By Richard Bammer
The annual churn, or employment changes, including new hires and administrator shuffling, has been well underway in recent weeks and months in Vacaville Unified, which resumes classes Aug. 17.
In an email to The Reporter earlier this week, Janet Dietrich, chief human resources officer, reported 58 new employees: 52 teachers, one speech language pathologist, one school psychologist, one nurse and three counselors.
New hires and employee intradistrict shifts are a routine late-spring and summertime rite among California school districts, and, locally, some job changes have been the subject of meet-and-greet appearances during the last several Vacaville Unified governing board meetings.
At the July 13 meeting, Superintendent Jane Shamieh introduced the district’s newly hired associate superintendent for business services, Jennifer Stahlheber, who replaced Deo Persaud. After about one year on the job, he has returned to Southern California, Dietrich said.
The State School Attendance Review Board (SARB), an advisory panel to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), has developed a sample policy on attendance supervision that is consistent with state laws that became effective on January 1, 2017.
With the passage of Assembly Bill 2815 in 2016, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy. These changes are designed to help promote a culture of attendance and improve local systems to track student attendance by grade level and subgroup.
The new laws directly relate to the priorities districts must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP). Addressing chronic absence is included as a State Priority in the Pupil Engagement section of the LCAP template.
Source: Sample Policy & Administrative Regulation – School Attendance Review Boards (CA Dept of Education)
By Theresa Harrington
To help California’s more than 1.4 million English learners navigate through the public school system, the State Board of Education has approved an “English Learner Roadmap.”
The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly two decades to serve the one in four public school students throughout the state who are classified as English learners. It is expected to help schools in the more than 1,000 districts statewide to meet updated state and federal education requirements and laws.
Approved last week, the Roadmap aims to help English learner students and their parents know what courses, programs and services are available to them. It was created partially in response to the passage of Proposition 58 last year, which eliminated some legal barriers to bilingual education. Prop. 58 paves the way for all students to “receive the highest quality education, master the English language, and access high-quality and innovative language programs,” according to a news release.
Source: State Board of Education approves English Learner Roadmap | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today toured the Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School in the Robla School District to voice his opposition to proposed federal budget cuts that would harm this program and many others in California and the nation.
President Trump has proposed eliminating all funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers run After School, Summer Learning, and other Expanded Learning programs.
Nationally, his proposed cuts would remove $1.2 billion in funding. In California, the proposed cuts would take away $137 million of the total of $730 million spent on Expanded Learning programs, or about 18 percent of the total budget.
“Today we are shining a light on the wonderful Summer Learning and After School programs that engage, teach, and inspire 860,000 students in California each year,” Torlakson said. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could devastate Summer Learning and After School programs. These proposed cuts are short-sighted, counterproductive, and just wrong. As leaders, we should be searching for ways to help our students thrive, rather than blocking proven paths to success.”
Source: Torlakson Visits Local Summer Learning Program – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Jane Meredith Adams
A new review of studies from around the world found that students who were taught positive social skills at school reported higher levels of those skills months and even years afterward, compared to their peers who were not taught those skills.
The long-term benefits of social and emotional learning appeared regardless of the students’ economic or racial background or the rural, suburban or city location of the school, according to the meta-analysis published this month in the journal Child Development. Social and emotional learning is an organized approach to teaching students personal skills, including how to identify emotions, empathize with others and resolve conflicts.
Source: Social and emotional learning appears to provide benefits that last | EdSource
By John Fensterwald
After much talk and testimony at a nine-hour meeting, the State Board of Education made modest changes last week to its draft of the state plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Board members are confident the plan will soon be ready to pass along to the federal government for approval. Members of a coalition of two dozen civil rights and student advocacy organizations said the changes will do little to improve a plan that’s still vague and weak.
“After months of feedback and engagement, the current plan still doesn’t address the core issues that we know are absolutely essential to support high-need students,” Samantha Tran, senior director of education programming for the nonprofit Children Now, wrote in an email. “The state seems to be abdicating an essential civil rights role, and it’s disheartening.”
Source: State board, advocacy groups fundamentally disagree over plan for complying with federal education law | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Third-party programs that may lead to “back door” intrusions. Differences between Windows and Mac operating systems. Good advice about ways to safeguard personal identifier information online. Social media tips.
