Morning Read: Insurance costs boosted superintendent pay

Insurance premium subsidy boosted superintendent’s pay to $772,457
An embattled South Bay school district leader, under investigation for his high compensation, now has a new issue to deal with: insurance premiums that should have been counted as taxable income, but were not. The Centinela Valley Union High School District is being investigated by federal and state authorities for paying Supt. Jose Fernandez $674,559 last year — a figure derived from Fernandez’s own calculations. Now, it turns out that he mistakenly understated his taxable earnings. LA Times

California fails to adequately educate youth inmates, report says
California and other states are largely failing to adequately educate most of the 70,000 youth locked up at any given time in juvenile detention facilities, according to a national report released Thursday. Most youth fail to earn any course credits or complete their high school diploma or equivalency degree while in custody, the report by the Southern Education Foundation found. Yet these young inmates are highly troubled – usually struggling with drug abuse, anger and lagging academic achievement. LA Times

Wanted: early adopters of new science standards
The California Science Teachers Association and the nonprofit education research and development agency WestEd are seeking a half-dozen school districts to take the lead in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. In exchange for committing to making science a core subject and participating in a new K-8 California Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative, the districts would receive funding to train teams of teachers and administrators in the new standards over the next four years. EdSoure

A Win for Los Angeles kids
More than 770 poor Latino kids caught a break this week when the Los Angeles County Board of Education unanimously voted to overturn the L.A. Unified school board’s decision to close their charter schools. Alas, charter-school opponents are if nothing else persistent and will likely pursue other means to deny students better educational opportunities. Wall Street Journal

After complaints, LA school leaders abandon plan to cut orchestra
The Los Angeles Unified School District is reversing course on an unpopular proposal to reduce its elementary school orchestra program from a full year to just one semester. A district spokesperson confirmed that schools receiving orchestra instruction next year will get it the entire school year – though the district is considering changing how schools are chosen. KPCC

Nonprofits get nearly $1 mil to train parents as advocates
Two Los Angeles area non-profit groups received grants of about $900,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to train families of young children in the Los Angeles Unified School District to advocate for their children in the hopes of improving educational outcomes. The UCLA Labor Center and the Advancement Project, were among 30 winners nationwide to share $13.7 million to implement “family engagement” projects over three years. KPCC

Morning Read: FBI investigating superintendent’s salary

Top Centinela official says FBI probing superintendent’s high salary
A top Centinela schools official on Tuesday said the FBI has contacted the district regarding the high salary of Supt. Jose Fernandez, who was paid $674,559 last year. The official, newly elevated school board President Hugo M. Rojas, said he is prepared to cooperate fully with both the FBI and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. LA Times

District remembers bus crash victims
A local student survived the tragic bus crash on Interstate 5 near Orland last Thursday that claimed the lives of five Southern California students who were on their way to visit Humboldt State University. A student from Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools was on board when the crash occurred, as were 18 other Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students, according to the LAUSD. Police did not disclose the local student’s name or status by deadline. Beverly Press

State panel grapples with defining ‘college and career ready’
Preparing students for colleges and careers shouldn’t be an “either-or” proposition and schools should be held accountable for how well they prepare students for both paths, an advocate for career education urged in testimony before a state committee this week. EdSource

Glendale school board weighs Sagebrush transfer
Reaction from Glendale school board members on transferring the Sagebrush territory to La Cañada Unified was mixed Tuesday night during the board’s first public discussion of the issue since 350 people attended a town-hall meeting last month and most of the speakers supported the move. Glendale News Press

College prep for all?
CommentaryThere’s broad commitment to ensuring that all high-school graduates are college- and career-ready, but heated debate about the best means of achieving that goal. The big question is, how can schools both respect the diversity of students’ interests and ambitions and set a high bar for all? In this forum, two longtime advocates of high school reform weigh in. Education Next

