A Blueprint for Creative Schools – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education)

SACRAMENTO—An arts education task force formed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is calling for arts education to be elevated to a core subject and be available to all students so it can retain its vital role in developing creative expression and critical thinking skills in preparation for 21st century careers.

“We have been extremely fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and creative group committed to helping our state rebuild its infrastructure for arts education,” Torlakson said.

“The picture they paint is one of a relevant, robust, and dynamic curriculum to keep kids in schools, narrow the achievement gap, and give students an opportunity to discover and develop their individual talents. But they also highlight the need to make certain all students have access to arts education so they can explore their own artistic vision,” he said.

via A Blueprint for Creative Schools – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).

Districts seeking reimbursement for Common Core test costs | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The state could be liable for as much as $1 billion per year in costs if a group of school districts succeeds in winning reimbursement for expenses associated with the implementation of computer-based tests in the Common Core and other new state standards.

Four unified districts – Santa Ana, Vallejo, Plumas and Porterville – and the Plumas County Office of Education filed a claim to classify the new tests as state mandates. If the Commission on State Mandates agrees, the state will be required to reimburse all districts statewide seeking to recover costs. The California School Boards Association, which is financing the effort, announced the filing Wednesday.

With Assembly Bill 484, passed in 2013, the Legislature replaced STAR, the testing system for the former state standards, with a new testing regimen called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress program, or CAASPP. It lays out a timetable for a series of statewide computer-administered assessments, starting this spring with the Smarter Balanced tests on the Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts that all districts must give.

via Districts seeking reimbursement for Common Core test costs | EdSource#.VMu7cGctHGg#.VMu7cGctHGg.

Teens earn right to perform with symphony – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

A 20-plus year tradition continues Feb. 7-8 as the first-place winners of Solano Symphony’s Young Artist Competition join the symphony in concert.

Violinist Amy Rich and pianist Timothy Liu are on the program for the first time. Vocalist Aerial Wernecke returns for the third time.

Liu is a senior at Armjo High School where he’s part of the International Baccalaureate program, the debate team and the student newspaper.

via Teens earn right to perform with symphony Daily Republic.

Why Even ‘Good’ Schools Benefit From Trying Fresh Ideas | MindShift

By Katrina Schwartz

More and more schools are breaking away from traditional school models to try new approaches that educators hope will engage students and stimulate a life-long love of learning. Often the most adventurous experimenters are in struggling schools where it is obvious that the status quo is failing students. Radical shake-ups at “high-achieving” schools are less common — it’s hard to see the need for change when test scores are high and kids are getting into prestigious colleges. But disengaged and bored students are found even at successful schools; kids are just more adept at jumping through the requisite hoops to achieve what they’ve been told will lead to a good life.


Greenwich High School in Connecticut is one such high-performing school. It is located in an affluent area with 14 percent of its students eligible for free and reduced price lunch. It’s also a big school with an emphasis on testing and Advanced Placement courses.

via Why Even ‘Good’ Schools Benefit From Trying Fresh Ideas | MindShift.

Draft of Obama Administration’s Student-Data-Privacy Bill Raises Questions – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

New federal student-data-privacy legislation being crafted by the White House would prohibit education technology vendors from selling student information and directing targeted advertisements at students, but the legislation remains silent on other controversial industry practices, according to documents obtained by Education Week.

Since President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that he would seek a new federal “Student Digital Privacy Act,” educators, advocates, and industry leaders have awaited crucial details that could reshape the responsibilities of both companies and schools when it comes to protecting students’ privacy.

via Draft of Obama Administration’s Student-Data-Privacy Bill Raises Questions – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

Governor proposes boost for career education | EdSource

By Michelle Maitre

Career education is projected to receive a boost under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, part of a larger push for workforce development training in California.

The governor’s budget proposal for 2015-16 includes $876 million for career technical education and other job training initiatives at K-12 schools and community colleges – welcome news for programs that saw course offerings cut and enrollments decrease over the past several years.

The governor identifies the programs as a key part of a larger, $1.2 billion statewide effort aimed at “reinvesting and reshaping California’s workforce preparation systems.” The effort aims to get students into training programs that are more closely linked to regional workforce needs and to better coordinate job training programs at colleges and schools.

via Governor proposes boost for career education | EdSource#.VMqIqWctHGg#.VMqIqWctHGg.

Thompson looks for schools, veterans to take part in history project | Daily Republic

By Ian Thompson

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, is looking for local schools to help to interview and preserve the recollections of American war veterans as part of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Thompson, who is a veteran, is also encouraging local veterans to take part in the project and talk about their service in the military.

