The Blog at CTA

Educators Press for Multiple Measures of Student Achievement and More Funding

(From r.) Shannan Brown, California 2011 Teacher of the Year and president of the San Juan Teachers Association, Thursday morning makes a strong case for using multiple measures of student performance. Her answer came in response to a question posed by EdSource Reporter John Fensterwald. 

During the Capitol Weekly /UC Center panel on accountability, Brown stressed the importance of measures that reflect the curriculum standards and include student portfolios, a method for measuring student performance over time. 

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Governor Proposes $7.8 Billion in New Funding for K-14 Schools in 2015-16 Budget Plan

(Photo above) Governor Jerry Brown unveils his 2015-16 fiscal year budget proposal during a Friday morning webcast.

On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his 2015-16 state budget proposal that would boost school funding by $7.8 billion.

The governor released the budget proposal during a morning news conference that was webcast by the California Channel, and he warned that despite a strengthening economy and voter approval of temporary tax increases in Proposition 30, the “carefully balanced” proposal was still “more precarious than I’d like.”

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Legislative Analyst Praises Governor for Paying Down Wall of Debt

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office – the legislature’s advisor on budget and other issues – has released the 2014-2015 edition of its Overview of the Governor’s Budget.

The LAO is noting that the governor’s proposed spending plan would continue to pay down the state’s wall of debt, including more than $6 billion in debt due to public education.

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Capitol News: Governor Brown Signs Budget

Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed California’s new, $96.3 billion budget that overhauls public school funding to help at-risk students succeed, and includes $1.25 billion in school district funding to prepare for Common Core State Standards.

“I don’t say all problems are over,” the Los Angeles Times reports Brown stated at a Capitol news conference. “But the budget is balanced.”

CTA appreciates the hard work done by all, starting width the passage of Proposition 30, to pass a budget that will begin to pay back some of the funds owed to schools after years of cuts and provides additional support to students width greater needs.

“While it will take years for our schools to fully recover, this budget is a big step in the right direction,” said CTA President Dean Vogel. “These new standards will dramatically impact teaching and learning and educators must have the resources they need to help students succeed.

Read more budget news stories here and here, and the governor’s news release.

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Capitol News: Education Coalition Issues Statement of Principles on State Budget Proposal

The Education Coalition, a statewide group whose members, including CTA, represent more than one million parents, educators, principals, students, school employees, administrators, and school board members, has released a statement of principles for the 2013-14 state budget proposal. After five years of cuts, the Coalition agrees it's time for the state to begin restoring funds to public education's base budgets so that schools can get "back on the path of providing high quality education services to our students."

In regard to the governor's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the Coalition is strongly urging the governor and lawmakers to consider the following principles as they make decisions about the 2013-14 spending plan:

1.     The long-term goal is to move California into the top 10 states in per-pupil funding.

2.     No school district or county office of education should experience any cuts.

3.     The budget should provide greater-needs students more resources for their education.

4.     Numerous logistical and policy challenges, including limited time to reconfigure data and student testing systems, would make  it difficult for some school districts to implement fully the LCFF in 2013-14.

5.     The LCFF must include sufficient transparency and accountability provisions.

6.     Lawmakers should examine closely the allocations local education entities would receive under LCFF and under a scenario width LCFF.

The Coalition also urges lawmakers to give proposed policy changes that are part of the governor's LCFF budget plan the full policy hearings that major changes normally receive. Such policy hearings provide an opportunity for all interested parties to express their views and suggest changes where appropriate, the Coalition reports.

The LCFF moves toward a system that provides a base grant to all districts tied to average daily attendance and then adjusts allocations to account for differential expenses between grades. It also provides additional money for English learners, low-income students and foster kids.

In mid-May, the governor will release his May Revision, an updated spending plan based on newer estimates of state revenues.  The state constitution requires lawmakers to send the governor a final budget by June 15.  The governor has until June 30 to sign the measure into law.  The spending plan takes effect on July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

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Capitol News: Governor's Office Releases New Details about Local Control Funding Formula - Major Changes Proposed

After much anticipation we now know more about the governor's proposed Local Control Funding Formula. As he told Californians in his state of the state address, he is seeking to localize decision-making. "...Decisions should be made at the lowest possible level of a government or an organization rather than at a high level." In particular, Gov. Brown is giving the classroom experts – teachers, certificated personnel, and education support professionals - more power to decide what is best for students.

The proposal phases in more money to schools width students who require more funding to educate. Students identified as higher needs, thus higher costs, are students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, English-language learners, and foster kids.

As part of the proposed changes, most of the money outlined in California's Education Code for specific education programs is collapsed into the new funding formula. The governor's stated intent for the local control means eliminating state mandates that tie the hands of those doing the work, which provides numerous opportunities to impact school learning and teaching environments.

