LATEST K-12 NEWS

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December 3 | EdSource

Some of California’s largest school districts are trying an unconventional tactic to help students re-engage in school after distance learning and boost their chances of acceptance into the state’s public colleges: by dropping D and F grades.

 

Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified, Sacramento City Unified, San Diego Unified and other districts are phasing out grades below a C for high school students. If a student fails a test or doesn’t complete their homework, they’ll be able to retake the test and get more time to turn in assignments. The idea is to encourage students to learn the course material and not be derailed by a low grade that could potentially disqualify them from admission to the University of California and California State University. Students who don’t learn the material, pass the final exam or finish homework by the end of the semester would earn an “incomplete.”

December 2 | SF Chronicle

Oakland school officials are now facing county intervention amid a $90 million budget shortfall. While district officials argued that they don’t need help balancing their budget, the state disagreed.

Alameda County schools Superintendent L.K. Monroe is ramping up interventions in Oakland Unified School District to help it address the deficit after raising concerns in a letter to Oakland school board members last month that the school district of 34,000 students wasn’t doing enough to balance next school year’s budget. Monroe said the district was heavily relying on one-time funds to pay for recurring budget expenses.

December 2 | EdSource

California this week officially kicked off its first attempt at a statewide education data system to provide trend information to help students and families with college and career planning.

The board of the Cradle-to-Career system — composed of 21 legislators, education leaders and advocates — met for the first time Tuesday and took key steps to launch the long-sought program, including appointing Amy Fong as its chairwoman.

December 2 | Sacramento Bee

When Gavin Newsom hired political consultant Garry South to work on his first campaign for governor, South tried to find an issue that would humanize the then-San Francisco mayor to voters who saw him as a privileged member of the Bay Area elite.

 

He learned from Newsom’s family that the mayor struggled with dyslexia, a condition that makes it very difficult for him to read. South thought he had the perfect story. Newsom, however, wouldn’t have it.

November 24 | EdSource

California’s landmark funding reform law needs to be fixed to help meet its promise of raising the achievement of underperforming student groups, conclude two recently published research studies.

While the reports’ authors and other advocates aren’t having major second thoughts about the Local Control Funding Formula, which has steered billions of dollars to designated student groups as intended, they point to new evidence that the funding formula has failed to significantly narrow the gap in achievement between targeted students — English language learners, low-income students, foster and homeless children — and those not entitled to substantial supplemental money.

November 21 | CalMatters

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature overhauled California’s public school financing in 2013 with the stated goal of closing the “achievement gap” separating poor and English-learner students from more privileged children.

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) gave local school officials much more leeway by eliminating most “categorical aids” that required funds to be spent for specific purposes. Somewhat contrarily, LCFF also gave school districts specific grants to be spent on improving education of kids on the wrong side of the gap.

November 17 | EdSource

In what usually is an accurate annual preview of the governor’s state budget released in early January, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting a double-digit increase in billions of dollars and percentages in 2022-23 in education funding under Proposition 98. That’s the formula that determines the minimum funding allocation for K-14 schools.

 

Schools and community colleges can expect an additional $20 billion in 2022-23, which will follow a record level of funding this year. Even the usually restrained LAO calls this good fortune “extraordinary.”

November 16 | LA School Report

It’s been more than a decade since California’s education system placed a strong emphasis on making sure educators know how to teach children to read. Reading experts and parent advocates say a lack of consistent attention to the issue since then shows.

Thirty-seven percent of the state’s fourth-graders score below the basic level on federal reading tests, and a recent report shows many districts are struggling to provide strong reading instruction to disadvantaged Latino students — who make up over 40 percent of the state’s K-12 population.

November 15 | EdSource

An intensive focus on reading skills. Tutoring. More mental health services. Cleaner indoor air. More teaching aides for English learners. Summer activities for more students.

These are some common themes in the plans that California school districts and charter schools have adopted for spending a huge amount from the latest round of federal Covid aid: $13.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed in March.

November 15 | East Bay Times

As the number of young people in California continues to drop, “save our schools” has become an increasingly common rallying cry among parents in communities facing the prospect of shutting some of their campuses.

 

In the past five years, public schools across the state have seen a drop in enrollment of more than 230,000 students, a trend that’s likely to continue, according to data from the California Department of Finance.

November 1 | SF Chronicle

Faced with the choice of cutting $125 million or a state takeover, San Francisco school district officials have come up with a plan to balance the budget, one that would hit classrooms hard and eliminate funding for long-standing student programs.

The city’s school board has just over a month to approve a state-mandated plan outlining a spending proposal that keeps district finances in the black next year. The district now faces spending cuts of more than 10%.

October 28 | Thousand Oaks Acorn

Public schools across Ventura County are reporting far fewer students in their ranks since the first pandemic-related lockdown went into effect in March 2020, and Conejo Valley Unified is no exception.

According to a count taken this month, CVUSD is down to fewer than 17,000 students—a figure not seen since the early 1990s.

The coronavirus has accelerated what has been a 15-year trend in Conejo Valley Unified. The 16,800 students recorded in the district’s latest count represent a 4% decrease from last year and an 8% drop from the start of the 2019-20 school year.

October 27 | EdSource

A growing number of California students are participating in dual enrollment courses — college classes taken while still in high school.

But making dual enrollment courses equitable and accessible to even more students hinges on a variety of factors. Experts say these include hiring more qualified instructors, ensuring that course offerings can be used for college credit and making sure students have access to the kinds of resources and support that are available to other college students.

October 22 | Orange County Register

Even though California is awash in money, with surprising budget surpluses and massive infusions of federal funds, school districts in the state could soon be facing a severe budget crunch.

The reason is enrollment. It’s dropping like a rock. According to numbers released by the state in May, the state’s K-12 public school districts lost 160,000 students in the 2020-21 academic year, a decline of nearly 3%. Kindergarten numbers were ominously bad, with enrollment declining by 12%. The drop in kindergarten enrollment was 20% among African American students.

October 21 | Los Angeles Times

Skyla Fuentes, a junior at Mendez High School in Boyle Heights, is intent on becoming a lawyer — she dreams of attending UC San Diego and then Pepperdine for law school.

But during the fall of her sophomore year, she and her grandparents fell ill with COVID-19. For weeks, she lay next to her grandfather soothing him as he struggled to breathe, praying for him not to die. It became hard just to wake up in the morning and she often missed her online classes. She went from earning A’s and Bs to failing all of her subjects.

October 21 | Sacramento Bee

It’s almost college application season. Next month, thousands of seniors in the Sacramento area will apply for fall 2022 admission to one or more University of California campuses.

 

Many of them can take comfort that their high schools have a good track record.

 

About one of every eight Sacramento-area public and private high school graduates were admitted into a college in the University of California system during fall 2020, according to the most recent UC data.

