Assembly speaker proposes extension of child care subsidy

John Perez, California Assembly Speaker. AP Photo/Rich PedroncelliWEDNESDAY UPDATE: No resolution was reached at today’s First 5 California Commission meeting. (I’ve posted a short statement from First 5 in the comments section.)

California Assembly Speaker John Perez wants to extend to Jan. 1 subsidized child care benefits that the governor recently vetoed out of the budget, the Sacramento Bee reports today.

According to the Bee, Perez estimates it will cost $60 million to provide the benefit in November and December, and he will ask First 5 California —  a commission created from a 50-cent cigarette tax that voters approved in 1998 — to contribute the bulk of it.

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A new coalition to bring back adult education

a class at the Edward Shands Adult School, which closed this year. Tribune file photo by Lane Hartwell

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that adult education in California has been decimated in recent years. You might also know that the Oakland school board voted in June to shift millions of dollars of adult ed funds to the district’s child care programs, which the governor in May had threatened to cut.

(Not all of the Oakland school district’s 11th-hour cuts went through. The district tried to use an obscure ed code provision to lay off some of its tenured adult education teachers though the employees had not received March 15 pink slip notices. The layoffs were overturned, and many of those adult education teachers are in computer labs, working in a new online high school completion program.)

Now that the long-awaited state budget contains much of the child care funding the governor had proposed to slash (with the exception of CalWORKs child care subsidies for those who have been working and off cash aid for two years or more), Oakland’s adult education advocates are watching closely to see if some of those funds will be restored.

Jessie Ortiz, a veteran adult ed teacher, has organized the Bring Back Adult Education Coalition, a new group that includes teachers, students and two local organizations that support refugees. The coalition is holding its first rally and press conference today at Edward Shands, which closed this year. Continue Reading


In Oakland, school produce stands are becoming a weekly fixture

Produce for sale at Hoover Elementary on Tuesday. Tribune photo by D. Ross Cameron/StaffWest Oakland may not have a full-service grocery store (that’s another story), but it does have another produce stand. Here are some photos we took on Tuesday at Hoover Elementary School’s new weekly market.

The Oakland school district and the East Bay Asian Youth Center opened two more stands this week — at Hoover in West Oakland and Global Family and Learning Without Limits in East Oakland — bringing the total to 12. They plan to expand the number to 25 by September. Glenview Elementary has one too, run by parent and community volunteers.

These mini farmer’s markets are open to the public, as well. Here’s the schedule: Continue Reading


Why do so many new Oakland teachers leave? Some have no choice.

A new report to be presented at tonight’s school board meeting (agenda here) shows that 73 percent of teachers hired by the Oakland school district in 2004 were no longer in the classroom, five years later.

Andy Kwok, rookie teacher at EXCEL High School who left in 2010 after three years. Tribune file photo by Lane Hartwell.Using several years’ worth of data, the district found that 28 percent of its new teachers didn’t return for a second year; about 48 percent didn’t come back for a third, and 60 percent didn’t return for a fourth (such as Andy Kwok, right, the rookie teacher we followed in 2007-08).

Through surveys and the district’s personnel data, the New Teacher Support & Development Department tried to find out why 887 teachers hired between 2004 and 2008 had left. They collected 491 responses.

You might be surprised by one of the top reasons new teachers leave their Oakland classrooms: they have no choice.

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California’s child care cuts, explained

Preschool. Photo by Laura A. Oda/StaffIn California, more than a half million children take part in a publicly funded child care program while their parents work or go to school.

But the waiting list for one of the coveted seats is 180,000 children long — and about to get longer, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

On Nov. 1, nearly 60,000 children whose families have been off welfare for two years or more will lose their spaces.

Those children and their families are  in what’s known as “Stage 3″ of CalWORKs, the welfare-to-work program. Gov. Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto powers on Friday to strike Stage 3 from the budget.

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VETOED: funding for child care, special education

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. File photo.Gov. Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto power tonight to cut nearly $1 billion from the budget the Legislature passed this morning.

The governor reduced CalWORKs funding for child care, mental health services for special needs children, and a host of other state programs that were initially included in the $87.5 billion budget.

You can find a copy of the enacted budget here, along with a list of the vetoed items.

From a Los Angeles Times story that came over the wire:

The governor slashed 23 line items from the $87.5-billion general fund budget, including $256 million from a program for school-age children of families moving off welfare, $133 million from mental health services for special education students and nearly $60 million from AIDS treatment and prevention programs.