Those were among the questions and topics aired Monday during the first day of the first-ever Cybersecurity Summer Camp, a weeklong program for Solano-area high schoolers, at Solano Community College in Fairfield.
Some 20 students signed up for the free weeklong program, but only 16, all of them boys, showed up in the morning in Room 503 inside the campus administration building at the Suisun Valley Road campus.
Source: Cyber safety boot camp at Solano Community College
By Ryan McCarthy
Residents are sought to serve on the Measure J bond oversight committee that reviews Fairfield-Suisun School District spending of bond funds and issues an annual report on their findings.
The school district seeks a member representing a senior citizen’s group and a member-at-large from the general community.
Meetings are held every other month on the second Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Source: Fairfied-Suisun School District seeks bond panel members
By Ryan McCarthy
A change in grading policy that a teachers representative said would instruct students that they face no assignment deadlines has been tabled by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Nancy Dunn, president of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association, said the proposal would allow students to get full credit for work turned in the last day of a grading period.
Dunn also told school district trustees on Thursday that the proposed revisions to the policy effects teacher workload and require negotiation.
Source: Grading change doesn’t pass Fairfield-Suisun teachers test
By Susan Hiland
Briana Arbaca-Cervantes, a senior from Fairfield High School, will spend her summer navigating the nonprofit sector.
She was awarded a paid internship through a partnership between Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program and Junior Achievement, and will work on building her workforce and leadership skills.
The Junior Achivement is a volunteer-delivered, kindergarten through 12th-grade program to foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential.
Source: Good news: Fairfield student building leadership skills
By Danny Wagner
Healthy communication is vital to thriving workplace communities, and it’s essential for effective collaborative classrooms as well. Knowing when and how to express yourself, recognizing nonverbal cues, and being able to discern what’s important when someone speaks can be key factors in building interpersonal relationships. By practicing communication skills, students will get better at asking for help and expressing what they need, and over time they will develop the skills and confidence to tell you more clearly what they’ve learned in class.
In STEM fields, empathetic communication is a fundamental ingredient for success. Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a programmer, you must be able to take highly technical knowledge and describe it in a clear and simple way for others. If students learn to express ideas in a persuasive way and respond gracefully to reactions to their opinions, they’ll be able to promote innovation and social change through fields like bioengineering or video game design. You may not be able to see the outcomes of bolstering students’ communication right away, but the transfer to real-world situations will one day be undeniable.
Source: 4 Tools to Boost Communication Skills in the STEM Classroom | MindShift | KQED News
Educators in states across the country are seeing that current immigration policy changes are leading to increased chronic absence. As a way to reassure parents and students that school is a safe place for learning, states, districts and schools have posted resources as a way to encourage immigrant students to continue getting to school every day. We’ve complied a few for you.
Resources range from letters sent to school communities and families reaffirming anti-discrimination polices, to toolkits with tips for dealing with anxious students, to videos for parents on how to communicate with their young children on topics that are particularly difficult to tackle, such as bullying. Watch this video, in Spanish with English subtitles, from Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors.
Many districts offer fact sheets with answers to questions such as, ‘What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?’ and ‘If I am a parent or guardian and I am worried about being detained while my child is at school, what should I do?’
Source: Educators respond to immigration policies – Attendance Works Attendance Works
By Richard Bammer
The familiar melody of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” seeped out of speakers, and, hearing it, Dahmesa Bennett wanted to cry.
But she held back her tears and marched down, with 19 classmates behind her, into the Catwalk Theatre at Will C. Wood High to take her place on the low-lit stage.
As the students walked, more than 200 people in an audience of excited parents, relatives and friends stood up, bursting into cheers, applause, shouts, smartphones in hand, marking the beginning of Vacaville Unified’s 2017 summer school graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Source: A journey ends, another begins
By Ryan McCarthy
Out-of-state recruitment trips led to the Fairfield-Suisun School District hiring 18 new teachers, Assistant Superintendent Rob Martinez said.
Six trips in March and April to New Mexico, Michigan, Oregon, Montana and twice to Colorado cost the school district $25,419, according to a report that went before trustees Thursday.
Trustee Chris Wilson asked about the number of teachers hired because of the trips.
