A few words on public education from Governor Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

In his State of the State address today, Gov. Jerry Brown spent a few minutes talking about public education in California. Here’s what he had to say:

“Last year, I spoke of the principle of subsidiarity, a rather clunky word that nevertheless points to a profoundly important principle, namely that in our federal system there are separate layers of government, each with its own distinct responsibilities. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a “central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.”

 No better example of this can be found than in your enactment last year of the Local Control Funding Formula. This was a major breakthrough in the way funds are allocated to California’s schools so that our laws explicitly recognize the difficult problems faced by low-income families and those whose first language is other than English. As a result, those with less are going to receive more and that is good for all of us.

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Just In: CA Ballot Initiative to Target Sex Abusers in Schools

imgres-1A new proposed statewide ballot initiative that would allow school districts to fire employees accused of abusing children or selling drugs to children has been submitted for certification and could go before voters a year from now.

LA School Report has learned that the initiative, called “Stop Child Molesters, Sexual Abusers, and Drug Dealers from Working in California Schools Act,” was submitted to state officials by a Sacramento law firm that specializes in campaign and election law — Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP.

The proposed initiative contends that state laws “do not enable school districts to expeditiously and permanently protect innocent students and staff from school employees who perpetrate acts of child molestation, sexual abuse, drug dealing, and other egregious misconduct.”

The measure was filed on Tuesday through a letter to the state Attorney General’s office and it comes just weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 375, a bill intended to streamline the teacher dismissal process. AB 375, in part, grew out of an earlier bill from Senator Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, which was introduced in the wake of the Miramonte Elementary school sexual abuse scandal but died in the legislature last year.

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Anger, Frustration Evident as LAUSD Officials Meet Community

Board member Marguerite LaMotte: 'We're as angry as you are.'

Board member Marguerite LaMotte: ‘We’re as angry as you are.’

One parent wanted more counselors. Another wanted more security personnel. A student came forward with a friend and said, “You’re spending all that money on iPads. We’d prefer you spend it on nurses and librarians and can you please fix the bathrooms.”

This was Tuesday night, in the auditorium of Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park. Parents, students and teachers took their concerns to a microphone, suggesting ways to slice up a $7 billion budget that includes $230 million in new revenue from Prop 30 taxes. District officials and three LA Unified Board members were there to listen.

It was democracy in action, ordinary citizens speaking to power, as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula plan for getting districts more money. But it was sad, too, as everybody seemed to know there is only so much a district can do and so many demands for so many needs.

“A lot of anger, a lot of frustration, the reality of six years of non-stop keeping schools open and everything running with fewer and fewer resources,” Megan Reilly, the district’s chief financial officer, said in an interview yesterday.

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Gov. Brown’s Veto Leaves Teacher Dismissal in Limbo*

Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

Assembly member Joan Buchanan, left, and State Senator Alex Padilla, right

Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of AB 375, a bill that would have amended California’s teacher dismissal process, doesn’t mean the effort is dead.

“The governor still wants to do something,” LA Unified’s chief lobbyist, Edgar Zazueta, told LA School Report. “I do see there will be one, if not several, efforts to do this next year. Hopefully we’re able to find somewhere in the middle, where more stakeholders can embrace final product.”

Zazueta added that Brown “always wants to make sure that all the stakeholders are on board. With 375, it was unbalanced. None of the folks who do dismissals were part of process.”

Gloria Romero, who just left California Democrats for Education Reform to start her own organization, the Foundation for Parent Empowerment, also sees a pathway forward, even if it remains uncertain who’s leading the effort.

“The stars are aligned,” she said. “There will be a very bright public spotlight on this. The legislature will have to act. The question is, who carries it this time?”

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BREAKING NEWS: Brown Vetoes Weak Teacher Dismissal Bill

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

Under mounting pressure, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a controversial bill originally meant to make it easier to dismiss teachers for abusive or inappropriate behavior. In a veto memo, Brown said he “share[s] the authors’ desire to streamline the teacher discipline process, but this bill is an imperfect solution.”

