Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

On 11th anniversary, No Child Left Behind law in tatters

President Obama has said the U.S. needs to replace No Child Left Behind with a law that’s “more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.”
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As the federal No Child Left Behind law's eleventh birthday arrives Tuesday, California is one of the few states that still must meet its requirements.

The Obama administration has exempted 33 states from the law's provisions since 2011 -- in exchange for agreeing to reforms. California has refused to implement a key measure: using student test scores to assess teachers and principals.

As a result, its request for a waiver was denied last week. Now California schools that fail to meet the law's provisions could face serious sanctions. State officials expect about 80 percent of schools to fail in 2014.

“If they don't meet those goals over a five year period then the school may be closed, everybody will be fired, the school may be turned into a charter school, the school can be handed over to private managers,” said researcher Diane Ravitch of New York University.


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Kids returning from winter break will see added police patrols

A student walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school bus in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.
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LA Unified students head back to school on Monday morning and district officials want parents to know they should expect to see a lot more police on school campuses. 

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the increased police presence should help set parents at ease after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Among the dead were 20 children and six adults. The gunman also died in the attack.

Even before the shooting, 200 school police officers were already stationed throughout the district, including one at every high school.

To boost patrols, Deasy is drawing from LAPD, the sheriff’s department, and at least a dozen other law enforcement agencies in the county. Officials said the increased presence is not a response to any threats, rather to help reassure parents, educators and children.


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Federal officials reject California’s No Child Left Behind waiver request

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gives a speech in Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali look on.
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The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter on Friday to the president of California’s Board of Education denying the state’s request to be exempted from the most onerous requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The 11 year-old law compels states to improve public school student proficiency in English and math to 100 percent by 2014. Failure to meet increases along the way to that deadline target schools for improvement, total overhaul, and the ability for parents to enroll their kids in higher performing schools elsewhere.

The law measures proficiency solely on standardized test scores. There’s widespread consensus among educators that the 100 percent goal is unattainable. California evaluates schools on student test scores, too, but strives for single digit improvement year after year instead of meeting 100 percent proficiency.


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Lawmaker floats $10,000 public college degree for science, tech careers

Students throw their mortarboards in the air during their college graduation.
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Northern California Assemblyman Dan Logue wants to make it quicker and cheaper for students to earn college degrees in lucrative, job-rich industries.

His Assembly Bill 51, introduced Dec. 21,  would cap the price of science, technology, engineering, or math degrees at three pilot California State University campuses at $10,000 dollars. That’s less than half of what they cost now.
“The biggest issue we have is that a lot of these kids are graduating in a four-year college with a degree where they aren’t really being hired because there’s not a demand for it,” Logue said. The pilot campuses are CSU Long Beach, CSU Chico, and CSU Stanislaus. The bill would allow students to take college-level classes in high school, then attend community college before transferring to the Cal State campus.


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California Governor wants to shift funding to schools with poorer students

California Governor Jerry Brown wants to bolster funding for public schools that serve the poor.
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Governor Jerry Brown’s New Year’s resolution: a major school funding overhaul.

Observers said Brown will unveil details next week of a plan to increase state funding for public schools with high proportions of low-income students.

It’ll be a version of a student weighted funding formula he unveiled last year -- then withdrew several months later after opposition from a coalition that included the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association. They were concerned that the funding overhaul might harm their push to pass Propostion 30.

State Board of Education President Mike Kirst, who supported last year’s plan, predicts it'll get broad support this time. For one, the Governor adopted changes that surfaced at stakeholder meetings several months ago, he said. And the state analysts predict increased funding for all schools in the next few years.
“That makes it more favorable that you can phase it in on an increased rising tide of expenditures,” Kirst said.

Brown plans to do away with rules governing so-called categoricals -- funding streams for programs like busing and class size reduction. Removing the rules, Brown told the L. A. Times, would give school districts more control over how to use the money. His goal, he said, is to “balance” opportunities.


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