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Ride for a Reason: Bike for school dollars + Jerry Brown’s plan to fund locally

For those of you who fought for more school funding and are resting easy after the passage of Prop 30: You might be planning a backyard barbecue or some spring cleaning this weekend but not the annual Ride for a Reason bike to Sacramento, whose organizers would like to remind you that it’s not over ’til it’s over. The group takes off from Oakland Saturday at sunrise to advocate for additional state funding and to raise money for enrichment programs in four North Oakland schools: Claremont Middle, Oakland Technical High, Emerson Elementary, and Oakland International High.

More money? Yes, say the riders, in order for California to get to the national average in state funding per student. California would need three times the revenue expected under Prop 30  to reach the national average, according to the California Budget Project. Ride for a Reason didn’t mention Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula.

CBP just  released its analysis of the proposal, which changes the way school districts are funded by giving districts with low-income and ESL K-12 pupils extra money.

Our regional education reporter Theresa Harrington wrote about it here in February and will have an update story soon. It’s too early to apply specifics to OUSD because state lawmakers are still dueling, armed with separate bills. My take is that they fear even the hint of losing money for their district (which is not what the local formula does) or letting another district get a cent more then theirs.

Brown’s proposal is weak on oversight and accountability for local school boards who would be in charge of spending the  extra money on the low-income and English learning students based on “what makes most sense” based on local needs, Steven Bliss of the CBP said during a call-in this morning. His organization favors the proposal but conceded there are “issues and problems with the accountability piece.” The he local school board comes up with an accountability plan spelling out how the money would be used to address specific issues. The plan gets vetted before board members vote to adopt along with the district budget. The budget and local funding formula align are supposed to align. In the case of OUSD, the Alameda County Board of Education would decide whether they do. But the governor’s proposal does not specific what to do if they do not align and doesn’t go far enough to make sure local school boards are doing a good job prioritizing and spending.

The second catch is the money. Where is the additional $15 million going to come from? Theresa’s story will explain the short-term answer. But as far as the long term answer, the proposal depends on economic growth. The Ride for a Reason cyclists might be pedaling to Sacramento for a few more years before the plan is fully funded.

As for Saturday: Most riders will depart Oakland near sunrise and arrive in Sacramento in the afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. rally on the north steps of the Capitol building. State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, is the featured speaker.

 

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California PTA moms try to reach voters in a new way: gangsta rap comedy

In case the sweet faces of underserved public schoolchildren aren’t enough to convince some California voters to approve Prop. 30 and/or 38 on Nov. 6, maybe this will get their attention.

In a 5-minute video promoted by the new parent group Educate Our State, PTA moms frustrated by conventional fundraising schemes turn to intimidation — via pseudo gangster costumes, Taliban references, fake guns and fog (and above all, noisy kids who spill stuff) — to get their schools what they need.

Unlike the pro-Prop. 38, anti-Prop. 30 “contrast ads,” which Molly Munger recently pulled, this “Shake You Down” video urges voters to say “yes” on both fundraising ballot measures. Los Angeles parents Elise Robertson and Mouncey Ferguson made the video; they cast parents from their school, Aldama Elementary, and their own kids.

Can you relate?

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Weinberg: Extra money makes a huge difference in student outcomes

Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and Education Report contributor, makes a case for the Proposition 30 tax initiative on the November ballot.

Steven WeinbergDoes providing schools with more money lead to improvements in student achievement?

The experience of Oakland middle schools over the last three years shows that it does.

Several years ago four Oakland middle schools with test scores in the lowest 20 percent of state schools received multiyear grants of $900 per student to reduce class sizes and fund other improvements. The grants were not given to all schools in the lowest 20 percent because the state wanted to be able to compare differences in improvement between those schools that received the extra money and those that did not.

After three years the differences in Oakland’s middle schools are dramatic. Continue Reading