Brown Facing Pressure to Veto ‘Flawed’ Teacher Dismissal Bill

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown is facing rising opposition to a bill designed to make it easier to fire teachers accused of abusing students. Critics say it doesn’t, and that could make it harder for him to justify signing it into law. The deadline for consideration is Sunday.

Over the last few weeks, school district superintendents, education groups and newspaper editorial boards across the state have expressed their concerns, pointing out what they perceive as numerous shortcomings in the measure, AB 375, authored by Joan Buchanan, a Bay Area Democrat.

Richard Carranza, Superintendent of San Francisco Unified, wrote in SF Gate, “This bill is a classic case of good intentions to protect student safety gone awry” and pleaded with the governor to veto the bill.

In a commentary for the Modesto Bee, Cindy Marks, President of the California School Boards Association, called AB 375 “deeply flawed,” saying, “I’m unaware of any school board or superintendent who has taken a position in support of the bill. It appears no one who has investigated and removed a teacher believes AB 375 is good for schools.”

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Brown Signs AB 484, Ending Old Standardized Tests in California*

Via Governor Jerry Brown's twitter feed

Via Governor Jerry Brown’s twitter feed

The old California Standardized Tests are a thing of the past.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed Assembly Bill 484, which immediately suspends the old tests and funds a trial run this year of the new Smarter Balanced Assessments, which will be taken on computers and are aligned with the new Common Core curriculum.

“I’ve said from the beginning, California needs tests that measure how ready our students are for the challenges of a changing world,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement.

A number of groups, including Ed Voice, Educators 4 Excellence, Teach Plus, and Parent Revolution, had urged Brown to veto the new law on the grounds that it would leave school districts with a year of missing test data, which is often used to gauge the effectiveness of teachers, administrators and schools.

“At this critical juncture in our transition to Common Core, the public needs a thoughtful, rational middle approach that both gives teachers, students and parents space to adapt to new standards, and also maintains transparency for all our stakeholders,” Ama Nyamekye, executive director of Educators 4 Excellence, said in a statement. Unfortunately, AB 484 does not deliver on this important second task. By signing this bill, Governor Brown has created a black hole of information for students, parents and teachers.”

Superintendent John Deasy had also been deeply critical of the bill, on the grounds that it only funded either the math or English parts of the new Smarter Balanced Assessments. Deasy had been urging lawmakers to fund both tests.

Deasy now says that LAUSD will cover the costs of the test that the state doesn’t pay for and that he will try to find a way to use the Smarter Balanced testing data to gauge student performance.

*This adds statement from Educators 4 Excellence.

Previous posts: Coalition Calls on Gov. Brown to Veto Testing Bill, AB 484; CA Has a Plan for Using Test Scores — Even With No Tests (Updated); Superintendent Deasy Not Happy With Latest Testing BillCalifornia Could Face Year With No Meaningful Testing Data

Local Groups to LA Unified Board: Let Schools Decide Spending

LCFFA broad coalition of more than 40 community and advocacy groups is jumping into LA Unified’s prolonged spending debate, urging the board to allow individual schools, rather than centralized administrators, to decide how to spend the billions of dollars coming into the district from Gov. Jerry Brown‘s Local Control Funding Formula program.

Organized by the United Way under the acronym CLASS — Communities for Los Angeles School Success — the coalition sent a letter Friday to board President Richard Vladovic, with copies to his six colleagues, urging him to seek input from teachers, administrators and students and to give them more control over spending priorities.

“Our hope is that the final adopted budgets will truly empower local communities to make decisions that meet their needs,” said the letter, a copy of which was given to LA School Report.

The coalition, which includes the Los Angeles Urban League, Teach Plus, Alliance for a Better Community and Educators4Excellence, expressed particular concern for underserved students, those whom the LCFF initiative was designed to help most — English learners, children from foster homes and students from low-income families.