Morning Read: Governor backs new CA teacher dismissal bill

New teacher dismissal bill deal has Governor’s support
Asm. Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) says she’s brought the California Teachers Association and the school reform group EdVoice together on an issue that’s split the education community for years: How to allow districts to quickly fire teachers accused of sexual abuse, child abuse or serious drug crimes. Capital Public Radio

Centinela appoints interim replacement for highly paid schools chief
pending an investigation of Supt. Jose Fernandez, who was paid $674,559 last year. Fernandez was placed on paid leave last week. For now, the Centinela Valley Union High School District will be managed by Bob Cox, who had been serving as the assistant superintendent for human resources. The board announced its action after meeting nearly three hours in closed session. LA Times

Modesto teachers to meet as vote looms on split from statewide union
Teachers will gather Wednesday for one last discussion with Modesto Teachers Association management before a pivotal vote May 6 on whether to split from the statewide union. In the run-up to balloting, teachers say tensions are rising, and a legal filing by the California Teachers Association accuses Modesto City Schools of meddling in the fight. Modesto Bee

Vigil planned for Dorsey High student Jennifer Bonilla
A candlelight vigil is planned for Wednesday to honor Jennifer Bonilla, a student from Dorsey High School who was among those killed in a bus crash in Northern California last week. The vigil will begin at 5 p.m. at Dorsey High School, 3537 Farmdale Avenue in the Crenshaw area. LA Times

Morning Read: Settlements to help LAUSD homeless, pending

Settlements pending for Los Angeles schools, homeless
Pro bono organization Public Counsel has inked two class action settlements that would reinstitute funds to struggling schools and homeless residents in the Los Angeles area affected by California’s budget crisis. Under one tentative settlement, reached April 3, Los Angeles Unified School District would allocate $60 million in funding over three years to 37 struggling middle schools that suffered unusually high teacher turnover and student dropout rates following layoffs prompted by the budget crisis. National Law Journal

State among the worst in degrees to Hispanics may surprise you
With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study. Hechinger Report

At an East San Jose high school, students react to new Common Core test
The students in John Daniels’ U.S. history class at James Lick High School in East San Jose are a smidgen of the tens of thousands of juniors who are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium field test this spring. And their views of the new test on the Common Core State Standards are but a snapshot of many that the creators of the test and the state Department of Education will receive over the next two months. EdSource

Must be a combined effort to effectively reform schools
Commentary: The recent guest commentary “Teachers aren’t to blame for most of schools’ problems” addressed a number of important educational issues. Focusing on the Vergara v. California case currently in the courts, the author also points to “misleading and false statements that only serve to distract us from the real problems facing our schools.” Contra Costa Times

Morning Read: Bus crash investigations moves to LA

Deadly bus crash: Bulk of investigation shifts to Los Angeles
The investigation into what caused a FedEx freight truck to cross a median and slam into a charter bus in Northern California, killing 10 people, is shifting to Los Angeles. On the itinerary for investigators: meeting with Silverado Stages, the company that owned and operated the bus involved in the collision, and interviewing student survivors of the accident, mainly in the Los Angeles area. LA Times

More non-profits teaching parents to read with children
Uriel is one of nearly 100 children in East Palo Alto who receive free books and private tutoring through the nonprofit 10 Books A Home, in exchange for a commitment from his mother: She reads with him every day. Programs such as 10 Books a Home, which focus on improving early reading skills by engaging parents, are spreading in California. EdSource

Mobile classroom rolls out to teach students about L.A. River
The contrast between nostalgia for the Los Angeles River and the reality of it today could not be sharper than at its confluence with the Arroyo Seco, a big, desolate flood-control channel strewn with trash and hemmed by freeways, power lines and railroad yards. LA Times

All schools should have good teachers
Commentary: It’s nice to know that tens of millions of extra dollars will go to 37 low-income schools after the Los Angeles Unified School District settled a class-action suit on behalf of students. But the lawsuit, undertaken by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, was never about money; it was about policies that require teachers with the least seniority to be laid off first when there are staff reductions. LA Times

