In Partnership with The 74

Morning Read: One California district leads the way on new science standards — and 6 more must-reads

LA School Report | December 11, 2017



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

How one California school district is leading the way on new science standards

As schools nationwide take on the most comprehensive overhaul of science standards in 20 years, a school district in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles has become a pace-setter.  Without relying on outside funding, or major grant money, Torrance Unified has trained more than 500 teachers and has unveiled the new standards to all 24,000 students in the district.

By devoting thousands of hours to teacher training, the district has shown teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade how to explain scientific phenomenon in a new way to their students — by letting the students discover the answers on their own, instead of memorizing facts from a textbook. “We feel science is the center of a good education, so this has been a priority for us from the beginning. But there are fundamental things we’ve done that all districts can do,” said Amy Argento, one of three classroom science teachers the district assigned to train their colleagues. By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

Federal government changes position in court case over teachers union dues, The 74

Even as schools are closed amid firestorms, campus kitchens remain open, Los Angeles Times

School closures continue in Santa Barbara, Newsweek

Betsy DeVos commentary: ‘Tolerating low expectations for children with disabilities must end’, Education Week

Third indication U.S. educational system is deteriorating, Hechinger Report

Testing. Suspensions. College-level materials. How ESSA could change your classroom, The 74

Get the morning must-reads, as well as new education news and analysis from across Los Angeles, straight to your inbox. Sign up for the LA School Report newsletter.

See previous morning roundups below.


FRIDAY, DEC. 8: One in 4 California school districts required to get county help 

One in 4 California school districts required to get county help based on new state performance data 

One in 4 California school districts received notice that they must work with county offices of education or with a new state agency to improve the education of at least one of their student groups that were ranked among the worst performers on the California School Dashboard, a new school and district grading system released on Thursday. By John Fensterwald, EdSource

Who gets suspended in Los Angeles? And what for?, School Data Nerd

Commentary: California’s school duel headed for new arena, CALmatters

State updates school data: here’s how the school dashboard works, EdSource

Federal Government Switches Sides, Joins Argument for Striking Down Mandatory Dues in Janus Case, The 74

Sen. Al Franken, LGBT Student Rights Advocate and DeVos Critic, Will Resign, Politics K-12

The Republican Tax Plan Is an Early Christmas Gift for Betsy DeVos, Mother Jones

A Few PIRLS of Wisdom on New Reading Results, Cato


THURSDAY, DEC. 7: 265 LAUSD schools close from wildfires

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

Fires close 265 L.A. Unified schools; Santa Monica-Malibu closures continue

All Los Angeles Unified schools in the San Fernando Valley as well as 17 schools on the city’s Westside will be closed for the rest of the week, district officials announced Wednesday afternoon. The decision closes at least 265 schools in neighborhoods affected by the wildfires raging in and near Los Angeles. The district’s number doesn’t include all adult schools and charter schools, some of which are also expected to close. By Joy Resmovits and Anna M. Phillips, Los Angeles Times

LAUSD To Parents: Better Student Attendance Would Save MillionsSpeak Up

California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action”EdSource

Public charter high school on Oracle campus to open in JanuaryMercury News

Is Teacher Recertification Broken?EdWeek

50 Years After Latin Disappeared from High School Classrooms, These Educators Are Bringing It BackThe 74

What the latest research really says about LGBT youth in schoolsWashington Post


WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6: New lawsuit says California children can’t read, and the state doesn’t have an adequate plan to fix it

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

California isn’t doing enough to teach kids how to read, lawsuit says

Too many California children can’t read, and the state doesn’t have an adequate plan to fix the problem, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the advocacy law firm Public Counsel, alleges that the state is not meeting its constitutional responsibility to educate all children.

