-12 Funding

Less than a week after presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address to warn the nation of the potentially dire impact of Ryan’s budget on K-12 funding.

The Ryan plan, which has been approved twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, would result in a $2.7 billion cut to Title I grants for disadvantaged students. That cut alone could result in 38,000 job losses, the White House reported.

“That’s backwards. That’s wrong. That plan doesn’t invest in our future; it undercuts our future,” said President Obama. “If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible—from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

via Obama: Ryan Budget ‘Wrong’ Direction for K-12 Funding.

EdSource Today: AB 5 (teacher evaluation bill) conflicts with federal NCLB waiver requirements

By John Fensterwald

Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes said that the passage of AB 5, the teacher evaluation bill that he authored, could “potentially serve as a key piece” of the state’s application for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law – and free up hundreds of millions of federal dollars to fund districts’ evaluations and other education needs.

Erin Gabel, director of legislative affairs of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, said that AB 5 would make a waiver application “more attractive” to the feds.

Sue Burr, executive director of the State Board of Education and adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown on education, said that key federal education officials have given encouraging signs that AB 5 would satisfy the teacher and principal evaluation requirement for a wavier.

via AB 5 conflicts with federal NCLB waiver requirements – by John Fensterwald.

EdSource Today: Charters and state at odds over Transitional Kindergarten

By Kathryn Baron

The first lesson that the state’s youngest students may learn is about the meaning of words – specifically, words in the state education code that may or may not give these children access to Transitional Kindergarten in charter schools.

The California Department of Education maintains that any charter school offering kindergarten must provide Transitional Kindergarten, or TK. “Our lawyers affirmed it verbally,” said Tina Jung, spokesperson for the California Department of Education. “To us, it’s clear that public schools and charter schools must offer Transitional Kindergarten. This is the law; it’s what’s best for kids.”

via Charters and state at odds over Transitional Kindergarten – by Kathryn Baron.

EdSource Today: Evaluation bill moves on to state Senate

On a 5-2 party line vote, with two Republicans opposed, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to send AB 5, the bill rewriting the teacher evaluation law, to the full Senate for a vote next week.

The bill passed despite uncertainty over state funding for a more extensive and involved evaluation system than is currently required. AB 5’s author, Democratic Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, was able to secure $60 million in one-time money to enable districts with low-performing schools to establish the new system. But the bill would leave it to the Legislature to figure out how to cover ongoing costs after the bill goes into effect on July 1, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t signaled whether he’s OK with adding at least $20 million in annual new education costs – the Department of Finance’s latest estimate of implementing the system.

via Evaluation bill moves on to state Senate – by John Fensterwald.

Daily Republic: David Weir Elementary School encourages pupils to seek college

FAIRFIELD — No excuses.

Those are the words resonating throughout the halls of David Weir Elementary School. They’re the words that decorate the entrance of the school and the walls of the classrooms.

“No excuses” has a lot meaning around the school, especially for teachers and administrators.

There’s no excuse for them not to help their students go to college, said Principal Martha Lacy.

“We, the school, have the opportunity to make college a reality,” she said. “There should be an opportunity for all students.”

via David Weir Elementary School encourages pupils to seek college.

California Watch: K–12: Cost of living can affect student achievement, study says

Bernice Yeung

Poor children living in higher-cost areas like the urban centers of California are more likely to struggle academically than their counterparts in lower-cost areas, according to research published today.

Based on a sample of more than 17,000 first-graders, the study by researchers from UCLA and the nonprofit Child Trends “provides important empirical evidence … that geographic variations in cost of living indeed matters for children’s well-being,” the article states.

Although there is a substantive body of research examining the relationship between family income and child development and educational outcomes, this is among the first studies to look at the effects of cost of living on academic achievement.

via Cost of living can affect student achievement, study says.

CDE: Ed Tech Task Force Recommendations

SACRAMENTO—Rather than seeing smart phones and other electronic devices as barriers to learning, educators should be using them as central tools in preparing students for the careers of the 21st century economy, according to a new report that teachers and other education experts prepared for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Torlakson created the Education Technology Task Force under his No Child Left Offline initiative earlier this year to begin setting the stage for a modern California Education Technology Blueprint. A plan for education technology in California’s public schools has not been thoroughly updated in more than a decade.

The 48-member Task Force includes teachers, superintendents, chief technology officers for school districts, and representatives of the business community, among others. This week, members submitted a memo to Torlakson that contains an initial look at the challenge and opportunities facing schools as they move toward modern education technology.

via Ed Tech Task Force Recommendations.

