Education Reform

Capitol News: Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves CTA-cosponsored Misconduct Reporting Bill

On a 78-0 vote, the Assembly approved CTA cosponsored-bill AB 449.

AB 449 by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) would make it clear that a district superintendent has the responsibility to report to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing  (CCTC) any adverse employment action taken against a certificated employee due to allegations of serious misconduct.

A superintendent's failure to make these reports has serious consequences for the safety of students in that district and other districts.

The bill clarifies that the CCTC may subject the superintendent of the school district or county office of education or   the administrator of a charter school to adverse action for unprofessional conduct.

Under AB 449, a refusal or willful neglect to make the report to the CCTC is a misdemeanor, width a fine that may not be paid or reimbursed width public funds. The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

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ESEA Must Put Students at Center of Education Reform

Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), the original purpose of ESEA was to help raise achievement and close gaps in student learning. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -- as it’s now called -- is not working as intended. Reauthorization of the law presents an opportunity to really help ALL of America’s students this time.

Congress must be willing to make the appropriate investments in order to ensure that NCLB lives up to its original goals, that’s why we are urging lawmakers to craft fair, flexible, and innovative K-12 legislation that really can bring about sustainable positive change for our students.

The future of our students will depend on investing in classroom priorities widely recognized as essential to sustained effectiveness, such as quality early childhood learning, smaller class sizes particularly in the early grades, additional learning time, and increased and sustainable funding for public schools.

We need to put students at the center of education reform, and we need federal legislation that seeks to partner width and support state efforts in meaningful reform, not undermine it.

The federal government must balance its support of states and local school districts’ efforts width its critical role in ensuring equitable access to a quality education so that students in need have what they deserve to thrive in today’s society. Therefore, ESEA must effectively address existing inequities in public education that harm students and communities, particularly students and communities of color.

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Legislature Approves State Budget: California Educators Are Encouraged by the New Compromise on the Local Control School Funding Formula

The state Senate and Assembly today passed AB 110, the legislature’s budget bill that will make a historic change in how schools are funded. The new budget, which is on its way to the governor for his signature, also provides more than $2 billion to begin repaying school districts funding they are owed after years of drastic cuts. It provides additional funding to ensure that virtually all districts get back to their 2007-08 state funding levels. It also targets more funding to help the state’s neediest students.

“While it will take years for our schools to fully recover, this budget is a big step in the right direction. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a state budget proposal width a significant increase in education funding,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “The governor’s Local Control Funding Formula that is part of the final budget adds up to renewed opportunities for our schools. We are also encouraged by the $1.25 billion for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. These new standards will dramatically impact teaching and learning. Educators must have the resources they need to help students succeed.”

New language regarding school district accountability provisions in the final budget protects collective bargaining and limits the oversight of County Offices of Education. This agreement holds the promise of a better future for our students. Take a closer look at details of the agreed-upon budget.

The legislature approved the spending bill a day before the June 15 deadline for sending the measure to the governor.  The governor has until June 30 to sign the budget into law to take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

Lawmakers are also debating and approving several “budget trailer measures” that help implement the new spending plan.

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Romero and DFER Target Teachers... Again

Ignoring the myriad challenges confronting California public schools, including budget cuts of more than $20 billion over the last few years, massive layoffs, and skyrocketing class sizes, Orange County Register columnist and self-professed school reformer Gloria Romero is once again taking aim at what she claims are the biggest problems facing our schools: teachers who should be fired and the California Teachers Association.

Last month Romero wrote a column erroneously accusing CTA of coming late to the party in supporting a teacher dismissal bill, AB 375. This week she resurrected her concerns about that bill. Apparently, she doesn’t like it simply because we do, or because in her view it doesn’t go far enough.

While current law removes anyone who is a potential threat to children from the classroom immediately, AB 375 streamlines the dismissal process for teachers accused of immoral conduct and gives school districts more flexibility in both timeline issues and the type of evidence allowed. It’s a strong bill that fixes some problems width the current system.

What Romero objects to is that AB 375 includes an adequate appeal process for a teacher unfairly or wrongly accused. She would prefer a system where the employee has little recourse when an employer moves to dismiss them for the wrong reasons.

The simplistic types of reforms Romero supports, including her own sloppily written “parent trigger” law, were roundly denounced by the California Democratic Party earlier this year, which objected to her using the name “Democrats” in her Democrats for Education Reform, a front group for corporations and others that would like to privatize public education.

