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Morning Read: LAUSD retiree health benefits costs grow to $15.2 billion — and 8 more must-reads

LA School Report | April 19, 2018



Good morning! 9 must-reads for you, to start the day:

LAUSD’s Unfunded Health Liabilities Grow To $15.2 Billion As Board Interviews Final Superintendent Candidates

On a day when LAUSD Board Members met behind closed doors to interview the final candidates for a new superintendent to lead the district, LAUSD released a new report showing that the unfunded liability for retiree health benefits has now grown by nearly $2 billion to $15.2 billion.

The Board members did not publicly discuss the new actuarial valuation report showing a massive spike (from $13.6 billion to $15.2 billion) in what it owes for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB), which are the promises made to retirees and future retirees to cover their healthcare.

But the report, submitted during the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, paints a picture of a worsening financial situation that threatens the solvency of LAUSD. Because LAUSD has failed to put aside enough money to pay for retiree health benefits and simply cannot afford to pay as it goes, the district faces the threat of bankruptcy. The unfunded liability also threatens the quality of education students receive as a larger percentage of the budget flows outside the classroom every year – leaving less for student programs. By Leslee Komaiko and Jenny Hontz, Speak UP

The power game behind the search for a new L.A. schools leader, Los Angeles Times

Big money from charter backers has potential to reshape governor’s race, Los Angeles Daily News

California’s poor students rank next to last on national test, The Mercury News

California to get huge boost in child care funds from federal budget, EdSource

Senate Confirms Nominee to Be Top Attorney at DeVos Education Department, Politics K-12

A Civil Rights Activist Filed Thousands of Disability Complaints. Now the Education Department Is Trying to Shut Her Down, The 74

Most Teenagers Are Scared of a Shooting in Their Schools and So Are Their Parents, Education Week

OPINION: Six decades later, Brown v. Board of Education ruling is still only an aspiration, Hechinger Report

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See previous morning roundups below:


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18: LAUSD board meets privately with superintendent candidates

Good morning! 8 must-reads for you, to start the day:

L.A. school board meets privately with finalists and debates choice for school district leader

The Los Angeles Board of Education adjourned late Tuesday after spending more than 10 hours interviewing candidates and trying to reach a decision on who would be the next leader of the nation’s second-largest school system. When the meeting finally recessed at 10:11 p.m., a spokesman announced only that the school board would reconvene Friday at noon. Going into the day’s meetings, there were apparently four finalists, according to sources who could not be named because they were unauthorized to speak. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

African-American students would get extra aid under California’s K-12 funding formula in proposal before Legislature, EdSource

Child poverty drops in California, but is still the nation’s highest, EdSource

New Research: As Enrollment in Public Pre-K Surges, Quality Fails to Keep Pace, The 74

Bay Area district links with start-up to help educators buy homes, EdSource

What Principals Really Think About Tech, Education Week

Here’s How the Public Views Teachers, Their Salaries, and Their Impact, Politics K-12

Google Puts the Pedal to the Metal for Rural Students With Expansion of Free School Bus Wifi Into 12 More States, The 74


TUESDAY, APRIL 17: Beutner becomes top pick for LAUSD superintendent

Good morning! 8 must-reads for you, to start the day:

Beutner emerges as a top pick for L.A. schools superintendent amid last-minute jockeying

Austin Beutner has emerged as a leading contender to run the Los Angeles school district, with backers saying he is smart enough and tough enough to confront its financial and academic struggles.

Though he does not have a background in education, the former investment banker has in the last year examined some of the district’s intractable problems, serving as co-chair of an outside task force with the support of then-Supt. Michelle King.

Sources inside and outside the school district said Beutner appears to have more support on the seven-member board than other finalists, and his name could come up for a vote as early as Tuesday. By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Two-Thirds of California Voters Say Education Is a ‘Very Important’ Issue in Governor’s Race, Survey FindsThe 74

Big money from charter backers has potential to reshape governor’s raceEdSource

National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of NothingReal Clear Education

Do high school dual enrollment courses mean college credit? Read the fine print. The Washington Post

President George W. Bush Reflects on the Lasting Impact of No Child Left Behind at ASU+GSV: ‘For the First Time, in Return for Money, People Had to Show Results,’ The 74

Is Your Body Appropriate to Wear to School? The New York Times

Crowding Out K-12 EducationThe Wall Street Journal


MONDAY, APRIL 16: California’s poor students rank next to last on national test

Good morning! 7 must-reads for you, to start the day:

California’s poor students rank next to last on national test

California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics. Congratulations, folks. We beat Alaska.

These students’ lackluster scores on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress come despite the state’s $31.2 billion investment in their learning under a new school funding method championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. And although the average California fourth-grader from a low-income family scored a few points higher on this most recent test than a decade ago, poor students’ scores on the test have declined since the state’s investment. By Jessica Calefati, CALmatters

California’s plan for Every Student Succeeds Act heads to Betsy DeVos for approval, EdSource

New study shows kids who struggle with ‘executive function’ may be five times more likely to experience academic difficulties, The 74

LAUSD school workers vote to authorize strike, NBCLosAngeles

After walkouts, U.S. teachers eye elections for school funding gains, Reuters via Topsheet.com

From public housing to college: new national pilot helps low-income students in LA make that journey, EdSource

After surviving classroom shooting, L.A. teacher reconsiders what school safety means, Education Week


FRIDAY, APRIL 13: California ranks low in academic testing

California again ranks low in academic testing

There was a bit of good news for California in the federal government’s latest round of academic test results: it’s one of seven states that registered four-point gains in reading comprehension among eighth-graders. But that positive morsel in the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing of fourth- and eighth-graders released this week was more than offset by stagnation in other overall trends and, even more unfortunately, by continuation of what educators call the “achievement gap.” That is the yawning differential of academic skills within socioeconomic and ethnic  subgroups.

Take, for example, that increase in eighth grade reading, from a 2015 score of 259 on a 500-point scale to 263 in 2017. That’s still below the designated “proficiency” level for the nation of 280 and while California’s average scores for white and Asian students reach that level, those for black and Latino students are about 30 points lower, a gap that is fundamentally unchanged over the last 10 years of NAEP testing. Not surprisingly, eighth grade “English-learners” in California fall 50 points behind students deemed to be proficient in English. By Dan Walters, CALmatters

California education officials finally agree on a plan to meet key federal requirements, Los Angeles Times

DeVos: ‘We are still a nation at risk,’ The 74

Averting a strike, teachers reach tentative agreement on contract with California’s largest online charter school, EdSource

Arizona teachers continue to demand raises, better school funding, PBS

Campaign underway in California to elect a ‘children’s governor,’ EdSource

Testing: For kids in traditional schools, it can be a challenge. For some kids and parents in online schools, it’s a nightmare, The 74

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