October 21 | Los Angeles Daily News

The Los Angeles Unified School District said on Thursday, Oct. 21, that its search for a permanent superintendent has entered a “new phase” with the release of a community engagement report detailing the opinions of some 30,000 students, parents, staff and community members on what they’re looking for in a new district leader.

 

According to a district release, respondents had “clear preferences” for qualifications — including experience as a teacher and/or administrator (90% of those surveyed); experience working in and with diverse communities (90%); and experience managing a very large organization (89%).

October 20 | Sacramento Bee

California might have to forfeit tens of millions of dollars in pandemic relief money meant for schools if the department in charge of distributing funds does not strengthen its oversight of spending, a state auditor says.

 

The audit, released Tuesday, found that California might have to return up to $160 million in federal aid if the state’s Department of Education, referred to as “Education” by the auditor, continues to disburse and monitor federal funds used by K-12 schools the way it is doing it now.

October 20 | CalMatters

Big things are obviously happening in California’s public school system these days and they will certainly affect not only the lives of nearly 6 million K-12 students but the state’s economic and social wellbeing for decades to come.

 

Unfortunately, however, it’s very unclear how they intertwine and whether the long-term effects will be positive or negative.

October 19 | CalMatters

California school districts have two choices: Bite the bullet and make budget cuts now, or delay them and face even more painful decisions.

That was the ultimatum Michael Fine, CEO of the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, a school finance agency, delivered to district leaders last week.

But warnings have been popping up everywhere. The state is hiring a fiscal consultant to help San Francisco Unified — which is currently facing a $116 million shortfall — figure out how to slash 13% of its $1 billion annual budget. Hayward Unified is considering closing an elementary school — one that primarily serves immigrant families — to plug budget gaps. West Contra Costa Unified, confronting a possible $30 million deficit, says it may have to lay off teachers.

October 18 | EdSource

The unexpected drop in statewide school enrollment last year of 160,000 students may prove to be a blip, ready to rebound as the coronavirus recedes. Or that one-year 2.6% drop could be an oversize harbinger of what demographers are predicting will be a decade-long enrollment decline in California.

The fiscal crisis may be a migraine now or a mounting headache later; the answer is not if, but when, according to Michael Fine, the state’s respected fiscal worrywart. He said districts would be wise to start planning now, and take action starting next year, to deal with what for many districts will be a substantial loss of revenue from a system that ties funding to the number of kids who show up to class every day.

October 15 | Los Angeles Times

The results from the latest nationwide tests of student proficiency are grim. Downright depressing. For the first time in the 50-year history of these tests, the scores of 13-year-olds fell in both reading and math. Scores for 9-year-olds showed no improvement compared with 2012.

The gap in scores between white students and Black and Latino students grew.

Nor can anyone blame the pandemic for this. The tests were administered in very early 2020, before the pandemic shut down most in-person schooling.

October 14 | EdSource

Diverting funds intended for California’s high-needs students for other spending “dampens” the potential to significantly close the achievement gap between high-poverty and low-poverty students, new research from the Public Policy Institute of California has found.

School districts on average are directing only 55 cents of every dollar of extra funding from the Local Control Funding Formula to the schools that high-needs students who generate the money attend, research fellow Julien Lafortune concluded in a policy brief and full report.

October 11 | CalMatters

As California’s population swelled in the post-World War II era, thanks to a flood of newcomers from other states and the postwar baby boom, it had a major impact on the state’s colleges.

New Californians, many of them veterans seeking education under the GI bill, and, eventually, the baby boomers sought college degrees as tickets to prosperous futures. Meanwhile, the state’s economy needed educated workers as it evolved from agriculture and other resource-based sectors into manufacturing, logistics and technology.

October 1 | CalMatters

In another aggressive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure schools remain open, Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced a vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and older, making California the first state in the nation to require students to be fully vaccinated for in-person instruction.

The mandate would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations, which includes mumps, measles and rubella. Newsom issued this order in the aftermath of similar mandates from the state’s largest districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified.

September 28 | Los Angeles Times

Enrollment in the Los Angeles Unified School District has dropped by more than 27,000 students since last year, a decline of close to 6% — a much steeper slide than in any recent year.

The comparison is based on an annual count referred to as “norm day,” the fifth Friday of every new school year, Sept. 17 this year. Last year’s enrollment total for pre-school through 12th grade was 466,229. This year’s figure for that same date is 439,013, according to data provided by L.A. Unified that will be presented to the school board Tuesday.

September 27 | EdSource

A month into in-person learning for most California schools, some districts are reporting soaring rates of absenteeism due to stay-at-home quarantines, fear of Covid and general disengagement from school.

Even districts like Elk Grove and Long Beach that had relatively high attendance before Covid have seen big increases in chronic absenteeism — students who have missed more than 10% of school days.

September 21 | The Education Trust

The school year is underway — and educators, leaders and advocates are looking for data to make the most of learning time and to understand where to best allocate resources. Recent research and newly released state assessment results suggest that the interruption of in-person schooling has led to unfinished learning — lessons that students missed or didn’t master due to distance learning and COVID-19 — for many students, especially those who were underserved before the pandemic.

The Education Trust, and several of our civil rights, social justice, disability rights, and education advocacy partners, continue to advocate for the use of statewide assessments to shine a light on inequities and to allocate critical resources to students who need them the most. While there has been some pushback, the insights that test-based data provide will help states implement more equitable approaches to serving students, especially as they look to disseminate federal stimulus money.

September 14 | Fresno Bee

Three of the 10 best California schools for teaching reading are in Fresno County, according to a new report card from the California Reading Coalition.

Kingsburg Elementary Charter (No. 3), Clovis Unified (No. 4), and Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified (No. 8) were in the state’s Top 10, the CRC report said.

Fresno Unified ranked No. 100 and Central Unified came in at No. 89.

September 10 | EdSource

The “Smarter Balanced” standardized tests in math and English language arts that California students will take in the spring to measure their academic progress will have fewer questions and take less time than the pre-Covid versions. But the test results to parents won’t provide as much information as in the past.

On Thursday, the State Board of Education approved the shorter test that the California Department of Education recommended. The shorter version will give districts more flexibility in scheduling the tests, free up time for more instruction and reduce the potential for internet glitches with fully online test, the department argued in making its case.

September 7 | Los Angeles Times

Over the past year and a half, educators and policymakers fretted over the “learning loss” suffered by students because of remote education, which appeared to be affecting low-income, Black and Latino students the most. Once they returned to physical classrooms, how could we best bring them up to par?

But now a faction of educators and others are rejecting both the term and the idea that there is a serious academic problem. They come from some teachers’ unions, including the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, as well as from some social scientists and other education advocates.

September 6 | EdSource

Responding to districts’ complaints, the Newsom administration and legislative leaders are proposing revising requirements for educating and funding quarantined students through independent study this year. The changes will help but probably not fully satisfy school districts beleaguered by Covid outbreaks.