The focus on teacher dismissal is a reaction to the LAUSD’s botched administrative handling of Miramonte Elementary and other abuse cases. It’s a focus on the wrong issue. California teachers do an excellent job in the face of sometimes daunting obstacles, despite California’s being near or at the bottom in education investment by nearly every measure. If Romero really wants to be a reformer, she’ll work width us on removing or mitigating those obstacles, instead of thinking she’ll fix our schools by taking away basic rights from all teachers.

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Senator Harkin Unveils 'Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013'

US Senator Tom Harkin took a step toward reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) today. Commonly known as No Child Left Behind and last reauthorized in 2001, ESEA defines the federal role in K-12 education. For more than a decade, educators have been sounding the alarm about the law’s unintended consequences and its over-reliance on test scores to label and punish students and schools.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement:

“Schools around America are winding down for the summer but Congressional efforts to rewrite the federal education law are just getting underway in Washington. We welcome this renewed effort. Students, parents, and educators know the law isn’t working. That’s why there’s been such strong push back—from Seattle to Rhode Island to Florida —against high-stakes standardized testing schemes ushered in by the law. The time has come for Congress to craft a fair, flexible, and innovative K-12 law that leads to real sustainable change for our children, while keeping the ESEA goals of equity and shared responsibility front and center.

“We believe all children deserve great schools, and Congress must make the investments so that we are ensuring opportunity for all children, not exacerbating current inequities. ESEA must address existing inequities in public education that harm students and communities, particularly students and communities of color.

“We are accountable for student success, and we must ensure that ESEA changes its current focus from punishing students, schools and educators to helping those most in need. Every student deserves committed, caring and qualified educators in her or his classroom. In order for the law to work, we must empower educators so they can focus on what’s important—student learning and achievement. Educators spend their lives and careers teaching—and protecting—their students. ESEA must respect educators by empowering us and allowing us to focus on the kind of instruction that students need.

“As education advocates, our top priority is to make sure that what happens in Washington actually works for students and educators in classrooms and schools across the country. We thank Chairman Harkin for his leadership and look forward to working width him and Senators from both sides of the aisle to find common sense, bipartisan solutions to fix the flawed law.”

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Capitol News: CTA/CCA and Allies Defeat Effort to Move Funds from Classrooms to Management

The Assembly Appropriations Committee rejected AB 806. The CTA-opposed bill by Assembly Member Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) would have undermined the current law requiring community college districts to spend at least 50 percent of their budgets on classroom instruction.

It would also have allowed community college districts to use more of their money on administration and management. The bill would have, for the first time, counted librarians and counselors as "classroom" expenditures. Currently, expenditures for important library and counseling positions are not considered classroom spending.

Assembly Member Wilk said the bill would help librarians and counselors.  Opponents – including CTA's Community College Association (CCA) and other labor organizations – said the bill's real purpose was to allow more funds to be used for management positions by changing the 50 percent requirement.

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Capitol News: California Educators Meet With Lawmakers to Discuss School Funding, Class Size and Common Core Implementation Funding

Presidents' Lobby Day a Success

More than 200 educators and CTA members met width their local lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday to discuss many issues related to the state budget — Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), class size reduction, funding to implement the Common Core State Standards, and the real need to pay back money that is owed to school districts after years of cuts totaling more than $20 billion.

In a press conference in Sacramento on May 22, CTA President Dean E. Vogel said CTA supports the goals of the LCFF as it addresses education funding on the basis of  equity among all of California's students and provides equal funding for students most in need. Funding must be based on student enrollment, using quantifiable data that is consistently applied and publicly available. Districts must be held accountable for spending the money appropriately.

"Our association's State Budget Principles call for equitable funding for students most in need, a repayment of what our schools are owed, an annual cost-of-living adjustment for all schools while the formula is being implemented over a period of several years, and full funding for the state's K-3 Class Size Reduction Program. We will continue to advocate for those changes to the current proposal," said Vogel.

"After years of drastic cuts, it is necessary for the future of our children and the future of California that the state begins restoring money owed to students and public education," emphasized Vogel. "It's time our students had a chance to focus on learning instead of facing threats of larger class sizes, fewer classes to choose from, higher tuition, and fewer teachers in the classroom."

CTA's other concerns width the proposed LCFF include:

- Funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is of paramount importance to CTA.

- CTA supports the Class Size Reduction program for grades K-3 widthin the LCFF, but maintains K-3 class sizes should return to the ratio of 20 students to one teacher, as it was prior to 2007-08.