Ryan Smith of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and one of the organizers of the coalition, said that Vladovic has so far ignored efforts by CLASS to discuss local concerns and spending plans.

“It’s important for us that the district listen to community groups and adopt what they have to say,” said in an interview with LA School Report. “If not, then we have a problem.”

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CA Has a Plan for Using Test Scores — Even With No Tests (Updated)

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

While a bill awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature would end statewide testing for a year – he’s expected to sign it – state officials plan to use older test results to assure that California receives its annual Title I allocations.

To comply with federal regulations that states must provide annual test results to qualify for the money, the California Department of Education has decided to use the higher of two scores — a school’s 2012-13 API results, which were issued last month, or a three year average of the most recent APIs.

“We knew that we needed something in the law that said what are we going to do, given the fact that we won’t have English language arts and math scores for one year,” Keric Ashley, Director of Analysis, Measurement, and Accountability Reporting Division for the department of education told LA School Report.

The bill would give California school districts time to acclimate to the new Common Core State Standards curriculum and the computer-based Smarter Balanced assessments that will be used in 2015.

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Deasy, Board Plunging Back into Turbulent Budget Waters

60860834Meeting tomorrow for the second time in the new school year, the LA Unified school board will plunge back into a thorny debate over how to spend millions of new dollars flowing into the district from the state.

It might not be pretty.

Superintendent John Deasy is expected to respond to the board’s June directive to draw up a spending plan that focuses on rehiring, specifically to return the district to pre-recession school staffing levels. But Deasy’s recommendations (see powerpoint here) may not be what the board is looking for.

He is expected argue that new money should be used, instead, to close a sizable budget gap, with any leftovers going to schools with high concentrations of low-income and English learning students, and that the board’s demand to add staff and lengthen the school year could cost more than $1 billion.

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More Praise For Gov. Brown’s Funding Formula

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Governor Jerry Brown pitches his formula last month in LA — UTLA president Warren Fletcher in background

Superintendent John Deasy told LA School Report that the passage of Governor Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula was “probably the most important education public policy decision in 40 years.”

“This is beyond phenomenal,” he said. “I feel great.”

The LA Times editorial page also praised Brown this morning, saying, ”with his decisive and, yes, stubborn insistence on fixing what was so badly broken, Brown will have helped the state’s neediest children for decades to come.” The Local Control Funding Formula “could well become the great legacy of his administration.”

There are some strings attached to the new formula, notes SI&A Cabinet Report – including more stringent reporting requirements for groups of different kinds of students within schools (special education, low-income, etc.) — which will likely affect some LAUSD schools.

Previous posts: LA Unified Wins Big Under State Budget CompromiseBrown Soft-Sells School Formula in LADeasy Joins Governor’s Funding Formula OffensiveGov’s “Weighted” Funding Formula Will Transform LAUSD

LA Unified Wins Big Under State Budget Compromise

RB BudgetState lawmakers have reached an agreement with Governor Jerry Brown about how to overhaul state education funding that — while altered somewhat from Brown’s original proposal — will still be of substantial financial benefit to LAUSD.

“I applaud Governor Brown and our legislators for their work on the compromise announced on the Local Control Funding Formula,” said Superintendent John Deasy in a written statement.

The compromise language is designed to give more money all school districts while still making sure districts like LAUSD with a large concentration of low-income and English language learning students get a big boost.

Last month, Deasy said that the original Brown plan would hand LAUSD an extra $188 million in the first school year alone. The compromise version is expected to give the district roughly the same amount of money.

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LA Times: Better School Funding Formula from Brown

Brown at recent LA press event, with Deasy to the far right

Governor Brown speaking at recent LA press event, with Superintendent Deasy to the far right

Last week’s visit from Governor Jerry Brown in support of his proposed new funding formula garnered lots of media attention and the enthusiastic support of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy (who’s depending on the $188 million bump in funding for LAUSD that would come from the Brown overhaul).

