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.


New CA law will focus less on test scores as part of API

scantron standardized test

timlewisnm/Flickr Creative Commons

A new California law will focus less on test scores in calculating the annual Academic Performance Index measures that are often used by schools and parents to rank their overall performance.

The Academic Performance Index --  a number that educators and parents have obsessed over to rank their schools' performance each year -- will focus less on student test scores and more on a school's overall ability to prepare students for college and the workplace under a new measure Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law.

SB 1458 by Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento became state law Wednesday. It limits test scores to no more than 60% of the API for high schools and at least 60% in elementary and middle schools. The remainder of the score will factor in graduation rates, students' preparedness for college or technical training and graduates' ability to compete in the global job market.

"For years, 'teaching to the test' has become more than a worn cliche because 100% of the API relied on bubble test scores in limited subject areas," Steinberg said in a statement. "But life is not a bubble test and that system has failed our kids."


New chancellor for California community colleges

The search for a new Chancellor of california’s 112 community colleges is over. Brice Harris starts his job as head of the nation's largest public college system on November 6.

Harris is a veteran administrator. He retired last month after 16 years with the from the Los Rios Community College district in Norther California; it includes the American River, Cosumnes River, Folsom Lake and Sacramento city colleges. He’ll succeed Jack Scott, who retired earlier this month.

As chancellor, Harris will receive $198,500 a year plus benefits.

Statewide the system is experiencing massive financial and academic crises: Over the past four years, state budget cuts have forced schools to scale back almost a quarter of its course offerings, reduce enrollment from 2.9 million to 2.4 million students, and it’s more than doubled student fees.


Cal State trustees allow outside input in chancellor selection process

Ari Lynn Day/Flickr

A sky view of Cal State Fullerton. Cal State trustees announced a list of institutional stake-holders who will participate in the final chancellor interviews next week.

California State University trustees are trying something new as they approach the final stage of hiring a new university chancellor.

On Tuesday, trustees announced a list of institutional stake-holders who will participate in the final candidate interviews next week.

The group includes Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia and Cal State L.A. President Jim Rosser, CSU professors Diana Guerin and James Postma, former trustee Herb Carter, Cal State San Bernardino student David Allison, alumnus Guy Heson and CSU Long Beach staffer Vonetta Augustine.

Cal State spokeswoman Claudia Keith said the university received dozens of online suggestions for the hiring of a new chancellor. “This was in response to some of those requests for additional folks to be in an advisory capacity to our board as they make their decision,” she said.

The California Faculty Association bashed the chancellor hiring process, saying it was shutting out external input in the chancellor selection process. Spokeswoman Keith said the creation of the external advisory group was not a response to the association’s criticism. Keith wouldn’t say how many people are finalists to run the 427,000-student university system.


LA students off for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur Jewish star of david

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

The Jewish Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, begins Tuesday at sundown. For the next 25 hours Jews all over the world will fast and repent for their sins.

The Jewish Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, begins Tuesday at sundown. For the next 25 hours, Jews all over the world will fast and pray that their wrongs of the past year are forgiven, and that a better year is to come.

Rabbi Susan Goldberg of Temple Beth Israel in Highland Park said this is like no other holiday on the Jewish calendar. 

"It's like a yearly checkup on our souls, to say, what are we doing with our lives? What are we doing in our work? With our families?," Goldberg said. "...Are we doing what we feel like we really want to be doing? Are we treating people well? Are we treating ourselves well?"

All traditional calendar L.A. Unified schools will close for the holiday that ends at sundown Wednesday.

Read more: Yom Kippur, a day of taking stock for world's Jews

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).