The Reporter: Vacaville Unified School District leaders consider increase in hiring

By Richard Bammer/

For Vacaville Unified School District leaders, the financial fallout from Proposition 30 may include not only restoring some pay to teachers and other district employees but also hiring 16 new part-time teachers for the primary grades, to ease the impact of student-teacher ratios in excess of 30 to 1.

The governing board, after hearing updates on the 2012-13 budget and labor group contracts, mulled the possibility of the new hires during Thursday’s meeting while, at the same time, generally expressed support for restoring furlough days and some pay for employees, even as the 12,600-student district faces $4 million more in expenses than revenues during the current fiscal year.

via Vacaville Unified School District leaders consider increase in hiring.

EdSource Today: New Assembly Education chair skeptical of plan for weighted funding


Any bill to change the way that California funds its public schools will have to go through Joan Buchanan, and that could present problems for Gov. Jerry Brown.

Buchanan is the new chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and, as she made clear in a lengthy interview with EdSource Today (see transcript), she’s skeptical of Brown’s weighted student formula, which he plans to reintroduce next year.

via New Assembly Education chair skeptical of plan for weighted funding – by John Fensterwald.

Daily Republic Letter: Take time to thank a teacher

Marilyn Blake, California Retired Teachers Association


If you can read this letter, maybe you should thank a teacher. The week of Nov. 4-10 was California Retired Teachers Week, and we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those teachers who not only taught us but shaped our youth.

Even out of the classroom, retired teachers continue to have a positive influence on our community. Retired teachers are probably our most stalwart volunteers. Here in Solano County in 2011, we totaled 26,732 hours of volunteer activities working for food banks, English language tutoring, cultural events, schools, museums, hospitals, police departments, churches and other community organizations. Using common values for such services, this is a gift of $534,680 to the community.

via Take time to thank a teacher.

The Educated Guess: Soon no more seeing red in state education funding, says LAO

Funding for California schools through Proposition 98 is heading up, even though the state’s general fund will still be facing a small deficit over the next couple of years. That’s according to the latest budget forecast released yesterday by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

“Our numbers reflect growth in Proposition 98 of a couple of billion each year, even more in the out years,” said Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor during a press conference in Sacramento.

Passage of Proposition 30 is a significant part of that, said Taylor, along with budget cuts in recent years and the state’s economic recovery. Proposition 30, which temporarily raises the sales tax and increases income taxes on the wealthiest Californians, is expected to raise the Prop. 98 guarantee by about $3 billion a year.

via Soon no more seeing red in state education funding, says LAO – by Kathryn Baron.

SCOE News and Announcements: Nominations are being accepted for Community Advisory Committee Special Education Recognition Awards

The Solano Co. SELPA Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is now accepting nominations for potential recipients of the 2012/13 Special Education Recognition Awards.

We are seeking nominations for individuals representative of three categories who may have demonstrated outstanding service to special education children and/or adults with special needs.  These categories include: 1) Individuals who volunteer or are employed by schools in one of our 6 member Local Education Agencies (Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis and Vacaville USDs and the Solano County Office of Education); 2) Individuals from the business or service community in our geographical area; and 3) Individual students. Nine special awards will be presented to selected individuals, as well as all nominees honored, at a CAC Recognition Awards Ceremony and Reception to be held here at the Solano County Office of Education on April 22, 2013.

via Nomination are being accepted for Community Advisory Committee Special Education Recognition Awards.

SacBee: Jerry Brown tells UC regents they need ‘heroic’ moves to save money, such as online courses

By David Siders

Gov. Jerry Brown prodded University of California regents Wednesday to pursue online course offerings to reduce costs, saying they must “get more grounded” in their approach to education.

The Democratic governor’s remarks came at a meeting of the UC system’s governing board, which postponed a vote on fee increases at Brown’s request.

Brown had said in his campaign to raise taxes that his initiative, Proposition 30, would avert tuition increases this year. The measure’s passage, however, does not prevent universities from raising other fees.

Read more here:

via Jerry Brown tells UC regents they need ‘heroic’ moves to save money, such as online courses.