Morning Read: LAUSD students in fatal California bus crash

California bus crash: 5 students among 10 killed; at least 30 injured
Los Angeles Unified officials said Friday that 19 of its students were aboard the bus that collided with a FedEx freight truck in Northern California. At least 10 people were killed in the fiery crash. Officials have not released the identities of those killed in the crash, which occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. Thursday when the FedEx truck crossed a grassy median on Interstate 5 and slammed into the bus packed with students en route to Humboldt State University. LA Times

High-paid South Bay schools superintendent is put on leave
A South Bay schools superintendent who attracted scrutiny for his $674,559 pay was placed on administrative leave this week, pending an internal investigation. The Centinela Valley Union High School District board voted 5-0 to suspend Supt. Jose Fernandez during an abruptly called, closed-door meeting at the Centinela Valley Center for the Arts in Lawndale on Wednesday evening. LA Times

Legislation to strengthen reporting by California teachers makes gains
Two bills — one to strengthen teachers’ mandated reporting requirements and the other to provide additional funding for new state education standards — were approved by the Assembly Education Committee. Both pieces of legislation were authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and are now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. San Jose Mercury

Why academic credentials matter
Commentary: Los Angeles Unified school board candidate Genethia Hudley-Hayes recently was accused of falsifying academic credentials on her resume in her quest to fill the seat vacated after member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte died in December. The seriousness of these allegations cannot be overstated, particularly in a race for school board in the district where the majority of Los Angeles’ black students attend public school. LA Wave

LAUSD should let this science teacher teach
Commentary: In February, Los Angeles Unified School District officials suspended a teacher after two of his students turned in science projects that administrators thought looked like guns. Even granting that school officials have a right to be hypersensitive these days about anything resembling a weapon, their decision to remove him from the classroom was a harmful overreaction. LA Times

Morning Read: Glitches slowing use of Common Core tests

As testing gains steam, help center ‘inundated’ with teacher calls
It’s week three for California’s new web-based standardized tests and some schools are reporting hair-pulling moments. “Our students are becoming frustrated,” said Bonnie Tanaka, principal of Madrid Middle School in El Monte. She said screens are freezing up, and – unlike what was promised – tests don’t resume where a student’s left off after a break, and students can’t review previous answers. KPCC

Report: Part-time, fractured LA school board unacceptable
Los Angeles Unified School board members are taking issue with a report that suggests one way to improve district schools is to give the mayor control. “The implication is that there’s much success in other places and the evidence to that just doesn’t exist,” board member Steve Zimmer said. “We have mayoral control in New York and Chicago, and they are still struggling.” KPCC

Science teacher’s suspension spurs petition drive
A popular Los Angeles high school science teacher has been suspended after students turned in projects that appeared dangerous to administrators, spurring a campaign calling for his return to the classroom. Students and parents have rallied around Greg Schiller after his suspension in February from the downtown Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts. LA Times

Measure backed to pay half of school transit costs
A bill that would increase state support of school transportation to at least half of a district’s costs won the approval Wednesday of a key legislative panel, which rejected a second proposal to pay 100 percent of a district’s bussing costs. The Senate Education Committee also endorsed two major pieces of legislation aimed at boosting California’s commitment to increasing learning opportunities for children from birth through age five. S&I Cabinet Report

California teachers union blinks on discipline bill
Commentary: The threat of a ballot initiative did the trick, persuading the California Teachers Association to negotiate a new process for teacher dismissal. EdVoice, an educational advocacy group based in West Sacramento, titled its proposed initiative: “Stop Child Molesters, Sexual Abusers and Drug Dealers from Working in California Schools Act.” Merced Sun-Star

Morning Read: LAUSD to spend $837M on low-income students

LAUSD plans to spend $837 million on disadvantaged students
Disadvantaged students in L.A. Unified stand to benefit from a multimillion-dollar infusion for more tutoring, counselors, English language coaches, nurses, librarians and other support under a budget plan presented Tuesday. In the opening salvo in a two-month process under the state’s new school finance system, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy presented the district’s first detailed blueprint for spending $837 million specifically aimed at boosting services for students who are low-income, learning English and in foster care. LA Times