Among the significant revisions, the proposed legislation will make it clear that districts can:

  • Provide remote learning to quarantined students.

  • Receive funding starting from the first day of a student’s quarantine.

  • Be eligible for funding without providing instruction during students’ quarantine if they are experiencing a staff shortage. However, they will qualify for this exception only after proving they exhausted strategies to staff positions and are left with no option but to forgo providing short-term learning.

August 25 | CalMatters

Heather Christiansen got an email on Aug. 14 from her son’s school, saying her 10-year-old had been in contact with a classmate who tested positive for COVID-19.

As required by California health guidelines, Christiansen’s son Kayden would have to quarantine at home for 10 days. 

 

“It was only the fourth day of school,” she said. “He’s missing out on not only his friends, but he’s stressing out about falling behind.”

August 24 | The 74

For a few years in the mid-2010s, there was no education issue more controversial than the newfangled academic standards known as the Common Core. Dozens of states, spurred on by an enthusiastic Obama administration, adopted the reform in the hopes of dramatically improving instructional quality, while a counter-movement led mostly by Republicans rejected it as federal coercion.

A little more than a decade after the fight over the standards began, the vast majority of U.S. students still learn from curricula that are at least nominally aligned with Common Core. But a wave of research released over the last few years suggests that, far from being either a K-12 panacea or a domineering exercise in Washington overreach, the huge shift in policy had a relatively meager impact on student achievement, and may not have altered teacher practices nearly as much as was originally thought.

August 23 | San Francisco Examiner

Havah Kelley was more than ready to get her son back to in-person school. Learning through a screen for over a year intensified difficulties with reading for her son, who has dyslexia and is now in fifth grade at Sunnyside Elementary.

 

But instead of finding revamped services coming out of a challenging year, the first week back was another disappointment in her journey with the San Francisco Unified School District’s special education services.

August 23 | EdSource

A year ago, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom promised school districts they would be held harmless financially for the 2020-21 school year for a drop in student attendance. Lawmakers recognized the havoc that the pandemic would create in tracking student daily attendance, the basis for their funding, as schools went in and out of distance learning.

 

As it turned out, though, the state’s hold-harmless policy has ended up harming many primarily small districts that saw unpredictable increases in enrollment last year. The numbers for each district were relatively small — in the dozens in most cases — but the financial impact on them was disproportionately large.

August 19 | CalMatters

While many people complain about the ideological biases in the California Department of Education’s proposal to revolutionize the state mathematics curriculum, that’s not the main problem. This plan has fundamental issues of concern and will do no child any good.

It is irresponsible to make the entire state a laboratory for very controversial educational theories, and to do this without any review by the mathematics community. Public education should equip all students with logic and abstract-thinking skills. Even if you don’t remember the quadratic formula, the process of learning it made you a clearer thinker. That’s how the entire world teaches math. 

August 12 | AP News

California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The new policy applies to both public and private schools and will affect more than 800,000 employees, including about 320,000 public school teachers and a host of support staff such as cafeteria workers and cleaners, the state Department of Public Health said. It will also apply to school volunteers.

August 5 | EdSource

Dyslexia is the most common cause of difficulties in reading, writing and spelling. Unfortunately, it often goes undetected and therefore unaddressed in early grades, leading to more complex learning challenges later. This year, a bill that would require educators to screen students for risk of dyslexia sailed through the Senate. There was no vote in opposition.

 

However, when the bill got to the Assembly, the head of the education committee refused to hold a hearing. The result? No further action on the bill this year. Senator Portantino, the author of the bill, SB 237, blasted the delay in a press release.

August 1 | Ed100

Dyslexia is the most common cause of difficulties in reading, writing and spelling. Unfortunately, it often goes undetected and therefore unaddressed in early grades, leading to more complex learning challenges later. This year, a bill that would require educators to screen students for risk of dyslexia sailed through the Senate. There was no vote in opposition.

 

However, when the bill got to the Assembly, the head of the education committee refused to hold a hearing. The result? No further action on the bill this year. Senator Portantino, the author of the bill, SB 237, blasted the delay in a press release.

July 30 | Berkeleyside

Berkeley Unified School District has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming that district failed to identify students with reading disorders and provide necessary accommodations for them. Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, Berkeley schools will need to offer universal screening for reading disorders and implement new programs for teaching reading. The changes will be implemented over the next three years.

“I have represented individual students in BUSD who struggled to learn to read and came to believe there were systemic issues within BUSD’s existing programs that could not be solved on a case-by-case basis,” said Deborah Jacobson, an attorney with Jacobson Education Law who represented four students and their parents in the case.

July 29 | Los Angeles Times

All students and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District will be required to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccinations status, under a new district policy announced Thursday.

The district had previously required such testing only for those who are unvaccinated.

The announcement was made by interim Supt. Megan K. Reilly in a letter sent to parents.

July 26 | CalMatters

The modern world runs on mathematics.

From balancing a checkbook to calculating rocket trajectories, human beings rely on their ability to understand and use mathematical tools, and we expect our schools to develop those tools in their young charges.

But how and when?

July 21 | Stockton Record

A San Joaquin County civil grand jury has found the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees have failed as district leaders and will likely continue to do so. 

A scathing 33-page report released by the 2020-21 grand jury says Stockton Unified trustees are the direct reason for what's been called the district's "revolving door" of superintendents.

July 21 | Los Angeles Times

The message to schools from top brass, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, was clear. Summer programs in 2021 should be robust. They should reach as many students as possible. And above all else, they should fun.

To make it all happen, California school districts received a collective $4.6 billion from the state in early March to address learning gaps widened by the pandemic and to prepare students mentally and emotionally for their return to campuses in the fall.

But despite the funding surge that has allowed a vast majority of California school districts to open this summer, the size and scope of many programs have been limited by teacher and staffing shortages, the inability of districts to ramp up programs fast enough, and families’ desire for a break amid ongoing safety concerns.

July 20 | Sacramento Bee

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday to spend $6 billion over the next three years expanding broadband access throughout the state, prioritizing unserved, underserved and rural communities.

Much of the money will fund increased connectivity for rural communities with little to no network access and public spaces like schools and libraries with less access to high-bandwidth internet.

Newsom signed the broadband bill into law surrounded by students at Traver Joint Elementary School in Tulare County.

July 14 | Associated Press

When California told school districts they must still require masks for students and teachers indoors, the state left no room for doubt about its enforcement: If students refused, schools were to send them home.

 

But hours after that announcement on Monday, public health officials in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration abruptly changed course and said school districts would decide for themselves how to enforce the mask mandate.

July 13 | EdSource

The state’s K-12 and higher education systems will receive a record-level influx of new money.