The goal of the Veterans History Project, which was created by Congress in 2000, is to collect and preserve the personal accounts of veterans so that their experiences can be accessible so that future generations can hear directly from them and better understand the realities of war, according to the press release.

via Thompson looks for schools, veterans to take part in history project | Daily Republic.

More Homeless Children Would Qualify for Support Under Bill – Education Week

By Evie Blad

Advocates for poor children have renewed efforts to expand the definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development so that youth considered homeless by other federal agencies can qualify for federal housing assistance that is currently off limits to them.

Organizations are pushing for passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act, reintroduced Tuesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. A variety of child welfare organizations also supported the bill when it was introduced last year.

via More Homeless Children Would Qualify for Support Under Bill – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.

The Push For Coding In Schools – The Edublogger

By Dan Leeman

With Hour of Code and Girls Who Code rapidly gaining popularity, it’s easy to see that the coding movement is growing. Even President Obama recently gained attention for being the first President of the United States to write a line of code.

The reasons behind teaching students to code seem fairly obvious. Technology is a growing sector, and technology companies claim a shortage of qualified individuals for technology jobs.

Should Schools Be Involved?

But where does that leave schools? Should every student learn to write code in the push for STEM education?

This has been an interesting topic of discussion amongst the staff here at Edublogs. As an educational technology company, we’re invested in teachers and students, as well as the use of technology. We bring our own biases to the table as some of us are both former educators and technology workers and enthusiasts.

via The Push For Coding In Schools – The Edublogger.

Principal Spotlight: Positive Messaging for Better Attendance – Attendance Works

Principal Sarah Harris knows how to deliver the message on school attendance. She starts at the back-to-school breakfast the week before school begins at Vance Village Elementary School in New Britain, Connecticut. She emphasizes the theme again in her weekly robocalls to families and in the school’s monthly newsletter. She asks teachers to stress good attendance in personalized messages they record monthly for their own students. And she asks fifth graders to mention it they when make the daily announcements.

Messaging is just one piece of Harris’s approach to reducing chronic absence, an approach that brought the proportion of chronically absent students down from 24 to 7 percent in a single year. Amid the incentives, the data analysis and the mentoring lies a core principle: “Teachers must have the relationship to children and their families to reinforce why it matters to come to school every day,” she says.

via Principal Spotlight: Positive Messaging for Better Attendance – Attendance Works Attendance Works.

Benicia schools superintendent retires in June – ContraCostaTimes.com

By Richard Freedman

Janice Adams isn’t waiting until her final day as Benicia Unified Schools District superintendent in June. She’s already donated much of her business attire to charity — including one outfit she would rather shear than wear.

“I’m never going to wear this brown suit again,” Adams smiled. “I never did like that suit.”

Though she loves her job, eight years guiding the district makes it 42 years in public education.

“It’s time,” Adams said.

Besides, said Adams, 63, her husband, Pete, retired four years ago as a Vallejo elementary school teacher and his grin is apparently permanent.


via Benicia schools superintendent retires in June – ContraCostaTimes.com.

Fairfield-Suisun board looks at tentative priorities for 2015-16 school year – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

Trustees of the Fairfield-Suisun School District hammered out tentative priorities Tuesday night for the upcoming school year.

The action comes on the heels o Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2015-16 budget. Those priorities include:

  • Employee compensation.
  • Extracurricular school activities.
  • Science learning in secondary school settings.
  • Wraparound counseling services to include a variety of aspects such as social, emotional, academic and career.
  • Bilingual outreach and improving communication structure.

via Fairfield-Suisun board looks at tentative priorities for 2015-16 school year Daily Republic.

Vallejo students pick legal professionals’ brains – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

Growing up as the only daughter of six siblings growing up in a single-parent household in a seedy part of Richmond was one many anecdotes shared by a Solano County deputy public defender with about 80 students at Jesse Bethel High School on Friday.

“I heard shooting … I saw dead bodies (in the neighborhood),” she said.

She was already married and had a young child when she decided to go to law school, and eventually became a public defender.

Friday’s session at Jesse Bethel the first of three in the Law Academy Mentoring Program, which gives a chance for juniors in the Law and Justice Academy to meet and talk to judges, lawyers and other legal professionals.

via Vallejo students pick legal professionals’ brains.

Youth job training program still accepting applications – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

The deadline for applications for the next Yippie Yogurt Youth Job Training Program has been extended to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30.

Students who successfully complete the entire first phase of this job training program and meet the goals set each week are eligible to receive up to a $75 stipend.

The Phase I training program begins with a mandatory parent/guardian meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at Yippie Yogurt in Fairfield.

