By Richard Bammer
Somewhat surprisingly, Fairfield-Suisun, Solano’s largest district with nearly 22,000 students, reported 492 homeless students, down from 785 in January; and Vallejo City Unified, with 139, down from 165. Notably, two years ago, Fairfield-Suisun tracked more than 1,100 and Vallejo City nearly 400, accounting for well more than half of the county’s homeless students. At that time, the county numbers reflected nationwide trends of highest-ever numbers of homeless students, at 1.2 million, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
Benicia Unified reported 50 homeless students at the end of the last academic year, down from 59 in January; and Rio Vista reported 52, down from 109.
via County homeless student numbers decline overall.
By Richard Bammer
The first major construction bids for the re-opening of Sierra Vista as a K-8 school will be offered in May and enrollments and the hiring of teachers may begin in January, Vacaville Unified leaders learned Thursday.
Meeting in the Educational Services Center, the governing board heard a progress update from Kim Forrest, director of instruction, curriculum and assessment.
Some campus modifications are already underway, namely the reconfiguring of the school’s parking lots, fire department access routes, and building and classroom access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, she noted in her computer-aided slide presentation.
via First major Sierra Vista construction bids set for May.
By Richard Bammer
Cash for a teacher training plan, a minor change to Superintendent Kate Wren Gavlak’s contract, and a facilities needs report are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for education services, will brief the five-member governing board about “educator effectiveness funds.”
Under AB 104, the 2015-16 educational omnibus trailer bill, which activates the education portion of the state budget, the district will receive some $430,000 earmarked for teacher training. The district’s plan, to be rolled out during this year and through 2017-18, has three areas of focus, Brothers will tell trustees. They include new language arts materials that will be used beginning in fall 2016; coaching for beginning teachers; and additional general staff development.
via Teacher training, facilities needs report on TUSD agenda tonight.
By Marilynn Anderson
Our recent rains have been the first such storms many of our youngest children have experienced. Even the older kids were taken by surprise and are talking about how they like puddle jumping.
It rained fast and then slow. There was a lot of thunder and some kids screamed.
Alondra Orozco, Grade 1, Alamo
I tried to get rain in my mouth. It’s not good to have a drought.
Logan Carter, Grade 2, Alamo
Last night I heard it raining and I was too sleepy in my bed to get up and look. When the rain stopped the next day, two raccoons ran across my friend’s patio to steal cat food. I think they had been hiding somewhere during the storm.
via Students share stories about the recent rainstorm.
By Susan Hiland
Officer Joseph Holecek of the Fairfield Police Department is hosting the third annual toy drive for Rodriguez High School to benefit the community’s children and along with the high school’s students is challenging other schools in Fairfield and Suisun City to join the cause.
“Last year we had so many toys they wouldn’t fit into my vehicle,” said Holecek, who will collect unwrapped toys for all ages through Dec. 17. The toy drive began Monday.
Toys can be dropped off at the office at the high school, located at 5000 Red Top Road. Once collected, they will be taken to Fairfield Fire Station 41 at 3200 N. Texas St.
via Toy drive Rodriguez High begins with challenge to other schools.
By Ryan McCarthy
Traffic and parking should be analyzed in the environmental impact report on the stadium planned for Will C. Wood High School, states a report the City Council takes up Tuesday.
Interested agencies, including the city, have 30 days to comment on the scope of environmental information to be included in the environmental review by the Vacaville School District for the stadium that would seat up to 4,000 spectators.
A report to the council states that spillover parking from events at Vacaville High School required a permit-parking system to lessen impacts to neighborhood streets.
via Council eyes traffic, parking in EIR for expanded Will C. Wood High stadium.
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Fairfield-Suisun School District officials will host community forums from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday and Tuesday to get feedback on the proposed master plan recommendations for the district’s schools.
The focus is on long-range, strategic issues relating specifically to the district’s educational and operational goals, according to an announcement about the forums. Suggestions are sought for the short-term and long-term facility goals within the district for the next 10 to 20 years.
via Fairfield-Suisun School District seeks feedback on facilities plan.
By Ryan McCarthy
Environmental review of a football stadium at Will C. Wood High School should consider directional lighting that lessens the impact to neighborhoods, the City Council agreed Tuesday, when members said a stadium without any lights made no sense.
“That’s calling for a whole different design,” Councilman Mitch Mashburn said, adding it would be “like building a car without headlights.”
Councilman Curtis Hunt also questioned a stadium without lights since the site could only be used during the day.
via Will C. Wood stadium would need lights, Vacaville council says.
By Dan Walters
The latest national academic tests tell us again that California’s public schools aren’t doing a very good job of educating more than 6 million youngsters.
Once again, California finds itself in the bottom tier, with New Mexico and Alabama, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests of fourth- and eighth-graders in math and English.
But if our schools aren’t performing particularly well, those who run the schools are again demonstrating their unmatched ability to make excuses for failure.
via National student test scores confirm poor California performance.
