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Archive for May, 2012

LAO proposes even shorter year, fewer special-purpose funds, changes to teacher layoff deadline

Given the financial stresses facing California school districts and the uncertain outcome of Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office thinks state lawmakers should:

  1. reduce the minimum school year from 175 to 170 days
  2. remove the strings attached to even more special-purpose funding streams, such as Partnership Academies and K-3 class-size reduction funding. (To see what might happen to such programs when districts can use the money for any legal purpose, look no further than to adult education, which lost its protections in 2009.)
  3. lift restrictions on outside contracts for services not related to teaching (food services, clerical, maintenance)
  4. make major changes to the teacher layoff timeline, including a rolling emergency layoff window in the event of mid-year cuts
  5. adopt the governor’s proposal for k-12 funding restructuring by replacing the current reimbursement system with a “weighted student formula” or block grants. (The list of restricted programs that would merge into that formula is on page 4 of the report on the previous link.)

What do you make of these recommendations? You can find further explanation at the bottom of this report, which includes a survey of school districts. About 60 percent of the districts surveyed reported instituting three furlough days in 2010-11, and slightly fewer in the current year.

The layoff proposal, explained: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Under: Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

OEA elections: a new leader, more calls for change

It’s election week for the Oakland teachers union, and that has extra significance this year. Betty Olson-Jones, the Oakland teachers union president since 2006 (since I’ve been covering Oakland schools!), has reached her term limit. She’ll be succeeded by Mark Airgood or Trish Gorham, who are running to replace her.

Olson-Jones has endorsed Gorham — as well as Steve Neat, Chaz Garcia, Vincent Tolliver, Janan Apaydin, Manny Lopez and Andy Young for seats on the union’s executive board.

Ballots are due on Friday. You can find the complete list of OEA candidates and their statements here.

A year ago, I blogged about a small group of teachers called Oakland TIES (Oakland Teachers for Innovative and Equitable Schooling) that proposed a new set of priorities for the Oakland Education Association. Four of the candidates for the 16-member OEA executive board endorsed by TIES members were elected: Kei Swenson, Toni Morozumi, Benjie Achtenberg, and Isabel Toscano.

This time around, a group of four candidates with similar ideas as TIES (which is no longer very active) — namely, about shifting the union’s approach and embracing a diversity of viewpoints — has emerged: Mark Hurty, Cary Kaufman, Marva McInnis and Angela Badami. Emily Sacks, a Redwood Heights special education teacher whom I interviewed last year about TIES, said she is endorsing all four.

Hurty, a second-year teacher and career-changer, even created a website for his OEA campaign. He says he feels the union leadership needs to bring more light and less heat in its dealings with the OUSD administration, that it should be open to new ideas (from revamped teacher evaluations to an online voting system to encourage participation in OEA elections), and that it should stop trying to advance its cause by maligning those at the other side of the table.

“I want us to be the big kid in the room,” he said. “We have such high moral ground under us that we don’t need to resort to some of the dirty rhetoric that gets tossed around.” (When I asked him for an example, he cited the phrase “education deform.”)

Do you agree?

Last year, fewer than 900 of the roughly 2,500 OEA members voted — less than half, as you can see from the results. How do you think turnout could be improved?

Do you feel well represented by the union leadership?

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Under: Uncategorized | 69 Comments »