- The accountability plan must give some assurance that the supplemental dollars allocated to school districts are spent as intended, that LCFF funding is based on enrollment and distributed to local districts, and that quantifiable data is consistently applied.

- CTA supports keeping Adult Education, ROC/ROP, Home-to-School Transportation and the Targeted Instructional Improvement Program (TIIG) as stand-alone programs width their own dedicated source of funding.

CTA will continue to work width the Legislature and the governor to pass a state budget that supports all students, educators, schools and colleges.

 

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CTA Member to Speak at TEDx Conference on Innovation and Education

Lisa-Highfill-croppedWhat will Cloud Era teaching look like? If Lisa Highfill , a fifth grade teacher at Fairlands Elementary School in Pleasanton, is any guide, expect to use Twitter, You Tube and other technology applications in class.  A Google Certified Teacher and a  You Tube Star Teacher,  Highfill leads a “flipped classroom” that uses technology to nurture children’s innate curiosity.

To Highfill, the beauty of flipped classrooms is that it enables more time for higher level thinking skills and activities. “Flipping instruction is just a way to deliver content,” she says.  “The real magic comes from what I do width the time I now have in the classroom.”

Highfill will elaborate more on her approach at the TEDxLivermore Conference on “Creating our Future:  Innovate + Educate” at Las Positas College in Livermore on June 8.

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More Than 200 Educators Urge Lawmakers to Support Public Education

(Photo top) Para Educator Doreen McGuire-Griggs talks to reporters during a May 22 news conference during the Presidents Lobby Day as part of a team including (from l.) Eric Heins, an elementary teacher and CTA Vice President; Dean Vogel, a counselor and CTA President; and  Theresa Montaño, a Professor at CSUN. The educators stressed the importance of providing targeted funding for students who are more costly to educate, the philosophy behind the governor’s local control funding formula. The educators are also supporting the governor’s plan to allocate one billion dollars to help implement the Common Core State Standards and his proposal to begin paying back money owed to schools after cuts of more than $20 billion. More than 200 educators convened near the state Capitol Wednesday morning in preparation for visits width their lawmakers in support of public education.  The educators discussed key issues including the governor’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula, class size reduction, and funding to implement the Common Core State Standards. At the top of the educators’ list was securing allocations to help restore the more than $20 billion in cuts schools have suffered in recent years. CTA’s policy-making body, the State Council of Education, in April adopted budget principles that call for equitable funding for students most in need, the repayment of what schools are owed, an annual cost-of-living adjustment for all schools while the formula is being implemented over a period of several years, and full funding for the state’s K-3 class size reduction program.

lobbydeanstarts(Photo at left) CTA President Dean Vogel welcomes more than 200 educators to Sacramento for a morning briefing.  During the day, the educators also heard from CTA Vice President Eric Heins (middle) and CTA Secretary-Treasurer Mikki Cichocki-Semo.

 

lobbybuchanan2(At board in photo at left) Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and a team of educators discuss the projected impact of the Local Control Funding Formula on Bay Area schools. The educators told the lawmaker they are seeking legislative assurances that the new funds will make it to the classroom.

lobbysteinbergteamcroppedSenate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) met width a team of educators, including his constituents, Maggie Ellis, a teacher from Elk Grove, and Scott Smith, a drama teacher from Sacramento, who stressed the importance of providing payback funding for schools.

   

lobbycooley2United behind class size reduction – (At left in photo) Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova)  speaks width Toby Boyd, an elementary school teacher, and Christine Moran, an educator from the Twin Rivers school district, about efforts to get class sizes down to 20.  Assembly Member Cooley is the author of AB 558, a CTA-cosponsored class size reduction measure.

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Capitol News: Assembly Panel Approves CTA-Backed Bill to Align Student Assessments with Common Core Standards

The Assembly Education Committee has approved AB 484 by Assembly Member Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), which seeks to bring student assessments in line width the new Common Core standards.

The CTA-approved bill suspends other testing not required for the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, the federally required measurement of students' progress. The bill substitutes for the current Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program a newly established California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress for the 21stCentury (CalMAPP21).

CTA has concerns about how the remaining elements tied to AYP can be brought into sync width the Common Core and will be working width lawmakers and regulators on that issue.

CTA believes that the student assessment's primary function is to help teachers improve instruction by determining effective instructional strategies and appropriate learning experiences for students and to assist students and their parents in identifying each student's strengths and needs.

AB 484 now heads to the Assembly's Appropriations Committee.

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