California State Assembly floor
Only one of three bills recently introduced in the state Legislature that aim to make it easier to dismiss teachers is alive today, and may continue on to change state law.
AB2028, sponsored by Republican state Assemblymen Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita and Steve Knight of the Antelope Valley, died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee today — the end of the fiscal deadline.
The bill, which was significantly amended last month, would eliminate the four-year limitation on introducing evidence to be used in proceedings and allow the dismissal process to begin during the summer.
AB2028 passed out of committee in its amended form last month, but was put "on suspense" in the Appropriations Committee because it cost more than $150,000; a hearing was held today to take bills off suspense, but AB2028 died without a vote, said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the Office of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.
Five officials from Whittier City School District debrief after a local presentation on the governor's May revision of the budget. (May 25, 2012)
More than a 120 school officials from about 80 districts throughout Southern California met at the L.A. County Office of Education in Downey on Thursday to review the state budget and discuss what it means for them.
The education consulting firm School Innovations & Advocacy offered a sobering budget briefing. California faces a deficit of nearly $16 billion under the governor’s latest budget plan, and education could be in for almost $6 billion in cuts - unless voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s initiative to raise taxes.
"The uncertainty is going to be a real challenge" said Jack O’Connell, the firm’s chief education officer, who is also the former state superintendent of public instruction. He helped conduct the briefing.
"The potential triggers, which, if the governor’s proposed initiative on the November ballot does not pass, you will see some reductions in public education to each and every one of our public schools in our state.”
After the meeting, five officials from the Whittier City School District sat at a table to debrief. The district operates 11 schools - mostly for primary grades - with more than 6,000 students. Its employees already take a handful of unpaid days off.
Like districts across the state, Whittier would lose several roughly $440 per student if the initiative to raise taxes doesn’t pass, says its fiscal services director Maricela Barba.
“That’s $3 million that will not materialize in our budget although we’re building our budget as if we’re going to get the money. We have to pay salaries, we have to buy supplies. We have to pay for services, we have to pay for everything, but then we will not receive those funds if the tax initiative doesn’t pass.”
Barba tries to budget without knowing how much money the state will send. When California issues IOUs, she has to take out loans.
San Pedro High School teacher Ida Lanza is creating an "Italian for Spanish Speakers" class next year. It's a unique curriculum that's being supported by CSU Long Beach.
San Pedro High School has partnered with a nearby university on a curriculum that may not surprise some people: teachers are using students’ Spanish-speaking skills to speed their progress in Italian and French classes.
Observers say it’s a big deal in a public school system that’s done little to nurture the heritage language skills of Latino students.
The method is in evidence bright and early at San Pedro High. On a recent morning at 8 a.m., 11 students walked into advanced placement Italian. Teacher Ida Lanza believes that’s not too early for a good aria. She plays a century-old recording of “Vesti la giubba,” sung by Enrico Caruso. Then she plays the same song sung by Luciano Pavarotti.
The debate is who’s the best opera singer, ever. No contest, Lanza tells her students. Caruso cries through song, she says, and listening to him makes her want to cry too.
California State University Chancellor, Charles Reed, right, discusses the effects of past budget cuts. Reed announced Thursday that he’s retiring after 14 years in the university system.
California State University Chancellor Charles Reed announced Thursday that he’s retiring after 14 years in the university system.
In a statement, Reed said he’s proud to have overseen the largest public university in the nation as it grew by 100,000 students and issued a million diplomas. He’s also proud of Cal State’s programs to recruit and retain more black, Latino, Native American and military veteran students.
The heads of the University of California and the California Community Colleges, along with Assembly Speaker John Perez, praised Reed’s performance on the job.
But California Faculty Association president Lilliam Taiz didn’t join that chorus. She said Reed concentrated on approving raises for the university’s top executives while instructors weathered pay cuts and students coped with soaring tuition.
Chinese chicken salad with three sides is served to Tustin public school students through a new, federally funded after-school supper program.
Amid all the bad news about budget cuts to public schools there is a bright spot: More money is now available for free and subsidized school meals, and not just for school breakfast and lunch.
For about a decade, federal grants allowed schools to serve after-school snacks like juice and crackers. But youth nutrition advocate Matt Sharp says educators had concerns about the program.
“Which is that the amount of snacks are too small, too few, driving some students to run off campus to purchase much less healthy options from vendors outside school gates or convenience stores,” he said.
A year and a half ago, a boost in the federal allocation expanded that snack into a meal. The goal was to tackle two problems: rising childhood obesity and families’ growing inability to buy healthy food.
The Tustin Unified School District is the first in Southern California to offer students supper after school. A third of the schools in that district, including Marjorie Veeh Elementary, currently serve an after-school meal.