By Lanz Christian Bañes
The Vallejo City Unified School District has begun collecting money to help the Philippines recover from last year’s devastating typhoon.
“During the tragedy in the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan, we were thinking about how we can have our students involved in expressing their concerns. … We came up with this project. We’re trying to tie academics and heart, and raise the consciousness about service,” said Tony Ubalde, president of the Vallejo school board.
Called “Change for the Children,” the district is asking the community to donate some change (or more) for Philippine schools.
via Vallejo schools collect change for Philippines – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
It’s Will Berg’s first time. Aerial Wernecke is making a return appearance.
The two longtime Vacaville residents earned solo spots in the Solano Symphony’s Young Artists Competition. Both will perform with the symphony at shows Feb. 8 and 9.
Berg, a saxophone player, started playing piano in the third grade. He picked up the clarinet, then saxophone in seventh grade.
via Teens will perform with symphony Daily Republic.
By Reporter Staff Posted:
Vacaville High School will host two financial aid workshops, including one tonight, school officials announced.
Called Cash 4 College, the workshops are designed to offer seniors and their parents support and help with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application, said Heidi Garcia, a guidance counselor at the 100 W. Monte Vista Ave. school.
via Vacaville HIgh School offers financial aid workshops – The Reporter.
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville-area educators say the number of students being suspended or expelled from public schools declined in the last year, reflecting a statewide effort to keep children in the classroom and learning.
In Vacaville Unified, some 700 students were suspended and eight were expelled in 2012-13, the year for which the most recent data is available, according to the state. The district’s suspension rate was 5.2 percent, based on a “cumulative enrollment” of 13,592, according to numbers provided by the California Department of Education in a report released Wednesday.
Overall in Solano County, where nearly 69,000 students were enrolled in public schools, the suspension rate was 9.4 percent, while the statewide percentage (based on nearly 6.5 mill
via Solano County schools also see drop in expulsion rates – The Reporter.
By Ryan McCarthy
A teachers union challenge to music instruction provided by a Vacaville nonprofit – after budget cutbacks ended music instruction in the Fairfield-Suisun School District – has meant rescheduling instruction and the loss of more than 100 students from the program, the nonprofit says.
Wanda Cook, artistic director for the Young Artists Conservatory of Music, said the prohibition on instruction during teacher prep times about 30 minutes before and after school came after a Green Valley Middle School teacher questioned the music lessons.
via Nonprofit, union tangle over Fairfield music instruction Daily Republic.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The public got its first look Wednesday at Vallejo’s “road map” for its schools.
“We have been on a continuous facilities improvement plan,” said Mel Jordan, the Vallejo City Unified School District’s assistant superintendent for administrative services, at a town hall-style meeting at Franklin Middle School.
The topic was the district’s facilities master plan, what Jordan calls a “road map” for the district’s 25 campuses, and the potential bond measure that would fund a portion of the plan.
via Vallejo school district lays bond measure groundwork – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Reporter Staff Posted:
2014 Solano County Science Fair will be March 6 to 7 in Vanden High School, it has been announced.
Open to students in grades six to 12, the fair boasts two divisions, high school and middle school, and three categories: life science, physical science and environmental science.
Students with winning projects will be allowed participate in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles in April.
via Solano County Science Fair scheduled – The Reporter.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The Vallejo City Unified School District sharply lowered the number of students it suspended or expelled last year, the state department of education announced Wednesday.
The district’s suspensions fell by 25 percent and its expulsions by 21.4 percent during the 2012-2013 school year when compared to the prior year.
That’s 64 expulsions and 13,363 suspensions last year, according to the state data.
This surpassed California’s overall figures, which showed expulsions decreasing by 12.3 percent and suspensions by 14.1 percent.
via State: Vallejo schools cut suspensions by 25 percent – The Reporter.
By Tanner Higgin, Graphite
Chances are, if you have a smartphone or tablet, you’ve played Angry Birds. While Candy Crush Saga might currently top the charts, Angry Birds is the best selling app of all time. From an educator’s perspective, what’s exciting about Angry Birds’ popularity versus something like Candy Crush is that getting good at Angry Birds means skillfully – and often unconsciously – using conceptual physics knowledge. It’s something video games have been doing for years, but Angry Birds brought it to a mass audience, sneaking a bit of science into many students’ digital diets.
Here are five other games for the Angry Birds fan that do an even better job of integrating physics and problem solving into addictive, just-one-more-try experiences.
via Beyond Angry Birds, Five Apps That Test Your Physics Skills | MindShift.
By Bill Honig
The Common Core State Standards state what students should master, but they are not a curriculum.
Jumping from the standards to create lesson plans misses a crucial middle step of developing a coherent curriculum. The absence of this more complex work of creating a local curricular framework for the district, which informs the sequence and breadth of instruction (usually referred to as “scope and sequence”), will result in weak implementation of Common Core. For example, one of the math standards for seventh grade is to use proportional thinking and percentage to solve problems such as: “If $50 is 20 percent of your total funds, how much do you have?” That standard doesn’t answer the question of how much instructional time should be invested in helping students master this standard (actually quite a lot), what strategies will be effective, what should be the progression of learning and how does instruction correlate with previous units.
via Coherent and sequenced curriculum key to implementing Common Core standards | EdSource Today.
