So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

New CA law ensures public school students aren't charged illegal fees

school supplies

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

A bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this weekend ensures that public school students are not being charged illegal fees to participate in educational activities.

A bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this weekend will help ensure that public school districts don't charge students illegal fees to participate in educational activities.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California and the law firm Morrison & Foerster announced Monday that in response to the new law they will dismiss their class action lawsuit, Doe vs. State of California, filed two years ago. The suit alleged that the imposition of such fees violated the California Constitution, which has provided for "free school" since 1879.

AB 1575, authored by Democratic state Assemblyman Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, requires the California Department of Education to provide guidance and updates on the "free schools guarantee" to superintendents and administrators every three years starting in 2014.


US grant funds $20,000 teacher bonuses at 'high-need' LA schools

Deasy walks campus

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

LAUSD plans to give $20,000 bonuses to up to 80 "effective" science, technology, math, engineering and special ed teachers who agree to teach at 40 high-need schools under a new federal grant.

Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent John Deasy said that a $49 million federal grant awarded to the district this week to improve teacher effectiveness will help pay for a new multiple-measure teacher evaluation system and more professional development programs, including a bonus for certain teachers at high-need schools.

The five-year grant includes an initial $16 million; more money would follow based on availability and the district's progress. The grant award details say the school district can use Teacher Incentive Fund grants to support performance-based pay for effective principals and teachers in 40 "high-need schools." 

The district plans to use effective educators as coaches and models for their peers' professional development. Teachers who are experts in their subjects will provide coaching based on information from the evaluation.


Governor signs off on California community colleges reforms

California University Cuts

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott told lawmakers that budget cuts to the community colleges have increased class size and made it more difficult for students to get into classes while appearing before a joint legislative hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. A new law Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday will help address that.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Thursday that will improve student orientation, create a common assessment, and require students to maintain their grades to receive fee waivers at the California community colleges.

SB 1456, authored by Democratic state Sen. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, provides for an intensive orientation to help students establish their educational goals, and the creation of a common assessment that would be administered to students at the start of their studies at one of the campuses.

A common assessment would allow students to take courses at more than one community college, especially as course offerings dwindle, without having to take an assessment at each one.

The law also requires students receiving the Board of Governors' fee waiver to maintain certain academic goals to continue to qualify; if they are on probation for two consecutive semesters, the students would no longer be eligible.


Community college board prioritizes registering new, continuing students

Jack Scott, California Community Colleges

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott talks about the impact of the state's budget crisis on the nation's largest higher education system. Scott has championed the effort to streamline the path to student graduation, certification and transfer.

When it came time to enroll for his community college courses for this year, Rich Copenhagen didn't have the money. So, like many students, he waited. By the time he could enroll, he was "wait-listed" - on the list of students who might get into the class if someone drops.

"It was a little bit terrifying when I was trying to register for classes," said Copenhagen, 22, who is president of the Student Senate for the California Community Colleges. "Everything has got the yellow warning sign that it’s 'wait-listed' and everything else is closed."

Copenhagen got his classes, but many students don't.

After repeated rounds of state budget cuts, colleges have had to reduce course offerings - shutting out more students.

In the academic years from 2008 to 2011, community college enrollment dropped by 500,000 students, said Paige Marlatt Dorr, a system spokeswoman. Last year, California's community colleges had to turn away 200,000 students who could't get into a single course, she said.


Manhattan Beach Unified, teachers reach tentative deal


Manhattan Beach Unified School District and its teachers' union have reached a tentative agreement on a contract but would not talk about details until it's approved.

The Manhattan Beach Unified School District and its teachers' union reached a tentative agreement on a contract late Thursday but would not provide any details until the deal is ratified, officials said Friday.

Teachers plan to meet at 3 p.m. to discuss the details of the tentative agreement, said Shawn Chen, a union organizer and English teacher at Mira Costa High. The district and union began talks with a state mediator Thursday after the district declared an impasse in July.

The union's negotiating tactics since then have drawn some fire from the community. It has told its roughly 300 members to not write students their college letters of recommendation, to not open their classrooms before and after class or during lunch, to not sponsor or advise clubs, and to not perform any additional duties.