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.


McNerney, Gill & McDonald face off on issues

The Bay Area News Group’s editorial board met this morning in Pleasanton with the three candidates for the newly drawn 9th Congressional District.

John McDonaldRepublican John McDonald, 44, a semiconductor executive from Mountain House, said he’s running because “America has a lot of structural problems, not stimulus problems, that need to get fixed.” He cited his experience in running three successful startups in the past 10 years, and said he’s grown concerned at increasing government intrusion into the private sector; an example, he cited capital gains taxes that drive venture capital overseas. He said he decided that rather than complaining about the state of politics “you’ve just got to go make a difference.”

Ricky GillRepublican Ricky Gill, who turns 25 on Sunday, is a UC Berkeley law student from Lodi who said he’s running to provide native representation to his district; he noted that no sitting state or federal lawmakers lived within the newly drawn district when he declared his candidacy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to a one-year term on the state Board of Education several years ago, he said, and he learned the value of a dollar in his family’s agriculture business. “I think we need a congressional representative who’s going to defend farmers. I’m going to be a friend, not a foe.”

Jerry McNerneyIncumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, 60, said he has built a lot of solid relationships in his five and half years in office, and wants to continue his “retail politics” – meeting constituents, and bringing federal resources home for local schools and infrastructure. He said he has focused on veterans’ issues to ensure those who serve the nation get what they deserve; on growing the local economy; and on protecting the Delta’s water resources. “Right now there are big forces aimed at taking our water.”

Lots more on specific issues, after the jump…
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Miller denounces end of ‘No Child Left Behind’ talks

Rep. George Miller

The House has ceased bipartisan talks around the reworking of No Child Left Behind, national legislation intended to help boost the quality of education in poor and minority communities.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, one of the authors of the original legislation and the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, issued this statement:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement after committee Republicans confirmed that they are abandoning bipartisan talks to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ‘No Child Left Behind’ in the law’s recent iteration. Miller has been working in a bipartisan manner since 2007 to rewrite the law so that it works better for our nation’s students and families.

“I have communicated to Chairman Kline my disappointment that he has chosen to go the partisan route. Partisanship means the end to NCLB reform in this Congress. Bipartisanship is the only successful way forward. The Senate has moved a bipartisan bill out of committee. The House could do the same if it had the political will to do so. Our nation’s children deserve a real process for achieving consensus, not partisan political games.”