SACRAMENTO—The number of students being suspended or expelled in California declined sharply during the last school year as more schools and districts put into place measures designed to keep young people in the classroom and learning, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
Across the state, the total number of expulsions decreased by 12.3 percent, from 9,758 in 2011-12 to 8,562 in 2012-13. The total number of suspensions—either in-school or out of school—dropped 14.1 percent, from 709,596 in 2011-12 to 609,471 in 2012-13.
“Educators across California work hard to keep students in school and learning,” Torlakson said. “It can be a challenge to find the balance between maintaining a safe learning environment and giving young people the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. But were working with schools and districts throughout the state to do exactly that.”
via Significant Drops in Suspension and Expulsion – Year 2014 CA Dept of Education.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
Vallejo schools will receive a $400,000 grant to bolster reform efforts in the juvenile justice system, the Vallejo City Unified School District announced Tuesday.
The Sierra Health Foundation initially awarded a $75,000 planning grant to six organizations — including the district — in 2012 to develop programs to support “crossover youth,” or children involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
via Vallejo schools target ‘crossover youth’ with $400,000 grant – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Reporter Staff/Posted:
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will tour three Fairfield-Suisun Unified campuses on Monday, it has been announced.
“We are so honored to host Superintendent Torlakson’s visit,” FSUSD Superintendent Kris Corey said in a press release issued Tuesday. “I am eager to present a sample of the innovative, exceptional programs we offer our students and community.”
Torlakson’s first stop will be at the district’s Public Safety Academy, 230 Atlantic Ave.
In its second year, the PSA (grades five through nine) is designed to provide academics and career-readiness training for students whose interests are in police, firefighting, and emergency response.
via State schools chief to visit Fairfield – The Reporter.
By Karen Nolan/Posted:
Another report, another chance to lament the state of education in California. This week, it’s the Annie E. Casey Foundation weighing in with a look at the disparities between economically disadvantaged students and those whose families are better off.
According to the foundation’s Kids Count Data Snapshot on Early Reading Proficiency, released Tuesday, only 34 percent of fourth-graders tested in the United States in 2013 were reading at a proficient level — a figure that climbed to 51 percent for higher-income students and dropped to 20 percent among low-incomers.
Those numbers are, of course, worse in California, where only 27 percent fourth-graders were considered proficient, a figure that fell to 15 percent among low-income students and climbed to only 46 percent for higher-income kids.
via Karen Nolan: The language barrier – The Reporter.
By Dan Walters
A new front in the years-long political and legal war over the future of California’s immense and immensely expensive public school system opened this week in a Los Angeles courtroom.
The war pits the education establishment, which argues that more money is the best way to improve academic outcomes, against civil rights advocates and reform groups backed by business interests and wealthy individuals, which contend that structural change is needed.
via Dan Walters: Lawsuit opens new front in California’s school war – Dan Walters – The Sacramento Bee.
By Christina Samuels
It’s official: Joan McLaughlin has been named commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research, cementing the role she has held as an acting commissioner since July, after former commissioner Deborah L. Speece left in June.
McLaughlin previously led the Institute of Education Sciences’ research programs in early intervention services—early education programs for young children at risk of being identified for special education—and, before coming to IES, headed evaluations of multiple federal education, early education, and food-aid programs for the research group Abt Associates Inc. She will serve a six-year term.
via Permanent Chief Selected for Federal Special Education Research Center – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
President Barack Obama placed education at the center of a broad strategy to bolster economic mobility and combat poverty—calling on Congress in his State of the Union speech to approve previously unveiled initiatives to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds, beef up job-training programs, and make post-secondary education more effective and accessible.
“Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old,” said Obama, whose education agenda in his second term has shifted away from K-12 toward prekindergarten and college affordability. “As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own. They know we cant wait.”
via Obama Sells Race to Top, Early-Childhood Education in State of the Union – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Richard Bammer
A digital clock, hanging high on a wall in Phil Jenschke’s classroom, read “29 days, 9 hours, 57 minutes, 14 seconds.”
Early Saturday afternoon, with the seconds, minutes, hours and days getting fewer, tick by tick, that was the deadline for the Robodogs, Vacaville High’s robotics club, to finish its robot for entry into two regional robotics competitions.
Using power and hand tools, an arc welder, a milling machine and computer software, Jenschke and more than two dozen students were noisily amid “build season.” It is the six-week period in which they have to design, build, program, fabricate and test a working “bot” for the competitions, March 7 to 9 at Madera South High in Madera and March 13 to 15 at the University of California, Davis.
via Vacaville High School robot work launched – The Reporter.
By Alyson Klein
President Barack Obama is expected to use his State of the Union speech Tuesday night to try to pinpoint areas of potential agreement with Republicans in Congress—while making it clear he’s willing to exert executive authority and the power of the bully pulpit to push his priorities when lawmakers won’t cooperate. (That’s a theme he also hit last year.)
There have already been a couple of big test cases for this philosophy in education policy. When a divided Congress failed to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama administration issued a series of 42 waivers, giving states relief from many of the most onerous pieces of the law.
via How Will Education Play in the State of the Union? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By John Fensterwald
The teacher tenure, seniority and dismissal laws that the nonprofit organization Students Matter wants a judge to overturn are essential to create a “professional, stable workforce” and attract teachers into a profession with low pay and difficult conditions, a state deputy attorney general said Monday at the start of the much-anticipated Vergara v State of California trial.
via In landmark trial, both sides debate whether teacher protection laws fail students | EdSource Today.