2 Santa Monica students arrested after a fight with teacher
Two Santa Monica High School students arrested after a violent confrontation between a student and teacher are due in court Tuesday. A video that captured the incident shows teacher Mark Black, who is also the wrestling coach, pinning a student to the ground. Students said he was trying to confiscate something drug-related from a student when the incident occurred. KABC

For many teens, formal sex education comes too late, CDC report says
Health experts have some simple advice for reducing the teen birthrate in the U.S. — make sure teens learn about abstinence and birth control before they start having sex. It sounds obvious, but it’s obviously needed, according to a report released Tuesday by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LA Times

Faced with an initiative, teachers union blinks on discipline bill
Commentary: The threat of a ballot initiative did the trick, persuading the California Teachers Association to negotiate a new process for teacher dismissal. EdVoice, an educational advocacy group based in West Sacramento, titled its proposed initiative: “Stop Child Molesters, Sexual Abusers and Drug Dealers from Working in California Schools Act.” Sacramento Bee

Morning Read: Hundreds of students protest LAUSD budget

Groups protest LAUSD spending priorities
Several hundred students protested Los Angeles Unified’s proposed budget Monday, claiming poor pupils and schools will receive too little funding. Protest organizer Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president of the Community Coalition, said the district’s spending plan is too vague and does too little for kids who need help the most. LA Daily News

Districts develop goals for foster youth
As districts set their goals for the next school year and allocate funding under the new California school finance system, they have to consider for the first time a small, highly at-risk subset of students: youth in foster care. Under the new Local Control Funding Formula, districts must develop Local Control and Accountability (LCAP) plans, and they must give particular consideration to the needs of English learners, students from low-income families, and students in foster care. EdSource

L.A. Unified students want one of their own on school board
The board is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal to allow a student advisory member on the board. The student, who would be elected by his or her peers, would not have actual voting power or be allowed in closed-session meetings. Instead, the student would provide guidance on issues and cast an advisory vote just before the official vote. LA Times

Santa Monica school official apologizes for remarks on teacher in fight
Santa Monica’s school superintendent has apologized for comments she made after placing a popular science teacher on leave for getting into a physical altercation with a student. In a statement sent to the “community” over the weekend, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon acknowledged that her remarks about the teacher and wrestling coach have “caused great anger.” LA Times

To curb school lunch waste, ease the fruit and vegetable rules
Commentary: No one should have expected that putting more vegetables in front of elementary school students would instantly turn them into an army of broccoli fans. Plenty of food has been thrown out since new federal rules took effect in 2011 requiring students in the subsidized school lunch program to choose a fruit or vegetable each day. Nevertheless, studies find that continued exposure to produce is resulting in more children eating at least some of it. LA Times

Morning Read: Less than 40% of Students are College Ready

College-Readiness not keeping up in California
Fewer than 4 in 10 California high school students are completing the requirements to be eligible for the state’s public universities, fueling worries of a shortage of college-educated workers when the value of a bachelor’s degree has never been higher.To meet entrance requirements, high school students must complete 15 classes with a grade of C or better, including foreign language, lab science, intermediate algebra, and visual or performing arts. KNBC

Teacher, student fight caught on camera

A Santa Monica High School teacher and wrestling coach caught on cell phone videos fighting with a student Friday was placed on leave pending an investigation into the incident, the school district superintendent announced.According to a letter sent to parents by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon, no one was injured in the classroom confrontation between teacher Mark Black and a student whose name has not been released. KNBC

Common Core has students writing — on just about every subject
Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, the curriculum standards known as the Common Core stress the importance of students’ putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) across all subject areas. The standards also specify that students — even those in the youngest grades — should cite evidence from readings as they write, and not just invent stories or opine based on prior knowledge. The Common Core, adopted by most states, does not constitute a federal curriculum or mandate specific readings. Hechinger Report

