Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Colorado Students Protest Censorship in Curriculum

Teachers and students are unhappy with two separate initiatives by the Jefferson County school board. Teachers have staged sick-outs over a new compensation model, which would base faculty raises and bonuses on teacher evaluations.
Students and teachers are also upset over proposed changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum. Students in Jefferson County have been staging walk-outs and protests over the changes since last week.
The board has proposed the creation of a new curriculum board that would ensure that AP U.S. History materials "promote patriotism" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." The Jefferson County board proposed the curriculum changes in response to the College Board's new AP U.S. History framework, which conservatives have decried as a "radically revisionist view of American history."

Monday, September 29, 2014

California Enacts First-in-the-Nation Law to Eliminate Student Suspensions for Minor Misbehavior

 AB 420 signing caps landmark year for school discipline reform in the state

Roger Dickinson 
SACRAMENTO, CA  – Today California becomes the first state in the nation to eliminate suspensions for its youngest children, and all expulsions for all students for minor misbehavior such as talking back, failing to have school materials and dress code violations. Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing today of AB 420 caps a landmark year for the movement away from harsh discipline policies and toward positive discipline and accountability approaches that keep children in school.

AB 420 places limits on the use of school discipline for the catch-all category known as “willful defiance,” which also includes minor school disruption. Willful defiance accounts for 43% of suspensions issued to California students, and is the suspension offense category with the most significant racial disparities.  For the next 3.5 years, the law eliminates in-school and out-of-school suspensions for children in grades K-3 for disruptive behavior currently captured in Education Code section 48900(k) and bans all expulsions for this reason. The bill was co-sponsored by Public Counsel, Children Now, Fight Crime Invest in Kids, and the ACLU of California and supported by a statewide coalition of organizations.

“In just a few short years, school discipline reform has become an important education policy priority in California because the stakes are very high – research has shown that even one suspension can make it five times more likely that a child will drop out of school and significantly increase the odds they will get in trouble and head into our juvenile delinquency system,” said Assm. Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), author of AB 420 and a longtime champion of positive school discipline in California. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tuck hedges on Proposition 30 school funding extension

from the Sacramento Bee.  By Alexei Koseff

Published: Thursday, Sep. 25, 2014 - 10:50 pm
Mark Tuck
State schools chief challenger Marshall Tuck would be open to extending Proposition 30, the temporary school funding tax hike passed by California voters in 2012, but only if it’s tied to other changes to the state’s public education system.
“If you just do the money piece, it’s actually not a great use of taxpayer money,” he said following a speech to the Sacramento Press Club on Thursday.

Tom Torlakson
The initiative has generated billions for education funding by imposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase through 2016 and raising the income tax rate for California’s highest earners through 2018. Tuck said that money was essential for schools coming out of the tremendous budget cuts of the recession, but would not be enough to improve the low national rankings of the state’s public schools.
“We need more funding,” he told the press club, but “we’ve got to prove that we can use that money well” before the state asks the public for more.
Incumbent Tom Torlakson has already called for an  extension of the tax hikes and considers passage of the measure one of the signature accomplishments of his first term.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ego, Money and False Promises: Michelle Rhee’s Big Secret and the Collapse of Education “Reform”

Jeff Bryant

Maybe it’s time to stick a fork in education reform, and get set for what the new ed-tech industrialists are going to bring us.
When Michelle Rhee left the center stage of the movement known as “education reform,” inquiring minds wanted to know why.
Was it because “she didn’t play well in the sandbox.” Was it to solidify her and her husband’s image as “the next Bill and Hillary Clinton?”
But here’s one theory that no one seemed to consider: It was a good business decision.
Regardless of how you feel about Michelle Rhee, you have to admit she has been an adroit business person – tapping into a growing market demand, using a clever publicity campaign to reach celebrity recognition, outmaneuver her competitors (such as teachers unions), and amassing significant amounts of capital to roll out a formidable new “product,” her organization StudentsFirst.
So it’s not beyond reasonable to wonder if Rhee got out of the business of “education reform” while the gettin’ was good and left StudentsFirst at a time when it has likely peaked in influence and may even be in decline.
If that’s indeed the case, is Rhee’s exit the first sign of a larger exodus from the reform movement soon to follow? Is the whole enterprise known as education reform starting to go south? And if so, where is all the big money behind it going to go to next?
Becoming the Bickersons
Perhaps Rhee realized, just in time, the reform venture was turning into a money pit, as forces and personalities dragged the effort down with inefficiency, contention and lack of productivity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Providing teachers that reflect the students

The Sacramento Bee published a good story on Saturday  by Lorett Kalb and Phillip Reese  on a group of teachers at McClatchy High working together in a colectivo to recruit students to get a college education and return to McClatchy as teachers.  Here. http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/20/6712601/mcclatchy-high-wants-students.html

However, the story misses  an important issue. 
Mc Clatchy used to get many minority teachers, both Asian and Latino from the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at Sac state, before that program  was eliminated in 2012.  The major minority teacher recruitment program in Northern California was quietly shut down.  I was the first Chair of that department.
By 2007, BMED was recruiting and placing minority teachers in the region such that between 30 and 36 % of all new teachers at Sac State were Latino. We did this for over 18 years.  We trained over 600 teachers, most of them minority and most of them local.
Now that has been re- organized out of existence under the disguise of low enrollment.  Current enrollment in teacher preparation at Sac State is about 6-8 % Latino.  This data is available in publicly available sources. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Call Governor Brown- Support English Learners

What's the issue?
SB 1174 (Lara) repeals current law requiring English Only placement for English Learners while still maintaining English language development, access to all content areas and providing program opportunities for all students to become multiliterate.
Urge Governor Brown to sign this bill, so all students will be given access to a critical 21st Century skill; the ability to speak, read and write more than one language proficiently, including English!
Why is SB 1174 (Lara) important?
SB 1174 (Lara) removes a barrier created by Proposition 227 preventing English learners from participating in the most effective programs by repealing the English Only placement requirement.
SB 1174 (Lara) supports preparation for students to effectively participate in our state's diverse and global economy by encouraging school districts to provide programs that promote multiliteracy for all students.
What do you need to do ?
Take action by contacting Governor Brown
1.)   By phone:  Call the Office of Governor Brown at 916-445-2841
         between 9 a.m. and 5p.m. weekdays. Ask to speak to the
         Legislative Representative assigned to SB 1174 (Lara) and state: 

     " Hello, my name is _____ and I am a (parent/educator) and I support
       SB 1174 (Lara) English Language Education. I urge Governor Brown to sign
       SB 1174 (Lara) because it will provide all of our children/students with a 
       critical 21 Century skill, that of speaking, reading and writing proficiency 
       in one or more languages in addition to English. The knowledge of languages
       will empower our children/students to effectively participate in our diverse 
       state and global economy. "

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