Oakland, SF education officials meet with Obama

Three California education officials – including two from the Bay Area – met Monday morning with President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to highlight the need for funding as Congress mulls a new budget and a revamp of the No Child Left Behind law.

Jumoke Hinton HodgeOakland Unified School District board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza and Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Mike Hanson were among the dozen officials from across the nation who met with Obama and Duncan at the White House.

All were from districts that are part of the Council of the Great City Schools; Hodge chairs the board of that national organization, which represents the needs of urban public schools. School districts eligible for membership must be located in cities with populations over 250,000 and student enrollment over 35,000.

Obama said in the meeting that he’s ready to fight with Republicans for school funding and his education priorities, the Associated Press reported. He hopes that Republican lawmakers focus on educating every child and not shifting money away from needy districts, he said; he’s also calling for a focus on low-performing schools, annual assessments and investments in special education and English-language learners.

If the Republican budget doesn’t reflect those priorities, he said, they will have “a major debate.”

“My hope is that their budget reflects the priorities of educating every child,” he said, according to a pool report from the New York Post’s Geoff Earle. “We are making too much progress here … for us to be going backwards now.”

Obama and Duncan are touting improved high-school graduation rates as evidence that the administration’s policies are working. In California, the high school graduation rates from 2012 to 2013 increased by 2.4 percent overall, including a 2.7 percent increase for Hispanic students and a 2.1 percent increase for African-American students.

Richard CarranzaHinton Hodge is co-founder of the Parent Leadership and Engagement Academy Initiative (PLEA), a community-building project dedicated to the education and support of West Oakland parents and families. She collaborated with California Tomorrow to develop programs aimed at increasing parents’ ability to navigate the public school system; has worked extensively with low-income youth and students identified as severely emotionally disturbed; and she has provided gender-specific services to urban girls.

Carranza has been San Francisco’s schools superintendent since June 2012; earlier, he had been the district’s deputy superintendent of instruction, innovation and social justice at the district since 2009.


U.S. Education Secretary visits Bay Area this week

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arrives tomorrow, Tuesday, April 30, for a three-day Bay Area visit to highlight the need for more high-quality early learning programs and innovative teaching strategies.

Arne DuncanDuncan tomorrow will tour and host a media availability at San Francisco’s Cross Cultural Family Center, which provides child-care services in cross-cultural settings — emphasizing the big role family and community play in promoting positive development of young children. After that, he’ll speak at the American Educational Research Association’s 94th annual meeting in San Francisco, delivering remarks on major issues facing students, educators, policymakers, and other education stakeholders.

On Wednesday, Duncan is scheduled to join Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale to help kick off a nationwide effort to improve early education. The initiative follows the release in February of a “For Each and Every Child” report by the 27-member Equity and Excellence Commission, which was formed under legislation authored by Honda.

Duncan also is scheduled Wednesday and Thursday to deliver remarks at the New Schools Venture Fund’s annual summit, an event at San Francisco’s Everett Middle School, and at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar at Stanford University.

Duncan is touting the Education Department’s new blueprint for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT), which among other calls for teacher salaries to be competitive with professions like architecture, medicine and law, more support for novice teachers and more career opportunities for veterans.


Bay Area people named to education equity panel

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today appointed two Bay Area figures to co-chair a national Equity and Excellence Commission that will examine how school finance impacts educational opportunity and recommend ways to make funding fairer.

Named as co-chairs were University of California, Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Also named to serve on the 28-member panel were Stanford University professors Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Linda Darling-Hammond and Eric Hanushek.

The Department formed the commission in response to a congressional request included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, had helped lead the fight for that request.

“All our children should have an equal opportunity to achieve prosperity, not just those at the top,” Honda said in a news release today. “Closing our achievement gap, however, is not just about those at the bottom. It is about making sure that every working and middle class neighborhood has a world-class school. The Equity Commission represents an important opportunity to reframe the issue of education equity and raise its profile in the national debate.”

“We have known for years that equal opportunity is a fallacy in our public schools. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which shows the U.S. lagging badly behind most of the developed world in reading, math and science, highlights how equity/inequity in education correlates directly with global competitiveness or lack thereof,” Honda continued. “As poverty increases in our schools, our scores steadily decrease. This finding should make our goal simple: To make every school as good as the schools in our wealthiest communities.”

The commission will meet for the first time in public session next Tuesday, Feb. 22 in Washington to discuss the scope of its work, outreach efforts, and the timetable for completion of its report.

Edley, Berkeley’s law dean since 2004, cofounded the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, where he taught law for 23 years; and Berkeley’s Chief Justice Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity; he held White House policy positions under Presidents Carter and Clinton, served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and – after having had Barack Obama among his Harvard Law students – advised the current President’s transition team.

Hastings co-founded his DVD-rental-by-mail company in 1997, has been an actiive educational philanthropist and board member of many nonprofits, and served as president of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004; he has led successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools and easier passage of local school bonds.

Cuéllar is Professor of Law and Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School, focusing on administrative law, immigration and citizenship, and international and national security. From early 2009 through last summer, he was on leave from Stanford to serving as Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House; President Obama named him last July to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent agency charged with recommending improvements in the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs.

Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She’s a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.

Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and has been a leader in the development of economic analysis of educational issues, and his work on efficiency, resource usage, and economic outcomes of schools has frequently entered into the design of both national and international educational policy. His research covers areas such as the impacts of teacher quality, high stakes accountability, and class size reduction on achievement along with the role of cognitive skills in international growth and development.

Other commission members include NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund President and General Counsel Thomas Saenz; National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel; and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.