Common core or SMARTER Balanced? Maybe it’s neither
As the state steps back to revise its assessment of the school accountability system with the advent of common core and SMARTER Balanced assessments, there is an opportunity for legislators and officials to reconsider policies related to testing students with disabilities. S&I Cabinet Report

Under new law, school nurses aim to stop rise in vaccination opt-outs
In her 33 years as a school nurse, Robyn Ettl has listened, sometimes quietly, sometimes not, to parents in rural Nevada County explain why their children don’t need vaccinations against contagious and potentially fatal diseases, including polio, diphtheria, measles and pertussis. Now, with nearly a half a million 5-year-olds and soon-to-be-5-year-olds registering for kindergarten in the fall, school nurses like Ettl are more invested than ever in a delicate task: trying to change the minds of parents intent on opting out of school-entrance immunizations. EdSource

Morning Read: Teacher retirement fund faces $74B deficit

Funding gap threatens retirement for California teachers
The pension fund for public school teachers in California faces a long-term shortfall of $74 billion, threatening its ability to pay for the retirement of nearly 1 million teachers and administrators in the nation’s most populous state, officials said on Thursday. The gap is growing by about $15 million per day, the California State Teachers Retirement System said in a written statement, and the system could run out of money in 32 years. Reuters

LA schools enjoy steep increase in revenues from film shoots
The Los Angeles Unified School District has found an unusual solution to at least some of its budget woes – selling more licenses to film production companies. Filming fees are up 40 percent for the district, according to figures released by school administration Thursday. The district has grossed approximately $8,924,000 since 2010, when its most recent contract with FilmLA went into effect. KPCC

Charters seek compromise on governance transparency
Charter schools, which often operate as both a private non-profit and a publicly-funded agency, reside in a sort of legal no-man’s land as it relates to the state’s open meeting and good governance laws. Efforts to simply extend the Brown Act, the Public Records Act and the Political Reform Act to charters has failed in the past – largely because the rigid requirements don’t mesh well with fundamental tenants of the charter movement that give the schools freedom and flexibility. S&I Cabinet Report

Officials discuss facilities maintenance in new spending plans
The Center for Cities and Schools at UC Berkeley hosted a webinar today to address how districts should meet the healthy school facilities’ goal in the new Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), which are mandated under the state’s new funding formula. More than 100 people across the state, including district administrators, registered for the discussion. EdSource

Why Vergara is a loser for both sides
Commentary: The two contending sides wrapped up their cases last week in Vergara vs California, the education lawsuit being tried in Judge Rolf Treu’s Los Angeles Superior Courtroom. Treu has ninety days to make his ruling. But from our perspective this is a case that the plaintiffs can’t win and the defendants will lose regardless of the outcome. EdWeek

Morning Read: Tracking $13 billion (so far) from Prop 30

How California schools spent $13 billion generated by Prop 30
The California State Controller’s Office launched a website Wednesday tracking how money from Prop 30 is being spent by charter schools, school districts and community colleges. The measure was approved in November of 2012 and has since pulled in $13.1 billion for teachers, textbooks and general operations, according to the site. But the new funds hardly outweigh the overall cuts to education funding since the recession. KPCC

Public housing authorities pilot education programs
In an effort to improve literacy rates among children from low-income families, public housing authorities across the state are piloting programs that help parents prepare their children for school and increase their access to books. EdSource

Westside subway survives legal challenge from Beverly Hills
Knocking down one of the last hurdles for Los Angeles’ long-awaited Westside subway extension, a judge ruled late Wednesday that transit officials followed environmental laws when choosing a route that will require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. LA Times

EpiPen legislation for California schools advances
A bill to increase the prevalence of emergency epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, in California schools would not have helped Natalie Giorgi, who died from an allergic reaction after biting into a Rice Krispies treat at Camp Sacramento last year. Merced Sun-Star

Kill tenure, cure schools?
Commentary: Without a doubt, California’s poor and minority schoolchildren get more than their share of ineffective, unmotivated and demoralized teachers. But are the state laws governing teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs now under attack in a Los Angeles court case the real cause of the inequities? And if so, do they violate both the equal protection guarantees and the right-to-education provisions of the California Constitution? LA Times