K-12 Overall Spending: 

  • TK-12 funding from all sources: $121.7 billion (average $21,152 per student)

  • Local Control Funding Formula: $4.4 billion increase to $66.7 billion, through 5.07% “super COLA”

  • Budget reserves: $25.2 billion (12.8% of General Fund)

  • Prop.98 reserve: $4.5 billion (4.8% of funding)

  • Deferrals: All $11 billion in late payments to K-12 schools, community colleges are repaid

July 7 | EdSource

With the pandemic still reverberating across California, districts must offer students an independent study option this fall, but with improvements to what was offered during the shutdown and pre-pandemic.

After a year of cumbersome screen time, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other lawmakers have said that schools are expected to fully reopen for in-person instruction this fall. But some parents and students, especially those who are medically vulnerable, aren’t ready to return to “normal.”

July 1 | EdSource

During the height of the pandemic, almost 35,000 California families filed an affidavit with the state to open a private home school. 

That’s more than double the number of private school affidavits filed for the 2018-19 school year for schools with five or fewer students — the number that the state Department of Education says is likely to be a home school. Another 3,215 people filed private school affidavits to operate schools with six or more students. 

June 21 | Education Week

Young children have been among those hardest hit by academic disruptions during the pandemic, and experts worry that already overwhelmed early-childhood-education teachers will grapple with a rocky transition as those students enter or return to school this fall.

That’s the consensus of a new research analysis by 11 university and independent research groups tracking education for children ages 0-8 (roughly preschool through grade 2) during the pandemic. The report collected data from 16 national studies, 45 state studies, and 15 local studies.

June 18 | Los Angeles Times

San Bernardino County school officials failed to provide proper oversight of millions of dollars meant for the neediest students, including English learners, students from low-income families and foster students, according to a finding by the

 

California Department of Education that advocates hope will lead to an infusion of much-needed help for these children.

The finding came in response to a complaint filed last year by the ACLU of Southern California and Public Advocates Inc. on behalf of two community groups.

June 14 | Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers are still negotiating a final budget deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom, but they passed a placeholder budget bill Monday that ensures they continue to be paid in the meantime.

The California Constitution requires that lawmakers pass a budget by Tuesday or face pay suspensions. The Constitution doesn’t require Newsom to sign the budget yet, however, meaning lawmakers can continue negotiating with the Democratic governor ahead of the July 1 start of the fiscal year.

June 14 | EdSource

The Legislature passed a state budget Monday that is a placeholder to satisfy a June 15 constitutional deadline and enables lawmakers to keep getting paid. The Senate passed it 30-8 and the Assembly 57-15 after about an hour of discussion in each chamber.

The final budget will come sometime before July 1, when lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom settle their differences. Even then, it may take through the summer to complete action on several trailer bills that will detail how the appropriated funding will be spent.

June 9 | EdSource

California school districts and charter schools will soon begin to spend record state funding along with more than $50 billion in state and federal Covid relief funding they are receiving this year. A website that’s intended to let the public see how they are using some of that money won’t be up anytime soon.

That’s frustrating for a state senator and groups advocating for low-income students who are criticizing the unexplained delays in creating a public “web portal.” They say state officials aren’t taking transparency in state education funding seriously enough.

May 19 | EdSource

Last September, all school districts and charter schools completed a learning continuity plan in which they were required to provide extensive information on how they planned to use federal Covid relief and state funding to address learning gaps caused by the pandemic and meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

An intensive review of 48 districts’ plans by four student advocacy nonprofit organizations, released Tuesday, found model practices worth adopting, like Anaheim Elementary School District’s creation of an after-school Emergent Bilingual Academy for struggling English learners.

May 18 | CalMatters

Gavin Newsom loves superlatives, even when they are unwarranted, and a strong surge in state revenues gave him the opportunity last week to indulge his peculiarity.

Repeatedly, the governor boasted about a $75 billion budget surplus that in combination with wad of federal pandemic aid would finance a “$100 billion California Comeback Plan” of new and expanded services, including cash payments to millions of families as part of a $267 billion budget.

“This is a generational budget,” Newsom said. “This is an historic, transformational budget. This is not a budget that plays small ball. We’re not playing in the margins. We are not trying to fail more efficiently.”

May 17 | CNN

The University of California system will no longer require SAT and ACT scores for admission after reaching a settlement agreement, a statement from the UC system said.

UC first announced the new policy on April 1, 2020, for incoming freshman in fall of 2021, and in May of 2020 the regents board extended the policy for 2022 and 2023.

However, the UC system said it would allow campuses to make the tests optional for freshman admissions for fall 2021 and 2022.

May 16 | CalMatters

The traditional school year will soon end, but the maltreatment of California’s 6 million public school students — especially those from poor non-white families — shamefully continues.

Although on paper California’s schools have reopened their classrooms after being closed to battle the spread of COVID-19 infection, most pupils will close out the year still struggling to learn at home or, in too many cases, having given up for a lack of technical and human support.

May 12 | Los Angeles Times

California has received more than $22 billion in new federal funds for public schools since December that have not yet been accounted for in the state’s 2021-22 budget plan. Education leaders in the state are anxiously awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revision to the budget to see how those funds will be invested in communities and school districts across the state hard hit by the pandemic.

While many are asking when schools will get back to “normal,” we should be working toward a “new normal” of better educational policies that will replace some of the deep-rooted flaws and inequities in public schools, which were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 11 | Orange County Register

Over the past few years, the Legislature has passed several new laws that limit the expansion of charter schools and provide additional oversight of these publicly funded school alternatives. The laws’ backers say that these laws boost accountability, but it’s increasingly obvious that they have more troubling goals in mind.

Charter schools remain a bright spot in California’s educational system, especially for those poor and minority students stuck in under-performing districts. Teachers’ unions have been using their expanded political muscle to stifle the competition. They are back again this year with yet another bill that would undermine the state’s noble charter-school experiment.

May 5 | EdSource

San Diego County’s school districts received huge infusions of federal cash this year to cope with COVID and did not lose any state funding — yet many still are facing long-term budget deficits, and some still have to make budget cuts.

 

Of the county’s 42 school districts, 27 are expecting to spend more than they take in this school year, according to interim budget letters sent by the San Diego County Office of Education to school districts in mid-April. The county office oversees district finances and provides support to districts and charter schools.

May 4 | CalMatters

Los Angeles’ most prominent civic leader, billionaire businessman Eli Broad, died last Friday, sparking an outpouring of praise for his many philanthropies.

Broad had come to Los Angeles as a young entrepreneur in 1963 and made his fortune in homebuilding (KP Homes) and in finance. He saw it, he told one interviewer, as “a meritocracy (and) one of the few cities you can move to without the right family background, the right religious background, the right political background, and if you work hard and have good ideas, you’re accepted.”

May 3 | San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County’s school districts received huge infusions of federal cash this year to cope with COVID and did not lose any state funding — yet many still are facing long-term budget deficits, and some still have to make budget cuts.