Schwarzenegger did not explain his actions, but a report issued by his finance department said the savings from his vetoes would “create a prudent reserve for economic uncertainties.” The state’s reserve for emergencies such as battling wildfires will grow from $375 million to $1.3 billion, the report said.

Advocates for the poor said the governor’s cuts were too deep, especially after a months-long standoff had produced a compromise spending plan that largely spared health and welfare programs from the ax.

“This recession is a time when people in communities need the help the most, and yet the governor is unilaterally making these cuts,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy group.

The spending plan totals about $125 billion overall and passed the Legislature a record 100 days after the budget year began. It addresses a $19.1-billion deficit without new taxes and relies heavily on creative bookkeeping, as well as on cuts to public schools and state workers’ paychecks.

Democratic lawmakers fought back furiously after Schwarzenegger cut about half as much — $489 million — from last year’s general fund, challenging in court his authority to wield the veto pen so liberally. The courts sided with the governor, and the bitterness appeared to linger.

Schwarzenegger’s vetoes “were directed at making life more difficult for California’s working parents and the poorest, sickest and most elderly Californians. This is disappointing, but not surprising,” Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, a Democrat, said in a statement.

“Now we know we have no say over it whatsoever,” said Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for Democratic Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. “It’s just a question of how cruel he wants to be.”

Other Democrats were calling Schwarzenegger a hypocrite. Earlier this week, he had held a news conference announcing his support for extending foster care to young adults up to age 21; they’re currently cut off after turning 18. But on Friday, the governor vetoed nearly $80 million in child welfare services, which includes money for foster care.

“It is unfortunate that the governor just this past week portrayed himself as a child welfare advocate, and then within days he devastated foster kids with the stroke of his blue pencil,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Karen Bass, the former speaker who is now running for Congress. …


CA finally has a budget. What it will mean for public schools.

artwork at Oakland's Sante Fe CDC (Tribune file photo by Laura A. Oda)Good news for early childhood centers: The California budget passed a few hours ago (and 100 days late) includes most the funding for child care that the governor had proposed to cut — a threat around which many school districts built their budgets.

Now, districts will have to figure out how to rebuild the programs they cut around a worst-case scenario budget assumption.

The upshot for Oakland: Continue Reading


Close the achievement gap and graduate college. Then what?

Zeus Yiamouyiannis is an Oakland-based learning consultant and former professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Carroll College. He gives us his take on education reform in general and “Waiting for Superman” in particular — and the film-maker’s assertion that 120 million new high-paying jobs await us in 2020.

Zeus Yiamouyiannis (courtesy photo)American Education has a reality problem and a vision problem. If you listen to policy leaders, rescuing U.S. education simply requires closing the ethnic/social class academic achievement gap and becoming first in the world in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This ostensibly will allow millions of young people to be channeled into the 120+ million future “high skill, high pay jobs” according to the controversial new education reform documentary, Waiting for Superman.

Anticipating this, the Obama administration is funding a “Race to the Top” focusing heavily on STEM education. KIPP charter schools spend three times as much classroom time as average schools on math and science. The more comprehensive charter schools are likewise working to ensure their students both get into college and graduate. All this is laudable on some level, but whose purposes does this serve, and does it reflect lasting actual (or even desirable) trends in the job market?

The Reality Problem
So all you need as a ticket to the good life is a four-year college degree? Tell this rosy myth to all the current, rightfully skeptical twenty-something graduates, saddled with tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars of college debt.   Continue Reading


`Superman’ comes to Oakland

Superman image from aka Kath's photostream at flickr.com/creativecommonsI saw “Waiting for Superman” tonight at Oakland’s Piedmont Theater, an invitation-only screening hosted by the California Capital & Investment Group and the Oakland Schools Foundation.

The first thing I saw when I approached the theater was a small and orderly demonstration by a group of teachers. The film comes down pretty hard on unions, so I wasn’t surprised. One of the signs read: “We are not waiting for anyone! We teach because we care!”

I stood in line behind a San Francisco public schoolteacher named Vanessa Nelson, who was not sure what she’d make of the documentary. She and her colleagues wanted to see and discuss it, she said, but they were concerned that the only schools held up as models of success and hope were privately run, publicly funded charter schools. Why should they support such a film?

Behind me was Mieko Scott, her 12-year-old daughter, Kamari, and one of Kamari’s friends. Scott’s family recently moved from Oakland to the East Bay suburb of Dublin, where they thought the public schools would be good. Continue Reading