15

Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for CA schools

STF
AP Photo by Rich Pedroncelli

Today, the governor unveiled his first budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The plan would increase K-12 spending levels by $2.7 billion next year.

It would also, as expected, overhaul the funding formula for school districts.

Brown’s proposed funding formula would lift a number of spending restrictions that have long been in place for specific programs, instead granting school boards the latitude to allocate the funds where they see fit.

And here’s the biggest change: Brown’s proposal would give a base amount to school districts for each student — roughly $6,700 per pupil, on average. Then it would give districts an additional 35 percent to educate every child who is low-income, an English learner or in foster care, according to Nick Schweizer, of the Department of Finance.

Continue Reading

4

Expecting more of students with disabilities

Stacey Smith is an Oakland school district parent and volunteer who has served on the District GATE Advisory Committee, the school board’s Special Committee on School Based Management, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. What she writes about does not reflect the view of any group.

“State should expect more of students with disabilities, say federal officials”

That’s the headline from a front-page San Francisco Chronicle story about how California schools have lowered academic expectations for special education students statewide by over-using the simplified California Modified Assessment (CMA) rather than using the regular California Standard Tests (CST).

The CMAs and CSTs are two standardized tests California students in grades 3-11 take annually. The U.S. Department of Education has expressed concern that California uses the CMAs more than twice as often as recommended by federal guidelines. According to the feds, the rate of special education students taking the CMAs should be 2 percent of the total student population and only 20 percent of the special education population.

How is OUSD doing? In 2011-12, Oakland reported that 7 percent of the district’s population enrolled in grades 3-11 took the CMAs for English Language Arts (ELA), more than three times the expected rate.

Continue Reading

45

API and NCLB, all over again

Today was Test Score Day, which meant staring at numbers for hours — and, in my case, unwittingly informing a school principal that her award-winning school had fallen into Program Improvement.  (Not the worst news I’ve ever delivered, but still.)

Want to see the latest API scores? My colleague Danny Willis created an interactive database, and you can find my story on NCLB here. You might be surprised by some of the school districts that ended up in Program Improvement this time around.

Nearly a dozen more OUSD schools landed in Program Improvement, including Think College Now, Manzanita SEED, Montera Middle School and others that have won awards for closing the achievement gap.

No OUSD schools made it out this year, but we reported on a school in Hayward that did. Burbank Elementary School received a three-year, multi-million-dollar School Improvement Grant, beginning in 2010-11, and has been able to offer its students more ever since.

Below is the list of Oakland schools newly identified for Program Improvement, and you’ll find a link to the PI status of all schools in Alameda County here.

OAKLAND SCHOOLS THAT FELL INTO PI THIS YEAR: Continue Reading

22

Gov. Brown signs, vetoes, student discipline bills

Public Counsel, a non-profit law firm that has promoted an overhaul of school discipline policy, released this summary of bills signed and vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Note: The descriptions of each bill are theirs, not mine.

Bills Brown has signed:

  • AB 1729 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) changes existing law to strengthen the alternatives to suspension or expulsion and clarify that school removals should only happen after other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct.
  • AB 1909 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) ensures that school districts provide notification to foster parents or other county child welfare designees and the court-appointed attorney for the foster youth when a foster youth is pending expulsion.
  • AB 2537 by Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez (D-Coachella) provides additional discretion to school administrators to use alternative means of correction in lieu of expulsion and further clarifies that possessing an imitation firearm, over-the-counter medicine or student’s prescription medicines are not “zero tolerance” offenses that automatically require expulsion. It also eliminates an existing $500 fine imposed on a principal who fail to notify law enforcement of certain crimes allegedly committed by students.
  • AB 2616 by Assemblymember Wilmer Carter (D-Rialto) will focus truancy reduction efforts on solutions with schools, students and parents that are shown to work, so that law enforcement and courts are used only as a last resort.
  • SB 1088 by Senator Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) helps ensure that children who have had contact with the juvenile justice system are not barred from re-enrollment and are immediately reenrolled in school.

He vetoed: Continue Reading

9

National immigration policy, local high school students

DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS SESION
photo by Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

A story in the Oakland Tribune by my colleague Matt O’Brien examined how the federal “deferred action for childhood arrivals” immigration policy might provide added inspiration to some students to graduate from high school and go to college.

The program, announced in June, offers temporary deportation relief for those brought to the country illegally when they were children as long as they were under 31 on June 15 and have met certain educational (and other) requirements.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, 20 percent of young immigrants who met the other criteria won’t be able to benefit because they don’t have a high school diploma or GED and they’re not in school. I wonder if that figure is even higher in Oakland, where the four-year high school graduation rate is only 59 percent.

Continue Reading

83

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

49

OUSD: Changes in the principal’s office

Here it is, your long-awaited account of who’s in and who’s out of various Oakland schools this year. From this 2012-13 directory, I count 15 new principals — seven at elementary schools, three at middle schools and five at high schools. Did I miss any?

This means that about 17 percent of OUSD’s 86 schools will have new leaders. Last year, if you recall, there were 20 new principals for 98 schools.

Two schools are also trying out the co-principal model — two people who share the job. Burckhalter Elementary School, which expects to take on dozens of children displaced from the shuttered Lakeview Elementary, will take on Lakeview’s former principal as well — along with its existing leader. Claremont Middle School, which has undergone some serious turnover in recent years, was appointed co-principals as well: twin brothers whose mother attended Claremont.

I’m curious about this setup — the financial implications (Are they paid the same as if they were the sole principal? Who’s covering the additional cost?), the potential benefits, the division of labor, and the reasons those two schools were chosen to have two leaders — and will have more for you later.

SCHOOLS WITH NEW PRINCIPALS

Elementary: Brookfield, Burckhalter (which will add a co-principal; Carin Geathers is not leaving), Esperanza, Grass Valley, Lafayette, Sobrante Park (which will share a principal with Madison Middle School, even though the schools aren’t supposed to merge until 2013) and International Community School

Middle: Claremont, Elmhurst and Montera

High/alternative: Bunche Continuation, Castlemont High, Dewey Academy (continuation), Oakland High and Community Day School

Where did the principals of the five closing elementary schools go? Continue Reading

44

Child abuse reporting failures in schools: a matter of policy?

In a recent story, Mercury News reporters Julia Prodis Sulek and Sharon Noguchi asked why some school personnel don’t report complaints of child abuse, especially when they involve a colleague. Here’s the crux of their report:

From Moraga to Palo Alto to San Jose, child sex abuse cases in schools and day care centers have surfaced alleging that school employees entrusted with the safety of students failed to do what their oaths and the law required: report to police or child protective services when they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused.

Child advocates blame a lack of courage and a lack of training.

“It’s not so much about protecting people, but not having the leadership ability to step up,” said Margaret Petros, a commissioner on the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Council. “People in general want to get along and not rock the boat.”

Their piece followed the latest developments in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and apparent cover-up at Penn State; it also came in the wake of a series of investigative reports by Bay Area News Group staffers Matthias Gafni and Malaika Fraley that uncovered another dark story (stories, really) that happened at a school much closer to home, at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the sleepy town of Moraga. You should really read their work, if you haven’t.

Today, Congressman George Miller announced he was asking the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to examine the effectiveness of current laws and policies on child abuse reporting. Continue Reading