Morning Read: LAUSD wasting $100,000 of food daily

Solutions sought to reduce food waste at schools
And so it goes on hundreds of campuses in Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system, which serves 650,000 meals a day. Students throw out at least $100,000 worth of food a day — and probably far more, according to estimates by David Binkle, the district’s food services director. LA Times

LAUSD investigates as Sunny Brae Elementary principal is removed 
Sunny Brae Avenue Elementary Principal Jeff Hum was removed amid allegations of misconduct, LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman said. Waldman didn’t outline when or why Hum was dismissed. A press release from United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing more than 30,000 teachers and other education workers, indicated Hum was removed from his post in late February. LA Daily News

U.S. teens better problem solvers than expected in latest international test
Compared with their peers in developed nations, American 15-year olds are slightly above average problem solvers, but not as good as students from Asian nations who regularly shellac them in math, reading and science tests, according to the results of a new international assessment released today. EdSource

Bill aims to boost Growth of high-quality charter schools

States and districts would be encouraged to help grow high-quality charter schools—and ensure that they enroll and retain English-language learners and students in special education—under a rare, bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel. EdWeek

California kids’ access to health, education impacted by race
California’s African American, Latino, and American Indian children lag far behind white and Asian children in access to health and education opportunities, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, based in Baltimore. Stockton Record


Morning Read: Education Advisor seat still left unfilled

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s approach to LAUSD draws mixed reviews
Two weeks after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s top education adviser left City Hall, there are no immediate plans to fill the position, a sign of the mayor’s hands-off approach to the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Daily News

Superintendent’s pay in South Bay district called ‘excessive’
“I don’t know of anybody, in any major city, who makes anything close to that, even with extra bonuses or compensation,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, based in Washington.California Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called Fernandez’s compensation package at Centinela Valley Union High School District “wrong, significantly excessive, unreasonable.” LA Times

Vergara time bomb: Will a judge tear down CA teacher protection laws?
Important attendees filed into Los Angeles Superior Courthouse’s extra large Room 222, where the Michael Jackson trial was held, to hear closing arguments in Vergara v. California, a civil suit that could completely upend public education in California – and possibly the U.S. – by making it easier to fire ineffective teachers. LA Weekly

Pencils down, iPads up! LA schools’ new exam strategy put to the test
Gone are the No. 2 pencils and eye-crossing bubble sheets — Los Angeles Unified schools will begin piloting a new state exam on Tuesday, administered entirely by computer. Students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will be the only ones  trying out the new test, designed by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium to measure mastery of the new Common Core standards. KPCC

Morning Read: CA teachers visit parents and students at home

Teachers make house calls to improve performance
Parent-teacher interaction at most schools centers around annual conferences where mom or dad come to the classroom and sit for an hour listening to an educator talk about how their child is performing. More and more, however, districts across the nation are seeing great gains in student achievement by employing a different model of family engagement – teacher home visits. S&I Cabinet Report

Governor Brown proclaims Monday ‘Cesar Chavez Day’
California Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed Monday, March 31, 2014 as Cesar Chavez Day in the state. The Governor praised the late and lauded civil rights activist for his tireless efforts in advancing the cause of all people but especially farm workers. CBS Local

Union fights new plan to address low-performing schools
Even as the district rolls out the plan, the teachers union – which never signed on – is fighting to stop it. The Sacramento City Teachers Association, in particular, objects to a promise that Sacramento City Unified and seven other districts made to link student test scores to teacher evaluations. Merced Sun-Star

Pre-K Suspension data prompt focus on intervention
New data showing that thousands of children—including a disproportionate number of boys and black children—are suspended from school before reaching kindergarten have researchers and policymakers asking tough questions about pre-K discipline, and highlighting programs that help keep challenging children in preschool. EdWeek

Study marks problems posed by inexperienced teachers
A nationwide survey found the high number of inexperienced teachers in public classrooms is a largely unrecognized problem that undermines school stability, slows educational reform and, according to new research, hurts student achievement. S&I Cabinet Report