The program then progresses with classes beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s Adult Education School at 900 Travis Blvd., Fairfield, Room 30. Classes will continue on subsequent Tuesdays at the same time through and including May 5.

via Youth job training program still accepting applications.

Vanden teen wins Youth of the Year 2014 honor – The Reporter

By Kimberly Fu

With nerves of steel Thursday, four Vacaville teens shared painful personal experiences in a public forum in hopes of snaring a coveted honor, that of Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.

With cheers and squeals, the hard-won title went to Brienna Eaton, a 15-year-old Vanden High School sophomore and soccer player.

“I’m really proud to have been chosen,” she said, expressing surprise with the win. “And I’m glad my peers were so supportive of me.”

The bubbly teen, together with Julian Howard, David Quintero and AnaKaren Zanabria, had spent hours refining the speeches about a tough time in their lives and how the Boys & Girls Club impacted them.

Brienna spoke about a parental rift and a motor vehicle accident that critically injured her father, now healed. The accident sent her sister’s confidence, and her own, on a downslide, she said, and it was a hard thing to deal with. Then came the Boys & Girls Club in eighth grade to reel her back in.

via Vanden teen wins Youth of the Year 2014 honor.

Schools encouraging parents to immunize students | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

The largest outbreak of measles in California in years is prompting school officials to redouble their efforts to convince parents to vaccinate their children.

Sheri Coburn, the president-elect of the California School Nurses Organization, said the push for immunization is “one positive thing” to come from the rash of cases – now at 73 statewide – of the highly contagious and sometimes serious illness. The majority of cases are linked to exposure to the measles virus at two Disney theme parks.

“We continue to advocate for people to be vaccinated,” Coburn said, noting that three-quarters of those who contracted measles were “not vaccinated at all,” referring to the Disney outbreak.

via Schools encouraging parents to immunize students | EdSource#.VMfEO2ctHGg#.VMfEO2ctHGg.

School district schedules special meet for budget priorities – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

A special study session will occur Tuesday to review the governor’s proposals for the 2015-16 school year and what it all means for the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

District reports tout the budget as a “good state budget for public education” and “a positive year for education,” which for Fairfield-Suisun means projected Local Control Funding Formula revenue of nearly $162.9 million for 2015-16.

The improved economy has boosted the Proposition 98 minimum funding guarantee.

Proposition 98 passed in 1988 and established minimum funding for kindergarten through community college districts based on a set percentage of state revenue. As the state revenue increases, money into school coffers increases. This increase shows in the governor’s proposed state budget for 2015-16 as a $65.7 billion guarantee to California schools, an increase of $2.5 billion or 4.1 percent.

via School district schedules special meet for budget priorities Daily Republic.

Vacaville Unified’s LCAP an ever-evolving document, district leaders say – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

While some California school districts recently received below-average marks for their Local Control Accountability Plans, Vacaville Unified’s was not among them and administrators are already working on the next phase of an ever-evolving plan.

“We’re busy collecting data” for this year’s revision, said Danielle Storey, the district’s assistant superintendent for education services, who largely crafted last year’s plan and submitted it to the Solano County office of Education for approval by July 1.


 “The LCAP is never a final document,” she added. “It’s in constant revision of what we’re going to do over the years.”

A key element of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, LCAPs, which project what a district will do in the coming three years, lay out in detail what educators, governing boards and teachers must do to educate students and how they are going to measure results.

via Vacaville Unified’s LCAP an ever-evolving document, district leaders say.

Jammin’ in January a day of music, fun for young Vacaville students – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

If it were a feature film, Jammin’ in January, a daylong educational gathering Saturday for young Vacaville students interested in music, would be the polar opposite of the Oscar-nominated film “Whiplash,” about a student drummer who wants to earn the respect of a fearsome teacher.

As it has four other times, the event — held again at Vacaville High and geared for elementary and middle school students interested in exploring primarily new musical experiences — appeared to be relaxed and earnest but mostly edifying fun for everyone involved, the fifth- to eight-graders, volunteer teachers and parents.

via Jammin’ in January a day of music, fun for young Vacaville students.

Kindergarten Readiness Roundup enlightens parents – Daily Republic

By Susan Hiland

Dozens of young children took part in an exercise Saturday to see if they are ready for kindergarten and if not, how best for their families to proceed.

“This is an excellent program and I am interested to see where my great-great-grandson stands,” said Ursula Martinez of Fairfield.

Martinez brought her great-great-grandson Logan Whitt, also from Fairfield, to the Solano Parent and Child Education Kindergarten Readiness Roundup because his parents were working and not able to do so.

She wasn’t nervous if he would have the skills to be in kindergarten, but she was interested to see how he compared to other children his age.

via Kindergarten Readiness Roundup enlightens parents Daily Republic.