Jack O’Connell Bows Out – Quietly

November 13, 2009

When Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, bowed out of the race for California’s Governor on October 30, the story made the front page in many parts of the state.

At the time, some in the education community wondered if State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell – who had been mulling a run for Governor himself – would get into the race.

This just brings to light how little attention O’Connell received when he quietly ruled himself out as a candidate for Governor in mid-October...

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If One of Your Principals is Diagnosed with H1N1, How Will Your District Handle the News?

August 21, 2009

What does a school district do when a middle school principal comes down with H1N1 flu — just before the first day of school? 

That situation actually occurred in the Woodland Joint Unified School District last week.  Other districts might want to consider how Woodland handled the situation, and think about how they might respond in the same situation, since it’s very likely that many districts will have teachers or administrators diagnosed with cases of H1N1 flu in the weeks ahead, while California health authorities wait for an H1N1 vaccine to become available...

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API Demographic Stats, In Addition To Numeric Rankings, Offer Insights Into California

May 29, 2009

Last week, the California Department of Education released the latest batch of Academic Performance Index (API) rankings.  And as usual, print and broadcast media zoomed in on the numbers posted by their local schools and districts.  Headlines like “Wilson School Takes Big Jump in API Score” (Petaluma Argus-Courier), “31% of SD schools rated academic high-performers” (San Diego Union Tribune), and “API scores mixed among Tulare schools” (Visalia Times-Delta) were seen from Calexico to Yreka.

Checking on your neighborhood school’s numeric ranking is an understandable urge...

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Balancing Risk and Student Safety – When Thinking About Temporarily Closing a School

May 8, 2009

When is it appropriate to temporarily close a public school?

California educators got multiple opportunities to think about this question during the past week.

There were scattered school closures – and other schools that considered the possibility of closure, but remained open – based on concerns about H1N1 flu (or "swine flu," as it is called in many news reports, and not a few district websites).  In matters involving an infectious disease, most educators usually look to their county health authorities for guidance...

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New Flu Strain Triggers Scattered School Closures Across California

May 1, 2009

Influenza moved to the top of the agenda for many California educators this week, as the California Department of Education and local school districts tried to size up the threat posed by a new flu strain that seems to have first broken out in Mexico, and is gradually spreading into the United States.

The California Department of Education (CDE) quickly created a webpage to convey information on the topic,         http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/swineflu.asp 

The page includes information on common sense flu precautions,...

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Propositions Getting Mixed Recommendations, With Low Voter Turnout Likely on May 19

April 24, 2009

Multiple groups are making recommendations to California voters regarding the six budget-related ballot propositions (1A through 1F) that will go before voters in California's special election next month. 

And the recommendations are going both for and against the measures, at a time when many elections officials are predicting a low voter turnout – "dismal" was the term used by Yolo County Clerk Freddie Oakley, who is not one to mince words.

Voters who look to education groups for guidance may not find much unanimity...

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Federal Stimulus Funds Come With Strings Attached, and Must Be Carefully Spent. . . Soon

April 10, 2009

Federal stimulus money is now flowing into California.

And the state's elected officials promise that they'll get that federal money out to districts as soon as possible.

But the federal stimulus money comes with "strings attached," in the form of reporting requirements, deadlines for spending, and more.

And if districts don't spend their federal stimulus money relatively soon, and in accordance with the federal rules, California school districts might not be included in a second round of federal stimulus funding...

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President Stresses More Charter Schools, Higher Academic Standards, Longer School Year

March 13, 2009

It’s commonly understood that the economy is the most urgent issue on President Obama’s agenda.

But in a speech on Tuesday to the National Association of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the president began filling in some of the details of his policies regarding K-12 education, which remained fairly sketchy during last year’s long campaign.

The speech was overshadowed by the rollercoaster performance of the stock market this week. But the highlights are of interest to educators...

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Stimulus is Good News...But Not 'the Answer'

February 6, 2009

As word spread through the news in recent weeks that President Obama’s huge federal stimulus package includes funding for K-12 education, headlines began appearing, in California and elsewhere.

“School districts may get millions” was the headline in the San Jose Mercury.

“Stimulus plan would provide flood of aid to education” was the headline in the New York Times...

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Obama's Inaugural Address:

Educators Hopeful, But Still Waiting for Details

January 23, 2009

The inauguration of President Barack Obama was widely seen as a historic moment in the nation’s history, and rightly so.  After eight years of sometimes conflicted relations with the previous Bush Administration, many educators were feeling so euphoric about the transition to new leadership that they didn’t feel too put out by the fact that Obama said little about education in his inaugural address.