 

Of the county’s 42 school districts, 27 are expecting to spend more than they take in this school year, according to interim budget letters sent by the San Diego County Office of Education to school districts in mid-April. The county office oversees district finances and provides support to districts and charter schools.

May 3 | EdSource

At their meeting on May 12, members of the State Board of Education are expected to finally adopt what other states have adopted and what’s been under study for years in California: a way to include individual students’ progress on state standardized tests as part of the state’s school accountability system.

State board members agree with the criticism of advocates of student equity and school accountability hawks that a “student growth model” should replace what the state now uses to measure student achievement on the California School Dashboard. That current method compares the test results of the latest 4th graders with the previous year’s 4th grades to calculate change as an element on the dashboard.

May 1 | Los Angeles Times

When Eli Broad flew into Los Angeles International Airport in 1963 with his wife, Edye, the 30-year-old self-made millionaire was not impressed. “The ground below us called to mind the old saying,” he would later write, “‘Los Angeles is 100 suburbs in search of a city.’”

When he died Friday, he was an 87-year-old billionaire who had a greater impact on his adopted home than perhaps anyone else in this city’s modern history.

April 29 | Los Angeles Times

More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic closed school campuses statewide, vast majorities of California adults and public school parents believe their children have fallen behind academically — while still approving of government and school officials’ response to the pandemic, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California has found.

 

More than 8 in 10 respondents said children are falling behind academically during the pandemic.

April 28 | CalMatters

About twice a week, the $9.99 per month internet connection falters. It’s often as Mario Ramírez finally wrangles his kids into their seats — the fourth-grader studies in the bedroom he shares with his 12 year-old sister, who studies in her parents’ bedroom —  in time for virtual class.  The screens freeze — sometimes during online tests. At times the little one bursts into frustrated tears as they wait for their connection to resume, precious class time slipping away. 

 

Though he hides it from his kids, Ramírez’ frustration spikes too, along with fear: What if this is the year that his kids lose interest in their education? In Ramírez’ view, it’s their ticket to a life unburdened by the monthly rent panic that Ramírez has often faced since immigrating from Mexico nearly 30 years ago.

 

“Sometimes I wonder, ‘Will my kids be unable to get ahead?’” Ramirez said in Spanish.

April 21 | Los Angeles Times

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner, who has guided the nation’s second-largest school district through a tumultuous year of coronavirus-forced campus closures and a disruptive teachers strike, will step down as the district’s leader.

 

Beutner announced his decision in a letter Wednesday to the Board of Education.

“As the son of a public-school teacher and the product of a great public education, it has been an honor to serve as Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified for the past three years. It is the most rewarding job I’ve held during my nearly 40-year career,” Beutner said in the letter.

April 13 | Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles school district is set to unfold a gradual and partial reopening plan on Tuesday, one that was heavily influenced by teachers union demands that led to a delayed start date and limited live instructional time — and also by strict safety imperatives shared by both the district and union.
 

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner has hailed the reopening as a nation-leading model for school safety that is sensitive to families in low-income communities hardest hit by illness and death during the pandemic. But the approach has also generated criticism from those who say the quantity and quality of instruction for 465,000 students have been sacrificed this year as a result of union concerns.

April 13 | Los Angeles Times

Like most Los Angeles Unified School District students returning to campus this month, kindergartner Cali Corbin will spend the bulk of her day in “supervised care and enrichment” — free school-site programming for the hours she’s not with her teacher.

For the vast majority of returning elementary schoolers, that means from the end of in-person instruction at 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. For a much smaller number, it may be from 8 a.m. until lunch. And for middle schoolers, it could be several full days a week, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

In all cases, supervised care, not instruction, will make up most of the school day. And for parents like Cali’s mom, Renee Bailey, those extra hours are essential.

April 11 | CalMatters

A comprehensive history of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on California would surely conclude that the state’s school children have been treated shamefully.

The incessant political squabbling over closing and reopening schools, and the sporadic efforts at in-home learning, have once again demonstrated that the supposed adults who manage and operate public education in California are more focused on their own interests than on the wellbeing of students.

April 8 | San Diego Union-Tribune

A lawsuit by three San Diego County charter school networks that said they were wrongfully denied state funding now represents all 308 of California’s charter schools that provide online, home school and other nontraditional learning.

 

Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Arguelles granted the plaintiffs in Reyes v. State of California class-action status in a recent court order. Attorneys for the charter school plaintiffs say this is the first class-action lawsuit involving charter schools in California’s history.

April 7 | EdSource

A Los Angeles parent group filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Los Angeles Unified School District and district Superintendent Austin Beutner, calling for a return to full-time, in-person instruction to the extent possible.

 

The group, California Students United, wants the school district to eliminate requirements that students stay 6 feet apart and that they be tested for Covid-19.

April 4 | Politico

California teachers are ready to go back to the classroom. But the state’s largest union has a new ask: free child care for their own kids.

The demand is salt in the wound for parents who struggled with distance learning at home amid intense reopening negotiations that have dragged on for a year.

As part of school reopening agreements in San Diego, Sacramento and San Jose, unions successfully fought for policies that allow employees to bring their children to the classroom as in-person instruction resumes.

April 2 | EdSource

California education officials have been told verbally that the state may not need to submit a waiver application to the U.S. Department of Education, thus opening the door for more flexibility this spring when it comes to standardized testing, as school districts continue to navigate reopening plans during the pandemic.

As vaccinations have ramped up and cases of Covid-19 have declined across the state, many California schools have started bringing back groups of students for in-person instruction. One part of the reopening puzzle recently has been how and when to administer statewide standardized tests, which in February the U.S. Department of Education said would be required.

March 29 | Los Angeles Times

Although Vicky Martinez has been dreaming of the day she can send her four children back to in-person instruction in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she thinks that, at least for now, she’s waiting.

But she has had second thoughts. And third thoughts. Her high school son wants to return. Her younger children are afraid of getting COVID-19.

“I am exhausted — physically, mentally, emotionally, financially — all of the above,” she said. “It has been a lot of work, and I feel like I’m failing every day as a parent.”

March 29 | Chalkbeat

States holding out hope that they can cancel standardized testing this year got more bad news Friday, as the Biden administration formally denied requests to do so from two states.

But the U.S. Department of Education approved Colorado’s request to effectively cut testing in half — offering a path for other states that want to reduce the burden of exams this year.

“The realities of the pandemic mean that there’s going to have to be flexibility,” Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant education secretary, said in an interview Friday. “At the same time, obtaining data on student learning includes high-quality statewide assessments, and that data is critically important from an educational equity perspective.”

March 26 | Mercury News

For the past year, Adrienne Rodriguez has watched with mounting worry as her first-grade daughter Hope stares at a computer screen at home, absorbing lessons from her public elementary school that amount to half the number of instruction hours that kids at nearby private schools have been getting in person since the fall.