Morning Read: Students try to preserve education grants

Ag students rally in Sacramento to preserve education grants
Concerns about future funding for high school agricultural classes and leadership programs are being voiced throughout California—and nowhere louder than at the state Capitol, where thousands of students and members of Future Farmers of America rallied last week to try to prevent elimination of the state’s $4.1 million Agricultural Education Incentive Grant program. Sierra Sun Times

California Report: Don’t spend new education money on campus police
A policy brief released this month urges California school districts to reject beefing up campus police forces and security when they start receiving substantial funding aimed at improving education for needy kids. Truthout

Sandra Fluke wants political debut as Santa Monica, Southbay state senator
Activist and attorney Sandra Fluke was faced with a choice in January when Congressman Henry Waxman announced he would retire after 40 years of representing Santa Monica and West Los Angles in Washington. Should she enter what promised to be a crowded race to replace the veteran lawmaker? Or, should she try for something more local? Santa Monica Lookout

Supporters respond to Common Core Question that went viral
A frustrated father posted a subtraction problem from his second-grade son’s math quiz on Facebook this week with a note to the teacher calling it ridiculous. Conservative pundits, including Glenn Beck, seized on it as evidence that the new standards are nonsensical and “stupid,” adding more fuel to the backlash against the Common Core as it rolls out in schools across the country. Hechinger Report

Inside the Koch brothers’ plot to transform higher education
In all, two of the six private charitable foundations the Koch brothers control and personally fund combined in 2012 to infuse colleges and universities with more than $12.7 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internal Revenue Service tax filings. Salon

Morning Read: New law could make preschool universal in CA

New legislation could bring universal preschool to California
When over 200 parents showed up for a recent informational meeting at Lynwood Unified’s school district office, Kavin Dotson was amazed. The district wanted to explain the enrollment process to families of prospective transitional kindergarten students. Dotson only expected about 40 parents. KPCC

California case challenges teacher job protection laws
Closing arguments were set to begin Thursday in a closely watched California legal case that could change the way public school teachers are hired and fired in the most populous U.S. state. The two-month trial focused on the question of whether five laws meant to protect teachers’ jobs are unfair to poor and minority children because, for a variety of reasons, they lead to instability at schools in troubled neighborhoods and protect the jobs of older teachers even if they are ineffective. Reuters

Education Technology Startups Raised Over Half A Billion Dollars In Q1
Education technology-focused startups raised over $500 million already in the first quarter of 2014, marking the single biggest quarter for capital committed to the sector in the past five years. What began as a trickle in 2009, with 20 companies raising over $64 million at the beginning of the year, is now a flood as funding leapt to $500 million in 99 venture-backed startups, according to CrunchBase data. TechCrunch

LAUSD nixes school relocation at Van Ness
Approximately three weeks after the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) proposed locating a charter school on the Frances Blend School/Van Ness Avenue Elementary School campus, the district opted not to follow through with the proposal. In a letter to parents dated March 12, a LAUSD Facilities Services Division representative stated that, due to its recently integrated program, Van Ness Elementary would not be offered as a Prop. 39 co-location for the 2014-2015 school year. Beverly Press

Uniform standards urged for reclassifying English learners
School districts have discretion in determining when English learners can be reclassified as proficient in English, meaning they no longer need help in gaining fluency. But the different criteria that districts use and wide disparities in reclassification rates among districts have prompted Sen. Alex Padilla, D-San Fernando Valley, to call for consistency. EdSource

Morning Read: UC finance chief heading group to help LA kids

UC financial chief leaving to head up educational foundation
Peter Taylor, the UC system’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, said Tuesday that he is leaving the university to run a Los Angeles-based education foundation that will focus on helping low- income students succeed in K-12 schools and college. LA Times

San Juan district selects Kern as superintendent
Kent A. Kern, interim leader of San Juan Unified schools, was named superintendent Tuesday night, closing a tumultuous chapter in district leadership. Sacramento Bee

