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

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.


NYC public school teachers get robust new social media guidelines

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Facebook website is shown on a laptop. The growing use of social media has led school districts across the country to examine their policies for teacher-student contact online.

New York City put out its first social media guidelines for public school teachers this week urging teachers to avoid communicating with students on sites such as Twitter and Facebook unless by a specifically designated professional account.

The robust nine-page new policy issued by the Education Department Monday is not an outright ban on social media contact with students, but instead instructs teachers to treat their professional social media space "like a classroom and/or professional workplace," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The release of social media guidelines for the nation's largest public school system comes after a spate of incidents in which the public school system's teachers and other school employees have been accused of misconduct with students. It also follows on the heels of the Los Angeles Unified School District's release of its first such guidelines in February after nine months of discussion.


Smokers will be persona non grata on all UC campuses soon

Mercer 14913

Oday Obaid/Flickr

Hospitals are increasingly saying no to hiring smokers.

Smokers won't be allowed to light up too much longer at University of California campuses.

UC President Mark Yudof announced this week that all 10 of the system's schools must ban smoking within the next two years.

UCLA went "smoke free" in certain areas of campus two months ago — specifically indoor and outdoor areas of hospitals and health sciences campuses in Westwood and Santa Monica, and also buildings along a research corridor. (Check out a map.)

The new policy has gone off without a hitch, despite some anxiety before it went into effect, said UCLA professor Timothy Fong, who was part of the task force that worked on the new policy. Now, however, he said there's been a visible increase of smoking and cigarette butts outside the smoke-free zones.

"That's all the more reason why a campus-wide effort would be a tremendous service for enforcing these policies," Fong said.