 

And she’s hardly impressed by Gilroy Unified School District’s plans to welcome Hope and other students who want in-person learning back to the classroom. The district’s proposal won’t bring her daughter’s grade back to campus until April 15, and for less than three hours a day, four days a week.

March 25 | Press Enterprise

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, plans to run for state Superintendent of Public Instruction — in 2026, after she seeks another term in the state Senate and campaigns for the current superintendent to win another term.

 

Leyva, who has been on the Senate’s education committee since she was first elected in 2014 and has chaired the committee the past three years, said she had no idea before running for Senate that she would develop such a passion for education.

March 23 | Los Angeles Times

When states shuttered public schools for in-person learning last March, almost no one imagined that some of them would remain closed for a full year or more. As time passed, concerns about a limited “learning loss” grew into worries about a “lost generation” of students. Projections of lost achievement were massive.

But when student performance data started trickling in during the fall, the results were not as terrible as many had envisioned. Yes, performance seemed to be dipping, especially for the most vulnerable, but the magnitude of the decline appeared smaller than the direst predictions.

March 21 | Los Angeles Times

Students in California are now allowed to sit three feet apart in classrooms — instead of four or six feet — in guidelines state officials issued over the weekend, a major change in policy that will exert pressure on local officials to consider a faster and more complete reopening of campuses that have been closed for over a year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local education leaders, however, will have the final say — and Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner said Sunday that the L.A. Unified School District would keep the six-foot rule.

March 17 | EdSource

California school officials scratching their heads over how to roll out standardized tests this spring could soon have another option.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow California school districts to use locally selected tests rather than the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required by state and federal education law.

March 9 | Mercury News

A new study adds to the mounting evidence of lost learning due to school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, with the ability of students in early grades to read aloud quickly and accurately about 30 percent lower than normal over the past year.

The research released Tuesday by Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent research center based at Stanford University, examined 250,000 oral reading fluency scores for students in first through third grade last spring and fall in over 100 school districts across 22 states.

March 8 | New York Times

It has been almost a year since the coronavirus pandemic virtually emptied public schools in Los Angeles and sent Shamael Al-Alim home to take classes from her bedroom.

She does not miss rising at 6 a.m. to catch a bus and a train to her high school. But there is so much that, at 17, she does miss: The prospect of an in-person prom and graduation. The history teacher who ran the social justice club. Pickup basketball in the gym after school — and the coach “who made everybody feel safe there.” A real senior year.

March 1 | EdSource

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature have struck a deal to accelerate the reopening of school campuses by moving up the deadline to send the youngest students back to class in March. They also are adding $2 billion in incentives and removing obstacles that districts had complained were standing in their way.

Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, and Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, announced the framework on Monday. It provides some of the key elements that Newsom had been pressing for during more than a month of protracted negotiations.

March 1 | Politico

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers struck a deal Sunday that would push school districts to open classrooms to the youngest students by the end of March while stopping short of new requirements regarding vaccines and collective bargaining.

The deal more closely aligns with what the governor originally proposed in December than what Democratic lawmakers detailed in a bill in February. It does not require schools to open but instead offers financial incentives for those that do, according to sources close to the deal who asked not to be named because it had not yet been made public.

February 25 | LA Times

Despite deep concerns over elevating student stress just as children are returning to school, standardized testing will take place this spring for about 4.3 million California students.

With limited options, the state Board of Education voted against pursuing a blanket waiver from the federal government to suspend mandated standardized testing after the Biden administration released guidance this week that encouraged states to move forward with testing — but come up with ways to ease the process.

February 24 | EdSource

The State Board of Education in California voted unanimously to prepare to apply for more flexible standardized testing options this year as nearly 80% of students across the state continue with distance learning.

States are required to conduct standardized tests every year in math, English language arts and science, according to both state laws and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. When schools shut their buildings in March last year due to the pandemic, however, state officials said districts did not have to administer the tests, pending getting a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education under then-Secretary Betsy DeVos. The department quickly granted waivers to all states relieving them of their testing obligations.

February 23 | Education Trust

“We are pleased to see that the U.S. Department of Education will not consider blanket waivers of the critical civil rights component of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that requires high quality, statewide assessments. We recognize the many challenges that states continue to face as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including managing a mix of in-person and remote instruction and the logistical challenges of administering annual statewide assessments. Students of color, Native students, English learners, immigrant students, students with disabilities, students from low-income families, students experiencing homelessness, and other historically underserved students have faced and will continue to experience unique challenges that impede their learning during the pandemic. Data on multiple measures, including school climate, student access to resources and opportunities, and student learning outcomes, are essential tools to address systemic inequities in our education system, as well as to gauge the quality of instruction and support offered under COVID-19 restrictions. Transparent, actionable measures of the experiences of different groups of students can empower families and advocates; guide state and local resource allocation, interventions, and supports; and identify equity gaps that require federal investment, policy, and guidance. Parents and families deserve to know whether their children are meeting college- and career-ready expectations and whether the education system is responding to and improving their opportunities to succeed.

February 17 | Los Angeles Times

By Editorial Board

Schools have been reopening across the country for months now, illustrating that students can return to classrooms with little risk if the proper precautions have been taken. This is especially true of elementary schools, as younger children have been far less likely to be sickened with COVID-19 or to infect others. Reopened schools have not caused infections to surge in outlying communities.

Yet Los Angeles Unified schools — along with many other public schools statewide — have remained closed. Supt. Austin Beutner, who has been struggling with a teachers union unwilling to send educators back into classrooms, couldn’t have opened the schools anyway because the county’s infection rate was too high to meet the state’s stringent standards. But this week, that rate fell to the point where it is officially safe for all elementary schools in the county to open.

February 11 | Los Angeles Times

South Whittier schools Supt. Gary Gonzales works seven days a week to move his elementary schools closer to reopening. But the barriers are significant: He’s looking for ways to get vaccines to teachers, negotiating with the union and closely monitoring coronavirus case numbers that show that the virus is still ravaging his community, even as case numbers fall countywide.

Gonzales knows his district’s students, almost all of whom are Latinos from low-income families, are struggling under remote learning. And he knows his community is hurting — the pandemic has claimed 118 lives in tiny South Whittier. A date for bringing students back to the classroom is unclear.

February 2 | Pasadena Now

State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced legislation that would require elementary schools to screen students for dyslexia.

Senate Bill  237 would require the state Board of Education, beginning in the 2022-23 school year, to provide dyslexia screening instruments to schools that would be used annually in order to identify students who are at risk for dyslexia. The measure is aimed at improving test scores and graduation rates, while also helping to destigmatize reading troubles experienced by children.

February 1 | Hechinger Report

As if the pandemic weren’t enough, we’re about to be hit with another tsunami, one not likely to be fought    with a vaccine.  Thousands of our nation’s students aren’t learning to read, and the patchwork of instructional programs, limited resources and frequent change from hybrid to virtual schooling surely is contributing to the problem.