Education Week: Obama Talks Fiscal Cliff and Education

So now that all the big talk in Washington has shifted to the fiscal cliff, the question for school districts is whether education programs will see cuts in any final deal to head off sequestration, aka the automatic, across-the-board cuts set to hit almost every federal agency early next year. Democrats and Republicans will have to come up with a deal to avert those cuts, and head off a host of tax increases, in the next couple months.(Confused by the fiscal cliff? Check out this post.)

President Barack Obama offered some hopeful signs for worried school districts during Wednesday’s news conference, his first since winning re-election, but still stopped short of saying he would veto any compromise that would cut K-12.

via Obama Talks Fiscal Cliff and Education.

EdSource Today: Analysis shows differences in teacher effectiveness in LAUSD


In Los Angeles Unified, novice teachers tend to be assigned students who are academically farther behind those assigned to experienced teachers. Before they depart, usually after only two years, Teach for America teachers have a bigger impact on students than that of other new teachers. And National Board Certified teachers significantly outperform other teachers in LAUSD.

These are among the findings of an extensive seven-year study of about a third of teachers in LAUSD by the Strategic Data Project, which is affiliated with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Researchers have conducted similar analyses of teacher recruitment, development and retention patterns in three dozen school districts and charter organizations nationwide, under work funded by the Gates Foundation. LAUSD’s report, which was released Wednesday, could become a key resource as the district and United Teachers Los Angeles negotiate changes to teacher evaluations and other parts of the teachers’ contract.

via Analysis shows differences in teacher effectiveness in LAUSD – by John Fensterwald.

EdSource Today: Look under a different lamp post for keys to fix our schools


There’s the old joke about  a man crawling on his hands and knees late at night under a lamp post, looking for keys he lost two blocks away, because, as he tells a police officer, “the light is better here.”

I was reminded of this story recently listening to a panel about what was wrong with the U.S. education system. Of course there are many problems, including the poor way we recruit, hire, evaluate, and pay teachers and our slow adoption of a true 21st Century Learning environment. But rarely does anyone mention poverty and income inequality in the U.S. We can spend all the time we want discussing “reforms,” but unless policy makers boldly confront poverty issues, many of our proposed changes – including ones for which I have advocated – will make a marginal effect on the whole system. We have become the man in the street looking in the wrong place because it’s the easier thing to do.

via Look under a different lamp post for keys to fix our schools – by John Fensterwald.

EdSource Today: Los Angeles tops nation in charter school enrollment


More students from Los Angeles Unified attend charter schools than from any other district in America – by far. The 98,576 students who enrolled in charters last year, up a significant 24 percent from 2010-11, were more than double the 48,057 students from New York City, the nation’s largest district and number two in charter attendance. Nearly one out of seven LAUSD students now attend charters.

The annual report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools found that 2 million students – nearly 5 percent of the nation’s public school population – enrolled in charters last year, with 610,000 on waiting lists. In seven districts, more than 30 percent of students attend charters, led by post-Katrina New Orleans, where three-quarters of students are in charters, and Detroit and Washington, D.C., both with 41 percent of students in charters. The numbers do not include students enrolled in online charters.

via Los Angeles tops nation in charter school enrollment – by John Fensterwald.

Daily Republic Column: Mayrene Bates – Books, reading important in Solano County

My second outing after my surgery was to attend the 12th annual Solano County Library Foundation Authors Luncheon. My doctor wanted to know how far I needed to travel. “It’s practically in my backyard,” I told him. Whether he gave me permission or not, I was bound and determined not to miss this wonderful annual event.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend executive director Dilenna Harris, her board of directors and a cast of volunteers that keep finding such good writers year after year. We hear so much about our society being a nation of nonreaders, but thank goodness, the library foundation doesn’t adhere to that premise. And the good citizens of Solano County continue to attend, purchase and read books. In addition, the foundation also continues to invest in great programs that promote literacy for children and families throughout Solano County.

via Books, reading important in Solano County.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Vallejo school board will hear how Prop 30 affects finances today

By Lanz Christian Bañes/Times-Herald staff writer

The Vallejo school board will hear today how the passage of Proposition 30 will affect the district’s bottom line.

Last week, voters approved the sales tax and income tax on the wealthy hikes, staving off millions in cuts to K-12 education in California.