California lags behind the national average in both reading and writing for fourth- and eighth-graders, according to national education data. By Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

More than 50 schools in the Los Angeles area are closed today as multiple wildfires burn, Los Angeles Times

Green Dot’s Suspension Rates Continue to be Remarkably HighSchool Data Nerd

How L.A. Unified could reduce absenteeism, if it listens to outside advisorsLos Angeles Times

More than 1 in 10 California students are ‘chronically absent’EdSource

Global Reading Scores Are Rising, But Not for U.S. StudentsEducation Week

Most Pregnant and Parenting Students Don’t Graduate. Here’s How One Rhode Island High School Is Helping Its Teens Beat the OddsThe 74

The Assault On Our Education System In The House and Senate Tax Plans Will Literally KillHuffington Post


TUESDAY, DEC. 5: LAUSD talks “crazy plans” to help raise student achievement

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

Board Should ‘Push The Envelope’ To Help Kids

Board Member Richard Vladovic (BD7) said that he was “so depressed” by the dismal performance of LAUSD’s highest-need schools receiving School Improvement Grants that he’s willing to “push the envelope” and try some “crazy plans” in an attempt to make them work for kids.

“It’s such a tragedy,” he said at a special Board meeting last Tuesday. “I’m convinced it’s not all about money. The millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars we’ve spent, we made no significant difference. So it’s not what you spend, it’s how you spend it.”

Both Vladovic and Board Member George McKenna (BD1) suggested that quality teachers and accountability were crucial to raising student achievement. McKenna also said that seniority did not determine teacher quality and suggested it should not determine salaries. By Jenny Hontz, Speak UP

Governor candidates square off over education at San Diego forum, Los Angeles Times

‘I never had any teachers that looked like me.’ Fresno Unified aims for more diversity, The Fresno Bee

Coding lessons take spotlight this week across California and beyond, EdSource

Lake: In a Deeply Flawed ‘Analysis,’ the Associated Press Blames Public Charter Schools for America’s Segregated Cities, The 74

U.S. High School Graduation Rates Rise to New HighWashington Post via TopSheet.com

About 90 Percent of Puerto Rico’s Schools Are Open, But Enrollment Is Down, Politics K-12

How Effective Is Your School District? A New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most, The New York Times


MONDAY, DEC. 4: Jerry Brown’s dilemma over fixing school funding

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

Jerry Brown’s dilemma: fix school funding formula now or watch others do it later

If he chooses, Gov. Jerry Brown can leave office a year from now with the satisfaction of seeing the Local Control Funding Formula, the sweeping school funding and improvement reform he championed, intact and fully funded — at least as the 2013 law defines full funding. The question he should ask himself is whether it would be wiser to negotiate needed fixes to the law or watch the Legislature, the next governor and a new State Board of Education the new governor will appoint, start chipping away at the funding formula in ways Brown might regret.

The Local Control Funding Formula’s guiding concepts and vision aren’t in jeopardy. To a person, the cross-section of two dozen education experts, advocates and legislators that EdSource asked to suggest improvements to the law indicated that they like its ambitious goals and its focus on addressing gaps in student achievement. But most also expressed complaints about either flaws in the law or shortcomings in implementing it. By John Fensterwald, EdSource

Senate approves tax bill changing teacher deduction, expanding school choice, Washington Post via TopSheet.com

Are schools failing our boys?, The 74

These Students Are Finishing High School, But Their Degrees Don’t Help Them Go To College, Huffington Post

Nevada’s superintendent outlines 2018 education priorities for state, News and Tribune

ICYMI: California Today — The Latino Education Crisis, New York Times

Jeb Bush calls for ‘new coalition’ to reform education, The 74

Lost Einsteins: The innovations we’re missing, New York Times


FRIDAY, DEC. 1: California sues for-profit school

California Sues For-Profit School Over ‘False Promises’

California’s attorney general sued an online, for-profit university Wednesday, alleging officials made false promises to entice students and illegally tried to collect their overdue debt. The suit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra against San Diego-based Ashford University alleges the school and its publicly traded parent company, Bridgepoint Education Inc., used illegal business practices to deceive and defraud students. By Don Thompson, NBC Los Angeles

Big new elementary school in the works for Boyle Heights, The Eastsider

Ocean View schools trustee wins lawsuit against Huntington Beach over request to see employee job applicationsLos Angeles Times

The neighborhood tug-of-war over opening a Santa Monica preschool, KPCC

Wind tunnels and sheep brains: Students get their STEM wings at this L.A. school, EdSource

My School’s Great, but American Education? Not So Much. New Poll on U.S. Attitudes Suggests Public Perception ‘in a State of Flux’, The 74

Senators Fail (So Far) to Attach School Choice Measures to Tax Bill, Politics K-12

As national debate over discipline heats up, new study finds discrimination in student suspensions, Chalkbeat

Read Next