Pre-pandemic, we weren’t doing all that well in teaching our children to read. Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress stagnated, with children lacking even basic proficiency by the end of third grade.  Around one-third  of our nation’s fourth graders were scoring below basic on standardized tests, a staggering statistic that isn’t even newsworthy anymore. 

January 28 | Politico

A frustrated Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday said school administrators and teachers unions should agree as soon as possible to reopen schools for younger students — or else be clear with families that they will not return to classrooms at all this academic year.

Newsom was responding to growing demands that all teachers receive vaccines first, but also a long list of conditions that go beyond what the governor has proposed as safe to reopen schools that have been shut for nearly a year. The vast majority of California's 6 million public schoolchildren haven't been on campuses since March.

January 22 | Senate Press Release

Today State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) introduced SB 237, a measure which would require elementary schools to screen students for dyslexia.

 

“Sadly, students with dyslexia far too often go unidentified, untreated and their trouble with reading negatively impacts them throughout their life,” stated Senator Portantino. “While some dyslexics overcome their challenges, far too many bright students have lower graduation rates, are less likely to attend college, and go on to have a much higher incarceration rates than those who do not have it. By accurately screening students at risk for dyslexia early in their school experience, we can help them succeed.” 

January 8 | Sacramento Bee

By Adam Ashton

California has so much money it might have to give some back to taxpayers.

The state is on pace to hit a spending cap voters adopted in 1979 when state politics were dominated by a taxpayer revolt, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday as he unveiled his $227 billion 2021-22 spending plan.

January 6 | CalMatters

By Bill Lucia

The Legislative Analyst Office recently reported a $26 billion windfall. And, some are suggesting California should restore across-the-board cuts. But politicians must recognize solutions embedded in the June budget did not embody shared sacrifice – kids and teachers took a disproportionate hit.

June revenues were deliberately pessimistic. As a result, the Legislature could low-ball the Proposition 98 minimum school funding guarantee. In addition, the state relied heavily on payment deferrals to schools to close the budget gap. $12.5 billion in IOUs were established requiring schools to wait until next year to get paid what they are owed today. 

December 22 | New York Times

By Erica L. Green and Eliza Shapiro

In August, Connecticut’s schools chief, Miguel A. Cardona, logged on to a virtual meeting of New Haven’s school board, ostensibly to hear why its members had decided not to open the state’s largest school district for in-person classes this fall.

Most of the district’s students had not fully participated in remote learning, he said. Its most vulnerable populations had the most to lose by not returning to school buildings, and the district had met public health metrics for reopening. But although Dr. Cardona later suggested the board reconsider, he declined to overrule it.

“All of you, whether you have a very strong position on one end or the other, are here because you care about the success of children and the community,” he concluded.

December 1 | Los Angeles Times

By Nina Agrawal 

The state of California has failed during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a free and equal education to all students, violating the state Constitution and discriminating against Black, Latino and low-income families, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

These children have been left behind during months of distance learning, lacking access to digital tools as well as badly needed academic and social-emotional supports, according to the lawsuit filed by the Public Counsel on behalf of California students, parents and several community organizations.

November 16 | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg and Ali Tadayon

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “sounding of the alarm” to beat back the surge of the Covid-19 virus represents a severe setback for efforts to further reopen schools in California, as millions more students now attend schools in counties barred from offering face-to-face instruction in regular classes.

On Monday, Newsom applied what he called an “emergency brake” on reopening schools and businesses in almost every part of the state, based on coronavirus rules announced months ago. Of the state’s 58 counties, 41 counties are now on the Tier One purple list, the most restrictive of the state’s coronavirus monitoring list.

November 15 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By Kristen Taketa

San Diego Unified is proposing adding dozens of standards for new and expanding charter schools after a new state law gives districts more leeway to deny charters.

Under the proposed criteria, San Diego Unified would consider the potential financial and enrollment impact of a new or expanding charter school on the district.

Before the law change, the district could not consider those factors.

November 13 | Daily News

By Linh Tat

The Los Angeles Unified School District and Associated Administrators of Los Angeles have reached an agreement regarding how to bring students and staff back to campus for in-person instruction, one of several agreements the district has been negotiating with its employee groups.

Although district officials have said they hope to see a general reopening of schools in January if possible, no plans have been firmed up, as the district continues to negotiate with the teachers union and other employee groups, and as they continue to monitor the current spike in coronavirus cases.

November 11 | The 74

By Katie Silberstein and Marguerite Roza

Under California’s Local Control Funding Formula, the San Diego Unified School District’s highest-needs schools generated $1,468 more per student in 2016-17 than the average amount generated across all district schools. Yet, according to our new study, once that money passed through the district, those same neediest schools wound up receiving $127 less per student than the district’s average school. In fact, 12 of the 14 California districts we studied passed along a smaller share of formula-generated dollars to the schools with the highest-needs students.

November 9 | EdSource

By Sydney Johnson

High school students planning to apply to the University of California now have a broader set of courses they can take to meet the math requirement for admission to the public university system.

As more high schools across California have developed and adopted new college-prep math courses, math education and equity advocates have urged the state’s public universities to allow these courses to count toward admission requirements.

 

Under the new rules adopted in October, students in 11th and 12th grade can take data science, computer science, statistics and other approved quantitative reasoning courses to satisfy the required third year or recommended fourth year of math needed to be eligible for UC.

November 4 | Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume

The titans of Los Angeles school politics — charter-school advocates and the teachers union — have fought to an expensive draw in Tuesday’s school board races, with a winner expected from each side and a board majority that could tilt in favor of charters.

 

In District 3, which covers most of the western San Fernando Valley, union-backed incumbent Scott Schmerelson led charter-backed Marilyn Koziatek by 54% to 46% of votes cast Wednesday evening. In District 7, which stretches from South L.A. to the Harbor area, charter-backed Tanya Ortiz Franklin was in front of union-backed Patricia Castellanos by a tally of 58% to 42%.

November 4 | EdSource

By Sydney Johnson

Teachers, administrators and parents wondering about the status of California’s annual standardized tests can expect to get clarity this week.

On Thursday, the State Board of Education will vote on whether to revise and shorten the state’s annual standardized Smarter Balanced tests in math and English language arts.

“We want to ensure we are providing flexibility and options to districts in an ever-evolving environment right now,” said Rachael Maves, deputy superintendent of instruction and measurement for the California Department of Education. “We are coming off a year of very little data, and I feel hopeful that we are starting down the path of collecting some.”

October 31 | Hechinger Report

By Tara Garcia Mathewson

At Ronald D. O’Neal Elementary School, in Elgin, Illinois, none of the third graders could read and write at grade level according to state tests in 2019. Nearly 90 percent of the school population is considered low-income and nearly three-quarters are labeled English learners, meaning that the state language arts test assesses their reading and writing ability in a language they’re still trying to learn.