SacBee: Brown moves tax campaign to the classroom, downplays parks scandal

By David Siders

Gov. Jerry Brown, starting to campaign in earnest for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, labored Wednesday to put the state parks scandal and other potentially damaging developments at the Capitol behind him, hoping to refocus public attention on schools.

“This is not about any other issue,” said Brown, flanked by students outside New Technology High School in Sacramento. “It’s not about the environment, it’s not about pensions, it’s not about parks. It’s about one simple question: Shall those who’ve been blessed beyond imagination give back 1 or 2 or 3 percent for the next seven years, or shall we take billions out of our schools and colleges to the detriment of the kids standing behind us and the future of our state?”

Read more here:

via Brown moves tax campaign to the classroom, downplays parks scandal.

NPR News: Study: College Degree Holds Its Value


A new study shows college graduates have fared much better in the economic recovery than those without a degree. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that nearly all of the jobs recovered since the economic downturn have required a post-secondary degree. And despite the struggles of many recent graduates, workers with college degrees still enjoy a substantial wage benefit over those with only a high school education.

via Study: College Degree Holds Its Value.

NPR News: For Undocumented Youth, New Policy Carries Risks

by Joel Rose

The U.S. government began accepting applications for “deferred action for childhood arrivals” Wednesday — a program designed to allow qualified young people to study and work in the U.S. openly.

On New York’s Lower East Side, a line stretched around the block. Hundreds of potential applicants had shown up for free legal advice. Inside the church basement, dozens waited for help filling out their paperwork.

Millions Expected To Apply

“Half of me is saying, ‘OK, it’s real,’ ” says Mubashar Ahmed, a college student studying chemical engineering. “The other one’s asking, ‘Is it real?’ Now seeing it is actually believing it. Like, looking at all these people signed up to do it, I’m like, OK, this works.”

via For Undocumented Youth, New Policy Carries Risks.

KQED MindShift: Can Texting Develop Other Writing Skills?


As more schools begin allowing students to bring their own devices and actually use them in class, the debate around the value of “digital writing” — texting, taking notes on mobile devices, tweeting, etc. — is heating up.

Some educators (and even a linguistic expert) believe kids who text are exercising a different, additional muscle when texting, writing, and note-taking — and that skill is actually adding to a student’s growing and changing repertoire.

“Children know that when you’re in school, you do not use texting language,” said linguistics expert Susana Sotillo, an associate professor at Montclair State University in an article in the North Jersey Record. “…No one is destroying the English language; the English language just keeps changing. It’s not a good idea to present change as a negative aspect.”

via Can Texting Develop Other Writing Skills?.

KQED MindShift: Alleyoop Releases New STEM Program

By Jennie Rose

Alleyoop, the online college prep tutoring site created by Pearson, has added a group of new STEM-focused partners to its offerings. In addition to its current math programs, Alleyoop has added NASA eClips, National Geographic, Scientific Minds, Patrick JMT, Virtual Nerd, Adaptive Curriculum and Brightstorm.

Alleyoop uses the “gamification” model for its curriculum, which is targeted at middle- and high-school students. The site features real-time tutors, instructional videos, and a system described as “personalized, iterative, and adaptive,” according to an Atlantic article.

via Alleyoop Releases New STEM Program.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Young volunteers stuff backpacks for CC Sabathia’s foundation

By Rich Freedman/Times-Herald staff writer/

General Motors had nothing on this happy-to-be-here assembly line. And these “employees” worked for free.

Instead of vehicles, however, 16 young people stuffed school backpacks with pencils, pens, paper, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, pencil sharpeners and erasers.

And all 3,000 backpacks will be in the welcomed hands of Vallejo first and second graders at Monday’s first day of school, compliments of CC Sabathia’s PitCCh Foundation and the New York Yankees

via Young volunteers stuff backpacks for CC Sabathia’s foundation.

Education Week: Will Small Districts Even Bother Competing in New Race to Top?

T-minus 76 days until applications for the $400 million Race to the Top district competition are due. Will your district be applying?

Odds are, probably not.

Not only is the 116-page application complex and demanding, but the eligibility requirements will make it difficult for a majority of districts to apply.

More than half the nation’s school districts are not eligible to apply on their own for the Race to the Top competition for districts because their enrollments are too small. To apply, districts—or groups of districts—must have at least 2,000 students.

via Will Small Districts Even Bother Competing in New Race to Top?.