Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks about education reform during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, May 29, 2009. Duncan said this is a time of educational crisis, as well as economic crisis, and that we will have to educate our way to a better economy.
Ending a months long standoff between federal and state officials, the U.S. Department of Education on Friday told California education officials they approve of the state’s plan to administer only portions of new standardized tests this year - and not reporting the results.
In a letter to the California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and President of the State Board of Education, U.S. Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle granted a one-year waiver to seven federal testing requirements.
“I hope you find this flexibility helpful,” Delisle wrote.
It’s an about face from the department’s position last September, when U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan threatened to withhold as much as $3 billion in federal education funding, saying the state's plan to limit testing and keep results secret violated federal law.
Kelly Hogaboom/ Flickr
The Los Angeles Unified School District is rush ordering tens of thousands of earbuds - a necessary accessory for students to take standardized tests next month.
Lisa Karahalios, a teacher who sits on the school board's Common Core Technology Project Ad Hoc Committee, pointed out at a meeting this week that the district's January purchase of 45,000 iPads for new digital tests neglected to include headphones.
“Part of the English test is auditory," Karahalios said. "So headphones versus earbuds? Do you have an RFP out for that? Have you made a decision?"
It's not the first rush order. The district had to quickly buy keyboards last year for use on the tests, too.
Officials did not budget for the keyboards or headphones in iPad purchases last fall. The keyboards cost about $24 each. The earbuds are coming in $1.25 each.
Centinela Valley Union High School District
Jose A. Fernandez, superintendent, Centinela Valley High School District
Prompted by reports in the Daily Breeze last month that the Centinela Valley Superintendent was paid $663,365 in total compensation as the top executive of the 6,637 student high school district, Torrance area state assemblyman Al Muratsuchi has introduced a bill that would prevent excessive school superintendent salaries.
“I want to set up a system so that we can prevent abuse and ensure greater transparency and accountability in school districts throughout the state,” Muratsuchi said in a written statement.
The bill would require county offices of education to review superintendent compensation each year, a web site posting of superintendent compensation, and restrict school districts from giving low interest home loans - one of the things that boosted Jose Fernandez' pay so much.
Early education advocates were thrilled at the $75 billion President Barack Obama proposed Tuesday to spend on their cause over the next 10 years - even though the budget is unlikely to pass as is.
Alex Morales, CEO of the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, said the president's proposed expansion - to $1.3 billion next year to implement universal preschool and expand other programs - would be a game changer for the poor families his organization serves.
“These are predominantly families living on one to two thousand dollars per month,” Morales said. “Having more resources, allowing the availability of quality childcare would be very meaningful in our neighborhoods.”
The President requested the same thing last year, to no avail.
“The preschool for all matching is still funded by the pretty unpopular tobacco tax increase,” said Clara McCann, of the New America Foundation. “There’s not a lot here that is going to make Republicans in the House change their mind about how they feel about it.”