NAEP Provides Vehicle for Study of Read-Aloud Option
Having teachers read aloud a reading-comprehension test to students with disabilities and English-language learners offers a boost in scores without altering what the test is trying to measure, according to a study of about 2,000 California 4th and 8th graders who were given the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, in 2013. EdWeek

Calif. Testing Waiver Draws Civil Rights Concerns
The U.S. Department of Education’s sweeping decision to let California avoid making new school accountability decisions until 2016, as the state moves to new common-core-aligned assessments, worries civil rights officials who argue that it could jeopardize everything from who gets special education services in that state to how English-learners are classified. EdWeek

How do we know that Race to the Top worked?
The Obama administration is announcing major progress this week as its signature education policy, the Race to the Top competition, winds down and the money runs out. Many states that won a federal grant in the $4 billion program that is now entering its fourth year have followed through on promises to adopt the Common Core State Standards. The Hechinger Report

Morning Read: Hudley-Hayes’ credentials older than memory

LA school board candidate responds to questions about credentials
L.A. Unified school board candidate Genethia Hudley-Hayes is fighting allegations she falsified her academic credentials. She is one of seven candidates vying for the seat of former board member Marguerite LaMotte, who died in December. KPCC

California schools are rolling out new standardized tests
Schools across California are set to begin administering new standardized tests Tuesday that are designed to demand more of students and offer a clearer picture of how much they are learning. LA Times

Teachers renewing credential must sign abuse reporting form, bill proposes
Every five years when renewing their credentials, California school employees will be required to read and sign a document that lays out the requirements for them to report suspicions of child abuse, if newly crafted state legislation is approved.San Jose Mercury

Mixed results for charter schools statewide in new study
Earlier this month, a research institute at Stanford University affiliated with the Hoover Institution reported that students at independent charter schools in Los Angeles performed a lot better than their peers in traditional Los Angeles Unified District schools. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has now released a report for California as a whole, and the results are mixed.EdSource

Title IX compliance would be element of school performance
In a significant departure from how school performance has been judged in the past, legislation introduced late last week would add to the matrix an assessment of how well a school ensures that boys and girls have equal access to all programs and services. AB 2512 would require that data from schools be included in both the Academic Performance Index and Local Control Accountability Plans showing their compliance with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.S&I Cabinet Report

Morning Read: Common Core computer tests begin this week

Ready, set … California schools finally start new computer test this week
The new Common Core tests are one of the biggest transitions in state public education in recent memory. California schools have spent nearly two years preparing for this moment: buying computers, upgrading internet access and in some cases hiring extra IT workers. But parents shouldn’t worry too much. Results this year don’t count for schools or kids. KPCC

El Camino Real, Granada Hills Charters Headed to US Academic Decathlon
Los Angeles’ El Camino Real Charter High School is the winner of the 2014 California Academic Decathlon, officials in Sacramento announced Sunday. The school beat out 64 other schools in the weekend competition with a score of 57,747.3 out of a possible 65,400 points, officials said. NBC Local

Federal data finds non-white, disabled students disciplined more harshly
In a far-reaching national survey of how students of different races and students with disabilities are faring at school, the federal government reported Friday that widespread disparities exist in discipline practices, with students of color and students with disabilities subject to harsher penalties. EdSource

Legislators to state board: Consider changes to school funding rules
Non-profits and community groups that want to tighten the Local Control Funding Formula regulations to ensure more money will go to minority students have enlisted an influential ally: legislators. One quarter of the 120 members of the Legislature wrote to State Board of Education President Michael Kirst this week urging the board to adopt changes to the regulations that mirror what many of the advocacy organizations are recommending. EdSource

Schools serving as enrollment hubs for Obamacare
Sacramento high school student Juzely Duran is all in. So is state schools chief Tom Torlakson.Each in their own way is supporting the “All In for Health” campaign, a major effort aimed at using schools as a conduit for helping hundreds of thousands of uninsured students, parents and employees sign up for health benefits under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. S&I Cabinet Report