But Brown hasn’t yet persuaded lawmakers in Sacramento … or the LA Times editorial page: ”The concept is spot on,” according to the Times, “but in this case the details matter too.” In particular, the Times thinks that the Brown formula isn’t generous enough to smaller districts with smaller numbers of poor students, creating funding gaps over time as large as $2,000 per kid between adjacent districts.

To read the full piece, go here:  Fairly funding California’s schools

Chart: At Least We’re Not in Illinois

Census Bureau via Wall Street Journal

The LA Times reported earlier this week that California has slipped another notch in public spending on K-12 education — from 23rd in 2008 to 35th in 2011 — part of a nationwide dip in spending reported by the Census Bureau.

At least we’re not in Illinois, where education funding dropped the most (7.4 percent) over the same time period. Still, particularly shocking was this tidbit: “The New York City school district spends twice as much per pupil on instructional salaries as does Los Angeles Unified.”

Things are likely to get better thanks to last year’s ballot measure to hike taxes for public education, and Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed formula revamp could make things even better for districts like LAUSD with lots of bilingual and poor students — if it’s approved.

Brown Soft-Sells School Formula in LA

Gov. Brown addresses reporters and photographers

Governor Jerry Brown continued to promote his Local Control Funding Formula proposal at a Friday morning press conference at East LA’s Humphreys Elementary.

Joining him was an All-Star cast that included LA Chamber of Commerce CEO Gary Toebben, United Way CEO Elise Buik, School Board member Bennett Kayser, former State Senator and City Council candidate Gil Cedillo, UTLA President Warren Fletcher, and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who (in what must be an extremely rare occurrence) introduced Fletcher to the podium as “my union president.”

The Governor presented his plan as a small but important change in how funds are allocated to districts like LA.  Deasy described its passage as a make-or-break $188 million game changer. His chief intergovernmental relations staffer noted that there were some LA-area legislators who hadn’t yet gotten behind the plan.

The Brown proposal would divert more money to school districts like LAUSD with a higher concentration of low-income students and English Language Learners.

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Deasy Joins Governor’s Funding Formula Offensive

Deasy (right) with Governor Brown yesterday (via LAT)

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy was in Sacramento Wednesday for a press conference in support of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to shift more funding to school districts like LAUSD that have large numbers of poor and English Language Learner students.

Brown’s central message to lawmakers: resistance is futile. “If people are going to fight it, they’re going to get the battle of their lives, because I’m not going to give up until the last hour, and I’m going to fight with everything I have, and whatever we have to bring to bear in this battle, we’re bringing it,” he said.

Deasy said Brown’s proposal “brings to life the promise of equity long overdue in this state,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

Edgar Zazueta, Director of Governmental Relations for LAUSD, said he and Deasy were confident that Brown would get at least most of what he wants. “There’s still a lot of skepticism in the Assembly. But the tide is turning.”

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Morning Read: Did UTLA Leaders Make a Deal With Candidate?

Rumor of Deal Roils Teachers Union
The leadership of the Los Angeles teachers union is roiled over whether its officials made a private deal with a Board of Education candidate whom critics view as an ally of anti-labor forces. LA Times


New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Donates $350,000 to LAUSD Reformer’s Campaign
With the runoff now less than a month away, Bloomberg has given the coalition an additional $350,000 – again at Villaraigosa’s request – to support the election of Antonio Sanchez to the District 6 seat. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report


Teacher Evaluation Bill Opposed by Unions Dies in Committee
Legislation that would have required more frequent evaluations of educators was killed by a state Senate committee Wednesday under strong opposition from teachers’ unions. LA Times
See also: LA School Report, SI&A Cabinet Report