Obama’s remarks included the brief statement that “our schools fail too many (students),” and the pledge that “we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”...

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Sacramento and Washington – A Tale of Two Cities . . . and Taxes

January 9, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger almost certainly will not like to hear the comparison made in the headline above.  But there are uncanny similarities between the Governor's dealing of the state budget issues and the handling of national financial crisis by our unpopular lame duck president.

They have both failed to summon a needed handful votes from their own party to support legislative measures which they (as chief executive) have publicly stated they sincerely believe are in the best interest of the general public...

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Federal Bail Outs – Why Not Help California?

December 5, 2008

When Governor Schwarzenegger lays out his request for Federal funds to help California, he is not doing it to merely fulfill his role of the custodian of the state budget.  He does so to provide needed leadership in steering the state and the nation out of the economic slump.  As such, his request has merit, and deserves to be fully funded by the federal government.

So far, the major beneficiaries of economic recovery efforts – including the so-called $700 billion bail-out – have been business located in other states, mainly in New York...

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Political Musical Chairs, and the Incoming Obama Administration

November 21, 2008

Politics sometimes resembles a game of musical chairs, particularly in today's era of term limits.  And currently, there are two rounds of that game playing out simultaneously in Sacramento.

On the one hand, people are waiting to see what President Barack Obama's cabinet will look like.  Folks involved with the public schools are particularly curious to see who gets the nod as Obama's Secretary of Education, since that person will likely play a significant role in revisions to the Bush administration's widely disliked No Child Left Behind legislative package...

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No New Taxes or a Balanced Approach?

November 14, 2008

As the discussion about the midyear cuts builds up a full head of steam, and the related political posturing begins, familiar clichés start to fill the air.

The Governor has taken a rather bold step by proposing to balance the budget through a combination of expenditure curtailment and revenue enhancement, reversing his previous unequivocal opposition to tax hikes.  He proposes now an increase in the state sales tax, although he calls it a temporary increase...

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Sorting Out ‘No Child Left Behind’

October 17, 2008

On Monday, the New York Times carried a front page article – datelined Sacramento – with the headline “Under ‘No Child’ Law, Even Solid Schools Falter.”

Using Sacramento’s Prairie Elementary as an example, the article describes how growing number of schools are raising their test scores – but nonetheless find themselves unable to meet the escalating benchmarks set by federal No Child Left Behind legislation...

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Local Education Foundations Do Great Work, But There's Still More to be Done

October 10, 2008

With the growing uncertainty about state funding for education, more school districts are turning to nonprofit foundations as a way to raise money for specific projects.

Local fundraising is nothing new, PTA groups have been doing it for decades, outfitting countless computer rooms.  There was also an uptick in activity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when several forward-thinking communities formed 501 (c) 3 nonprofit groups to raise money to support school district programs...

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California's Education Leadership Team: Unique Chemistry, and Perhaps Overly Complex

October 3, 2008

With the state budget finally approved, and the mound of backlogged legislation on the Governor’s desk finally dealt with (including many, many vetoes), we imagine that the Governor’s office might now be thinking about appointing a replacement for Secretary of Education David Long.

Long informed the Governor of his decision to resign on Sept. 10. Long was in the job for 18 months, which is longer than many of his predecessors have stayed...

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Public Education: more than a budget item, an investment

September 12, 2008

Every year, during California’s annual budget fight, both parties in the legislature take certain familiar positions. Republicans restate their opposition to any revenue enhancement measures, citing their pledges of no new taxes, and insist on a reduction in “expenditures.” Democrats ponder how to fund the “competing interests” of their various constituencies.

Unfortunately, this year’s stalemate has landed California in a jam, with the state budget almost three months late...

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School Choice and the Competitive Edge

September 12, 2008

Students coming together from all walks of life can be a valuable and enriching experience.

Yet, for a growing number of parents, this experience has not been what they wanted for their children. Many parents want to control who sits by their children and what they receive as an education.

Parents have become shoppers, and they are looking at all of the educational products on the public and private school shelves...

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Still No Budget...

September 1, 2008

Labor Day has passed, and the new school year is underway in most of California’s school districts.

But as this inaugural edition of EdBrief was readied for online publication, there was still no state budget. That puts everyone involved with public education, from superintendents to students, in a very uncomfortable situation.

“This is not state government's finest moment,” observed the Orange County Register on August 27...

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