By Polymnia Hadjipanayiotou
Online app MyPath, offered through Brandman University, a private nonprofit university, is allowing students to earn a competency-based Bachelor in Business Administration degree at a low cost.
MyPath is utilizing competency-based learning to help students only learn what they need to learn rather than follow a prescribed series of courses that may not benefit them. Any professional and personal experiences that contributed to knowledge acquisition are taken into account and help accelerate the course completion process. In other words, the student is not expected to spend any time on concepts already mastered.
As Brandman University says in describing its innovative learning approach, MyPath’s competency-based degrees make it possible to earn a degree in less time and with less money. The University explains what makes its approach different on its official MyPath page:
via Brandman Us MyPath App Offers Competency-Based Degree.
By Alyson Klein
So, despite all of the political pushback to testing, we all know that annual tests are likely to stick around if Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in coming months. (That wasnt always a slam dunk, but now it basically is.)
But that doesnt mean that testing isnt—or hasnt been—an issue behind the scenes, as congressional aides and the top lawmakers on education issues—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va, along with the Obama administration—work through key ESEA issues.
via Rewriting No Child Left Behind: Three Testing Issues to Watch – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
If Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and gives states way more control over their own accountability systems, what will they do with it?
Pretty much the same thing they have been doing for the past four years, says a report released Tuesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers. More specifically: States will continue crafting and implementing accountability systems that build on nine basic principles outlined by state education leaders way back in 2011.
The report comes as staffers to all four major federal lawmakers on education—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash. as well as Reps. John Kline, R-Minn. and Bobby Scott, D-Va., are burning the midnight oil on a compromise bill to reauthorize ESEA that seeks to restore serious authority over K-12 policies to states. More on where all that work stands here.
via States May Get More Control Over Accountability. What Will They Do With It? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Theresa Harrington
The State Board of Education is set to adopt a new set of instructional materials and textbooks for kindergarten through 8th grade on Wednesday that incorporates what education officials describe as a pathbreaking approach to more effectively teaching English learners.
In January 2014, the state board adopted a set of recommended textbooks for math aligned with the Common Core, but it has taken nearly two additional years to come up with its list of Common Core-aligned recommended textbooks and other instructional materials in English language arts. This is in part because it has integrated English language development – which teaches English learners to speak and read English – into the English Language Arts framework that was adopted last year.
via California prepares to adopt materials for new English learner approach | EdSource.
By Irma Widjojo
A Benicia special education teacher had no idea that the friendships that began at the play ground during recess time would turn into something much bigger.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Tammy Harley, Mary Farmar Elementary School special education teacher.
Harley said it was the beginning of this school year when third grader KayLee Ingle came to her and told her that she has a surprise.
“She told me she’s been fundraising for my class during the summer,” she said.
via Benicia girl with a big heart raises money for special friends.
By Mark Phillips
Having just seen He Named Me Malala, a film about the life and work of teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, I wonder whether this young woman, gifted in thinking, values, courage, and public speaking, would ever have been selected for a gifted program in a U.S. school. In the film, she notes that her performance in some of her academic subjects is not that good. A few days earlier, Id received the book Failing Our Brightest Kids by Chester Finn, Jr. and Brandon Wright, a critique of how were failing our best students. Carefully skimming the book and the index, I saw only one mention of the arts and some musings about whether considering giftedness and talent adds to or “muddies” the authors topic.
Perhaps more muddying is needed!Discussions of the best and brightest seem to invariably focus on kids who score high in math and language testing, and some who also demonstrate high scientific aptitude. I agree that we need to do a better job of identifying these kids and nourishing the development of their abilities.
via Identifying and Nourishing Gifted Students | Edutopia.
By Tim Roe
Bob Heise might appreciate the baseball analogy … all the bases are covered.
Heise is one of 11 people who will be part of the first-ever class of Vacaville High School’s Hall of Fame. The former Bulldog and Major League baseball player was on hand as the school officially announced the soon-to-be inductees on Friday night during halftime of the Bulldogs’ football game against Vintage.
The class includes local athletic stars like Heise and Vince Newsome, who had a lengthy NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams and still works as the Baltimore Ravens’ director of player personnel.
via Vacaville High School reveals inaugural Hall of Fame class.
By Susan Hiland
Cleopatra danced in the darkness. A wolf was held hostage in the back of a minivan. Little Red Riding Hood disappeared somewhere – looking for candy.
The third annual trunk-or-treat and movie event at Rolling Hills Elementary School hosted about 500 children, parents and teachers Friday in the back parking lot at the school.
“My parents had the stuffed wolf and we weren’t doing anything with it, so my mom wanted my sister to be Little Red Riding Hood,” said Rikki Chouinard – or Cleopatra – a fifth-grader at the school.
via Rolling Hills Elementary hosts Halloween fun.