Jerry Brown Vows Battle With Democratic Critics of Education Plan
Gov. Jerry Brown offered a spirited defense of his plan to overhaul the state’s education system Wednesday and warned Democratic critics of his plan that they were “going to get the battle of their lives” if they attempt to change key parts of his proposal. LA Times
See also: EdSource, Fresno Bee

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Morning Read: State & District Graduation Rates Rise

Graduations Up, Dropouts Down in LAUSD, Statewide
High school graduation rates for Los Angeles Unified and districts across California increased last year, with Latino students showing larger gains than their white and Asian classmates, the state Department of Education said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, KPCC


Villaraigosa Criticizes Mayoral Candidates Over Education Goals
In the last major speech of his mayoral career, Antonio Villaraigosa chastised the two politicians seeking to replace him for not laying out visionary education goals, urging the candidates to look to other big cities for inspiration. LA Daily News
See also: Associated PressLA School Report


The Greuel-Garcetti Conundrum
Here’s why two San Fernando Valley voters have switched allegiances, and why a third is still pondering. LA Times Column (Steve Lopez)


Los Angeles Unified School District Hires Security Aides to Watch for Threats
Tenth Street Elementary is in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles, a few blocks west of the Staples Center and downtown skyscrapers. It’s a tough neighborhood; school security is always an issue. KPCC


Apples to Apples Comparison of Brown’s Funding Formula
Twenty-two of the 50 largest districts in the state would receive more money under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed K-12 funding formula when it’s fully funded, potentially in seven years, while 28 districts would do better if additional money were simply divvied up under the current system, with no reforms, according to data provided this week by the state Department of Finance. EdSource
See also: SI&A Cabinet Report

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Morning Read: Parents Choose New Plan Today

24th Street Elementary Pulling Parent Trigger
The Parent Trigger at 24th Street Elementary School in West Adams keeps chugging along — despite what L.A. mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti thinks about it. LA Weekly
See also: San Bernardino Sun


New Analysis Bolsters Case Against Suspension, Researchers Say
The results of a new analysis of out-of-school-suspension data that show staggering rates of the punishment’s use at some schools are even more reason to rethink that common method of disciplining students, researchers said Monday. EdWeek
See also: KPCC, EdSource, Yahoo


LA Unified Off Track to Meet Deadline for College Prep Courses
Los Angeles Unified School District has some work ahead of it to meet its deadline for all students to pass college-preparatory classes in order to graduate. EdSource
See also: LA Daily News


California Federation of Teachers Lobbies Lawmakers
It’s lobby day for the California Federation of Teachers, which means members of the state’s second-biggest teachers union (after the California Teachers Association) are in Sacramento to petition lawmakers. Sac Bee

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Morning Read: Parents Weigh Trigger Options

Parents With Power Over L.A. School Weigh Their Options
About 50 parents on Thursday attended a presentation to help them decide who should run 24th Street Elementary School, a campus whose fate is in the hands of families who are trying to change the management of the school under the controversial parent trigger law. LA Times
See also: San Bernadino Sun, LA School Report


University Conference Hopes to Rally Southland Education Reformers
A TEDx conference at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday seeks to turn the traditional education conference on its head. Organizers believe that competing ideologies, little cooperation, and “finger-pointing” are keeping public schools in Los Angeles from improving. KPCC


U.S. Dept. of Ed. Protesters Turn Fierce Rhetoric on ‘Corporate’ Reform
As they kicked off four days of protests at the U.S. Department of Education, organizers of Occupy DOE 2.0 today used inflammatory—and, in one case, racially insulting—rhetoric to rally opposition against high-stakes testing, “corporate” education reform, and the “dismantling of public education.” EdWeek


Brown’s Funding Plan Faces Vigorous Review – and Speed Bump
The chair of the Assembly Education Committee turned Gov. Jerry Brown’s comprehensive plan for education finance reform into bill form Thursday, ensuring that all aspects will get an extensive review, while raising the possibility that the plan may not pass in time to take effect July 1, as the governor wants. EdSource

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