Source: 18 teachers hired after out-of-state recruitment
By Ryan McCarthy
A request to dedicate a bench in front of the Armijo High School library in honor of Andrew Lucas, a student who died in a 2015 car crash along Waterman Boulevard, won approval Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Lucas’ friends created the club called “Andrew’s Bookshelf” that sends high school students to elementary schools to read to students. The club will cover costs for the bench in front of the library – Lucas’ favorite place on campus – to honor their friend.
“He was an exceptional student who participated in band and athletics at Armijo High School. He would have graduated June 2017,” wrote student Alex Peppard.
Source: Bench at Armijo High library will honor Andrew Lucas
By Thomas Arnett
If you’ve followed the K–12 education dialogue over the last decade, then you’re probably familiar with the term “disruptive innovation.” Edtech entrepreneurs and school choice advocates sometimes invoke it as an indomitable force that will redeem and transform broken school systems. Meanwhile, people on the other sides of these debates worry that “disruption” is a flawed yet rhetorically powerful narrative used to rationalize K–12 privatization. Somewhere in the middle are skeptics who give consideration to the idea, but wonder if disruption is an oversold term that is likely to underdeliver on its proponents’ promises.
So how do we make sense of the tumult of opinions? What is disruptive innovation and is it relevant in the current debates about K–12 education?
In the mid-1990s, Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” to describe how large and well-resourced industry incumbents like U.S. Steel and RCA were toppled by upstarts like Nucor and Sony. Christensen’s 1997 best-selling book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, articulated a theory to explain this phenomenon and catapulted the term “disruptive innovation” into the popular business lexicon.
Source: Is Disruptive Innovation Driving K-12 Privatization? – Education Next : Education Next
By Claudio Sanchez
The new federal education law is supposed to return to the states greater control over their public schools.
But judging from the mood recently at the annual conference of the Education Commission of the States, the states are anything but optimistic about the future, or about the new law.
The apprehension reminded me of the 1989 education summit convened by President George H.W. Bush. Back then the goal was to persuade governors to adopt a set of national education goals. All but a couple of states bought into the idea of “systemic change” with support from the federal government.
Source: On Education, The States Ask: Now What? : NPR Ed : NPR
By Ashley Hopkinson
In the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, the new California state budget includes $5 million to address a shortfall of bilingual teachers, a shortage a new study concludes will continue following the passage of Proposition 58 and the expected growth of bilingual programs.
The new state law, in effect on July 1, lifted an almost 20-year ban on bilingual education and gives districts more flexibility to offer bilingual classes to all students. Under the old law English learners had to be taught in English, unless a parent signed a waiver to enroll their child in bilingual or dual language programs — classrooms where students are taught in English and another language such as Mandarin or Spanish. The goal is learning to read, write and speak in both languages.
The change came about because of Proposition 58, which voters approved last year by a vote of 73.5 percent to 26.5 percent. It implements the California Multilingual Education Act of 2016 and allows public schools to teach English learners and all students through multiple programs.
Source: New funds available to train bilingual teachers in California | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Like so many California school districts in summertime, with their 2017-18 LCAPs and budgets sent to county offices of education, Fairfield-Suisun Unified has posted a relatively light agenda for its Thursday meeting in Fairfield.
Trustees will hear several presentations at the outset, including a report, delivered by students, about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Under the consent calendar, items typically approved in one collective vote, governing board members will OK a $1.13 million contract with the state Department of Education for child development services.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun leaders to consider budget
By Richard Bammer
With new LCAPs and annual budgets sent to county offices of education, California school districts tend to face light midsummer agendas in July and August and that will be the case Thursday, when Vacaville Unified leaders meet.
In what likely will be a short meeting, concerned mostly with financial matters, trustees are expected to approve a revised 2017-18 salary schedule for classified, or school-suppport, managers, an unrepresented employee group that ranges from custodial manager and public information officer to director of maintenance and technology coordinator, with monthly pay, depending on which of five steps they fall under, that ranges from (all Step 1, or beginning, salaries, for example) $5,340 and $7,524 to $8,925 and $9,167.
There was no indication in agenda documents about why the salary scheduled was revised.
Source: Vacaville school trustees face light agenda Thursday