The school board had trimmed $5.7 million from the Vallejo City Unified School District budget last school year in preparation for the ballot measure’s failure. The cuts included raising K-3 class sizes to 32 students from 28 and shortening the school year by five days through furloughs.

via Vallejo school board will hear how Prop 30 affects finances today.

Benicia Herald: Sex-ed materials back before BUSD board

By Keri Luiz
Assistant Editor

A review of DVDs that may be used in sex education classes for Benicia fifth graders resumes Thursday before the Benicia Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Board approval of three Marsh Media DVDs for the Family Life Instruction course — “We’re Just Talking! For Boys and Girls,” “We’re Just Around the Corner,” and “We’re Growing Up” — was postponed Nov. 1 to give parents more opportunity to comment.

via Sex-ed materials back before board.

The Educated Guess: Better quality of lifelong learning at community colleges

An increasing number of California’s community colleges are dealing with years of budget cuts by charging full price for personal enrichment classes that used to cost the same amount as academic courses. These classes run the gamut from pottery to conversational French to a slide show of someone’s trip to the Ukraine. They don’t provide any credits or lead to a degree and, until now, they didn’t have to meet any specific standards.

The Community College Board of Governors yesterday had it first look at uniform guidelines designed to ensure that students get what they pay for.

via Better quality of lifelong learning at community colleges – by Kathryn Baron.

SacBee: Jerry Brown asks to delay discussion of university fees hikes

By Laurel Rosenhall

For the second time this week, a California university system has postponed a vote on fee increases as Gov. Jerry Brown makes the rounds touting the success of his Proposition 30 tax measure.

University of California regents announced Tuesday that at Brown’s request, they yanked an item from today’s agenda that called for raising fees at several UC professional schools, including schools of nursing, business, law and medicine. Brown, who sits on UC’s governing board, plans to attend today’s regents meeting in San Francisco.

Read more here:

via Jerry Brown asks to delay discussion of university fees hikes.

Education Week: Fiscal Cliff Cheat Sheet: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

Almost as soon as President Barack Obama was re-elected, the coming fiscal cliff took center stage. Lawmakers and the Obama administration are supposed to solve the problem in a planned “lame-duck” session of Congress, which starts today.

That means we can expect to hear the words “entitlements”, “revenue”, “loopholes”, and “sequestration” a whole lot for the next couple months. What does it all mean for you, as a teacher/principal/superintendent/policy person?

via Fiscal Cliff Cheat Sheet: 10 Frequently Asked Questions.

Daily Republic Letter: Thank you for supporting schools

Sue Kinder

Green Valley Middle School

As a Green Valley Middle School teacher, I would like to thank the Solano County Retired Teachers Association for their dedication in promoting education through supplies, scholarships, support for teachers, etc. Sam Catania recently came to Green Valley Middle School and presented me with a check for classroom supplies . . . thanks to Sam and James Bates.

via Thank you for supporting schools.

Daily Republic: FSUSD School board discusses changes, could vote Thursday

FAIRFIELD — A bevy of changes for the Fairfield-Suisun School District were hashed out Tuesday and a vote could happen as early as Thursday.

Tuesday’s special meeting focused solely on a proposal to alter the makeup of several schools and boundaries over the next four years. District trustees will again discuss the possible changes at a regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The meeting drew a large crowd, which trustees were vocally thankful of as they weigh their decision. Several in the crowd spoke about the impacts of the possible changes and how they would affect children.

via School board discusses changes, could vote Thursday.

Attendance Works: Los Angeles Takes on Chronic Absence

In Los Angeles, a strategic plan to reduce chronic absence increased the number of students attending school regularly, led to partnerships with the broader community and saved the school district more than $1 million that would have been lost to student absenteeism. The work includes:

via Los Angeles Takes on Chronic Absence.

The Educated Guess: This time, groups get to say their piece on weighted student funding

Intent on passing school finance reform this year but open to revising last year’s proposal, the Brown administration held the first of three Friday meetings with dozens of school district officials and advocates last week on plans for weighted student funding. The outreach contrasts with the tack that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Department of Finance took last year, when they dropped a weighted student formula into the state budget in January, only to meet a wall of resistance from groups in the Education Coalition with schools facing potentially massive budget cuts.

via This time, groups get to say their piece on weighted student funding – by John Fensterwald.