The Department of Finance has filled in some of the missing pieces by releasing district breakdowns under the proposed school funding formula. Local educators on CTA's State Council of Education will continue to review the budget proposal to ascertain the impact.

CTA agrees that different student populations require additional funds to educate. However, CTA has some concerns about changing to a new funding formula before schools receive money owed to them from years of state budget cuts. Other concerns include reducing class sizes, providing resources to implement the new Common Core State Standards and the governor's proposal to move adult education to community colleges.

Additionally, CTA wants to ensure the new funding system includes accountability for how the dollars are spent. If the state removes the program-based funding accountability in the current system, the state must look at developing strong penalties for those districts that fail to provide basic services to all students.

There must also be some type of audit requirement to ensure the data used in the new formula is accurate and calculated equally in all schools as well as state definitions for poverty indexes and student classifications.

For more information about the LCCF: See the K-12 section of the governor's budget .summary K thru12 education


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Did Your Vote Matter? Just 334,000 Provided Electoral College Victory, RNC Head Asserts

Sometimes educators wonder if their votes make a difference. In California, those votes were a vital part of the winning margin in the passage of Proposition 30, the governor’s funding for schools measure, and the defeat of Proposition 32, the deceptive Special Exemptions Act.

Every vote matters, both in state politics and national elections.

A newly obtained briefing from the Republican National Committee to GOP US Senators drives the point home.  The briefing, posted online by MSNBC, asserts that only 333,908 votes in four states separated the re-election of Pres. Obama in the electoral college from a victory by challenger Gov. Mitt Romney.

Some analysts might argue that the assessment is an attempt to explain away the overwhelming margin of victory that National Education Association-recommended Pres. Obama won.  But either way, the key lesson: your vote matters.

Read the entire assessment at Republican National Chair's Report, courtesy of MSNBC.

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Schools Chief Torlakson Joins Callers Urging Yes on Proposition 30

(Photo above) From right, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and a volunteer take a breather from making phone calls to voters Monday evening at the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) phone bank.

Both hit the phones to help secure votes for Proposition 30, the only measure on the November 6 ballot that will protect K-12 public education, the community colleges, and the state university systems against another $6 billion in devastating funding cuts.

(From l.) Supt. Torlakson was calling voters Monday evening along width many volunteers. Teacher Stacey Willet  of Luther Burbank and her son were among them.  Stacey is  SCTA’s most dedicated phone-banker. She has made more than 1,200 phone calls herself, Chapter leaders report.

(Photos by Seth Bramble)

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Ballot Opportunities, Threats Unite Teachers, Other Working Women and Men

Photo above:  (from r.) Backed by California Labor Federation Leader Art Pulaski, Elementary Teacher Toby Boyd and SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, CTA Pres. Dean Vogel thanks phone bank volunteers on Saturday at the Sacramento City Teachers Association for their efforts to pass Proposition 30, the governor’s revenue measure for schools, and to defeat Proposition 32, the Special Exemptions Act that would increase the political power of wealthy special interests.

Photo left: (from l.) CTA Pres. Vogel, SEIU President Walker, SCTA President Scott Smith, and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer Art Pulaski spearheaded the phone banking at Sacramento City Teachers Association Saturday morning.

During their remarks Saturday morning to volunteers at the Sacramento City Teachers Association.CTA Pres. Dean Vogel, SEIU Local President Yvonne Walker, and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski cited a positive result of the challenges facing working women and men:   The opportunity to secure desperately needed new state revenues offered by Proposition 30 and the dire threat to working women and men posed by Proposition 30, the Special Exemptions Act, have solidified labor in California.

CTA President Vogel said that those who have attacked unions width ballot measures such as Proposition 32 won’t stop their efforts, and it would be “insane” for labor not to maintain the close ties that have been forged in this campaign.

SEIU President Walker noted that labor had not worked this closely together ever before.

The mood at the SCTA campaign headquarters was upbeat, just days before the election.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski put it this way: “You can’t defeat the heart and soul of the people who are fighting for justice.”


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Hundreds of Students Rally Friday at Capitol for Proposition 30

Photo above: Several hundred students from the Sacramento area raise their voices outside the state Capitol in support of Proposition 30, the governor’s revenue measure to aid public education. (Photo by Ed Amundson)

They came to the Capitol on Friday afternoon to make the point: students are being hurt by the massive cuts that have hit public education at all levels.  For higher education students, the $20 billion in K-University cuts have meant fewer classes, higher tuition, and fewer seats in community colleges, the state colleges, and the state universities.

Proposition 30 is the only measure on the November ballot that will prevent another $500 million in cuts at the state colleges and universities and more cuts at the community colleges.

Given the importance of the measure to higher education students, Gov. Jerry Brown has been visiting college campuses around the state to help mobilize student voters to support the measure.

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