Just nine miles away sits Centennial Elementary School, where 73 percent of third graders met grade-level standards on that same test. A fifth of Centennial’s student body is considered low-income, and 17 percent get extra supports as they learn English.

October 30 | EdSource

By Howard Blume

Grades of D and F have increased in the Los Angeles Unified School District among middle and high school students in a troubling sign of the toll that distance learning — and the coronavirus crisis — is taking on the children, especially those who are members of low-income families.

The district released a chart Monday indicating that based on 10-week interim assessments, failing grades are increasing across the board, but are surging the most in lower-income communities. Compounding the disturbing trend, students in these same communities, hard hit by the spread of COVID-19, have the lowest attendance.

October 30 | EdSource

By Yuxuan Xie

The above map gives a broad indication of the kind of instruction offered by all or most public school districts in a particular county — whether via in-person or distance learning, or a mixture of the two. It does not include private, parochial or charter schools, or special education or other small group classes for students with special needs that districts are offering through the state’s “small cohort” guidance. “In-person instruction” refers to counties where most or all districts offer some form of in-person instruction in regular classes, or plan to offer such instruction in November, often in hybrid formats, to some or all grades, and to those students who wish to participate.  It is based on information from county offices of education from Oct. 22-29, supplemented by EdSource research.

October 29 | Legislative Analysts Office

This post begins by covering the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee and overall Proposition 98 spending, then covers spending for K-12 education. The EdBudget part of our website contains dozens of tables providing more detail about the 2020‑21 education budget package.

October 28 | USA Today

By Erin Richards

American high schoolers are approaching graduation with less of a grasp on reading and still-low math scores – and that's before factoring in the pandemic.

The average reading score for high school seniors dropped between 2015 and 2019, while math scores for those soon-to-be-graduates remained flat, according to the latest round of national test results released Wednesday.

And just as in many other aspects of American society, the divide between the academic haves and have-nots keeps growing. The most-proficient 12th graders – those with scores at the top of their class – are scoring better in reading than they did nearly 30 years ago. The least-proficient 12th grade readers are even further behind than they were in 1992, with scores that declined in that time period.

October 22 | Los Angeles Times

By Howard Blume and Laura Newberry

In a significant move to bring more students back to campus, Los Angeles County schools will be permitted to bring 25% of their students back to campus at a time, provided that they need special services best offered in person.

 

Students receiving priority would include those learning English and those with disabilities.

The action announced Wednesday by Supervisor Kathryn Barger comes in response to pressure to allow more students on campus and reports that schools elsewhere have reopened with relative safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

October 14 | Sacramento Bee

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks and Sawsan Morrar

Marcheri Smith hovers behind her son Tulley as he strains to hear his teacher’s instructions on Zoom and worries, like many parents at Sacramento City Unified schools, whether her son is falling behind.

With spotty internet, tight budgets, glitchy devices and piling responsibilities, Smith’s family is just trying to make it through each day.

“I don’t sleep at all,” she said.

September 16 | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The first significant change to the state’s 7-year-old K-12 funding system, the Local Control Funding Formula, is a signature away from becoming law.

But if Gov. Gavin Newsom accepts the recommendation of his advisers at the California Department of Finance and ignores the Legislature’s near-unanimous vote favoring the significant reform, he’ll veto the legislation within the next few weeks. Hundreds of nonprofits and civil rights groups signed a letter last week urging him not to do that; signing it instead would ensure that funding for “our highest-need, most vulnerable students is actually directed to support them,” the letter said.

September 7 | Sacramento Bee

By Sawsan Morrar

Tens of thousands of families in Sacramento are dealing with a new layer of uncertainty one day before Sacramento City Unified schools are set to begin their first full days of online instruction.

The district delivered a cease and desist letter to the Sacramento City Teachers Association calling on the union to use the district’s distance learning schedule. But some teachers on Monday said they instead plan to move forward with schedules they collectively created together as a union and are different than the district’s plan.

September 5 | LA Times

By Howard Blume

Citing safety concerns, the leader of the Los Angeles teachers union said Friday it opposes reopening campuses for small in-person classes or one-on-one services for students who are disabled or learning English — even though county health officials have cleared the way to do so.

Some outside advocacy groups pushed back against the union’s position and the unwillingness of the L.A. Unified School District to address the issue directly and publicly.

August 27 | OC Register

By Editorial Staff

After Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 98, a budget trailer bill that froze this year’s school funding based on last year’s average daily attendance, a group of charter schools and their students filed a lawsuit charging that the state was violating the students’ constitutional right to an education and threatening the financial viability of their schools.

 

The annual guaranteed per-pupil funding under the state’s Local Control Funding Formula is approximately $10,000, but the lawmakers’ decision to hold school districts “harmless” for lost enrollment in the pandemic chaos meant that students at schools with declining enrollment would share in the extra funding for students who were no longer there, while schools with increasing enrollment would have to get by with less than the annual per-pupil guarantee.

August 22 | Sacramento Observer

By Observer Staff

At the tender age of 5, Samaiya Atkins and her father Marcus Atkins have high hopes and dreams for a high-quality, public education. When Mr. Atkins realized his daughter could get that level of rigor at a new school with an established reputation for developing high-performing scholars just a few blocks away from their home in the Meadowview community of Sacramento, he was ecstatic and quickly signed Samaiya up for Tecoy Porter College Prep.

Meadowview is the community where Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man was shot and killed by the Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard giving rise to local and national protests.  Fostering hope out of tragedy, Black community leaders built Tecoy Porter College Prep, a new college-prep charter school for students grades K-5 — just yards away from where Clark was killed — and named the playground in his memory at a groundbreaking on February 4, 2020 with his family.  “I want them to know Stephon is a part of Sacramento history,” said his brother, Stevante Clark. “The remembrance of Stephon is what we want the kids to keep in their hearts and in their minds.” 

August 12 | LA Times

By Howard Blume 

With families anxious about the quality of online learning, the Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that will restore structure to the academic schedule while also allowing for an online school day that is shorter than the traditional one.

The plan leaves some parents and advocates in the nation’s second-largest school system wanting more teaching hours. There also are parents who want fewer mandatory screen-time hours for their young children — a reflection of the complexities of distance learning and the widespread parent angst over the start of the school year next week at home, online.

August 6 | APM

By Emily Hanford

 

Sonya Thomas knew something wasn’t right with her son C.J. He was in first grade and he was struggling with reading. “Something was going on with him, but I could not figure it out,” she said. 

Teachers and school officials told her that C.J. was behind but would catch up. They told Sonya to read to him at home. But she did read to him. C.J. liked the Veggie Tales stories and “The Big Friendly Giant” by Roald Dahl. His older sister read the Goosebumps books to him.