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

As California standardized testing gains steam, help center 'inundated' with teacher calls


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Students type on computers.

It's week three for California’s new web-based standardized tests and some schools are reporting hair-pulling moments.

“Our students are becoming frustrated,” said Bonnie Tanaka, principal of Madrid Middle School in El Monte. She said screens are freezing up, and  - unlike what was promised - tests don’t resume where a student’s left off after a break, and students can’t review previous answers.

“So they are not putting in as much effort as they did" under the former, multiple-choice pencil-and-paper state tests, she said.

At some Los Angeles Unified schools, the problem was the computers and networks themselves, not the testing web site, some teachers said.

“The iPads sent by the district most didn’t work,” said Marc Graff, a fifth grade teacher at Pomelo Community Charter School. “We couldn’t even use them as part of testing.”


LA schools' proposed budget includes $36 million in spending to settle suit

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Desks placed outside of L.A. Unified headquarters a head of April board meeting. Advocacy groups wants more money to high needs schools in effort to increase academic performance and graduation rates.

Part of Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy's budget proposal includes spending $36 million to beef up staff at 37 schools to settle a lawsuit brought by advocacy groups accusing the school system of short-changing poor schools.

RELATED: Students line LA street with desks in protest

The Reed v. State of California settlement was announced at Tuesday's school board meeting where the superintendent presented his $6.8 billion budget proposal, which calls for sending 147 teachers, counselors and support staff to a list of schools in low-income neighborhoods.

"These are 37 of the most highly impacted schools in all of LAUSD," Superintendent John Deasy told the board Tuesday. "They have students with high needs, higher teacher turnover, new, younger — in terms of career —teachers."


Board to weigh spending proposals for LAUSD's $6.8 billion budget

Teachers union protest

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Members of United Teachers of Los Angeles protest rising class sizes last year.

The Los Angeles Unified school board is facing competing budget priorities for next year. At its meeting Tuesday,  Superintendent John Deasy will make the case for his budget proposal, which has left labor leaders unsatisfied.

"What is conspicuously missing is any significant reduction in class sizes across the district," said United Teachers of Los Angeles spokeswoman Suzanne Spurgeon in a written statement.  "And, this proposed budget does not include any proposed salary increases for employees who have not had a raise in 7 years."

But time is running out for the board to weigh the union's concerns.  They have to approve a budget by the end of June.

Board member Steve Zimmer postponed a proposal to prioritize class size reduction by hiring back school staff who were laid off in recent years, and to give teachers a raise in the form of a 3.24 percent cost-of-living adjustment.  Zimmer could not be reached for comment.  His resolution has been postponed several times since it was first introduced in September.


New bill to streamline teacher dismissal process may succeed where others failed

desks school classroom class chairs

Photo by Jonathan/Night Owl City via Flickr Creative Commons

Currently, teachers suspected of serious crimes go through the same hearing and appeal process as those accused of incompetency.

California Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan has introduced AB 215, a bill that would quicken the dismissal process for teachers accused of egregious misconduct - including sexual abuse, child abuse and some drug crimes.

Currently, teachers suspected of those crimes go through the same hearing and appeal process as those accused of incompetency.

During the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse scandal several years ago, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said state dismissal regulations tied their hands, preventing them from taking quick action to suspend or fire accused teachers.  The new bill proposes that egregious misconduct cases be handled separately from hearings that are held for teachers accused of incompetence.

AB 215 would speed up the appeals process in cases where teaching staff have been dismissed for sexual or physical abuse against students or colleagues. The bill proposes that one administrative law judge hear egregious misconduct cases,  instead of a three-person panel.  It also calls for litigants to have no access to the Superior Court for suspension appeals.


New report calls for massive overhaul of California's childcare system

11 - Regina Zodiacal - Pregnant in Prison Prisoners Child Childcare

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Serving 300,000 children, California spends approximately $2 billion each year on subsidized childcare and development programs.

California’s childcare and development system has “serious flaws” and is in need of “comprehensive restructuring,” according to a new report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO.) Examining the complicated public subsidy which provides low-income families with assistance for early childcare, the report lays out a road map for the state legislature to move towards a “simplified and rational system.”

Serving 300,000 children, California spends approximately $2 billion each year on subsidized childcare and development programs, according to the LAO. 60 percent of this funding comes from the state and the remaining 40 percent from federal monies. The report does not consider Head Start programs as that is a separate federal program.

In evaluating California’s system, the LAO compared it to childcare systems in other states. California, the report finds, has one of the highest income thresholds of all states for families to qualify for subsidized care, based on the federal poverty level (FPL). Whereas the majority of states require an income at or below 200 percent of the FPL to qualify, California requires 228 percent of the FPL.