In Race for State Superintendent, Marshall Tuck Raises $1.2 Million, Tony Thurmond Raises $896,000

August 7, 2017

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on August 1 that that two candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction have raised substantial war chests of campaign contributions from their supporters.

Marshall Tuck has raised $1.2 million for another try and has $1 million in the bank. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, has collected $896,000 this year and has $860,000 cash on hand.

Tuck – who ran for State Superintendent in issued a press release, saying “Our campaign is about bringing Californians together to tackle the big challenges facing our public schools. California doesn’t shrink from big problems, we solve them. We know what it takes to educate our children. Now we need the political courage to do it.

“I’m humbled by our early support, and fired up to keep growing our grassroots movement to bring big changes to California’s schools, and renew the promise of public education for all students.”...

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SBE Seeks Input on New Accountability System

August 7, 2017

The State Board of Education deliberated for more than eight hours July 12 on the various components of the new accountability system and the emerging system of support. Finessing the California School Dashboard and reconciling it with the draft Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan is proving to be harder than anticipated.

Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez, who oversees the actions of the SBE for ACSA, said the association was fortunate to have Ralph Porras, chair of ACSA’s Accountability and Continuous Improvement Task Force, speak on behalf of our members on items before the board.

The California Department of Education staff presented functional changes to the dashboard for fall 2017. Administrators and other stakeholders are encouraged to share major structural changes the CDE could consider making to the dashboard for fall 2018...

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CDE Names State Administrator for Inglewood Unified

August 7, 2017

On July 20, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana as his selection for State Administrator for the Inglewood Unified School District.

“Thelma Meléndez has a strong combination of leadership skills and experience managing school districts,” Torlakson said. “She will continue the district’s positive momentum.”

Meléndez most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Educational Services in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She was also Superintendent at the Pomona Unified and Santa Ana Unified School Districts, and served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. The American Association of School Administrators named her the California Superintendent of the Year in 2009. She will begin her appointment August 16, 2017...

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Gorsuch Faces Telling Moment as 15-Year-Old Student Compares Trump’s Travel Ban to Korematsu Case

By Matthew Renda, Courthouse News Service - Rep: July 24, 2017

During an awards ceremony on July 17 at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in San Francisco, new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch heard a 15-year-old student winner of a civics contest compare President Trump’s travel ban to what is widely regarded as a shameful moment in American legal history when Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps.

The student, Olivia Tafs, traveled from Anchorage, Alaska, to receive an award as part of the four-day Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference being held in San Francisco. Olivia wrote an essay about the landmark Supreme Court Case Korematsu v. United States.

Korematsu, which was ultimately decided in favor of the United States, held that it was constitutional for the United States government to round up and imprison U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in the interest of national security during World War II...

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Dianna MacDonald Named President of California State PTA

July 10, 2017

Dianna MacDonald, a resident of Sonoma, is the new president of California State PTA, leading the association of nearly 800,000 members in advocating for the education, health and welfare of California’s 9 million children.

MacDonald was elected to the 2017 - 2019 term of office, which begins July 1. In her new role, MacDonald will serve as chief executive officer of California State PTA and chairman of the Board of Directors. California State PTA is the nation’s largest and highest profile child-advocacy organization and strives to connect families, schools and communities.

MacDonald is a strong believer in the importance of family engagement and early-childhood education...

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New Director Named for CDE’s Early Education and Support Division

July 10, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has appointed Sarah Neville-Morgan as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Early Education and Support Division.

Neville-Morgan will oversee a division that provides leadership and support to the early learning and care community, providers, and contractors statewide, ensuring high-quality early education programs for young children.

Neville-Morgan most recently served as Deputy Director of Program Management at First 5 California, and she worked as a CDE Child Development Consultant from 2011 to 2013...

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Big Donors Getting More Involved, Division Among Democrats

Next Election Could Feature a Tug-of-War on Education

By Lauren Rosenhall, CALmatters - Rep: June 19, 2017

Sandra Lowe reminisced about the good old days as she addressed a roomful of Democratic activists at the California party’s annual convention during May in Sacramento. It used to be, the teachers union leader told the crowd, that it didn’t take much to win a school board race: a short statement in the election handbook, a little money for some mail and the shoe-leather to knock on doors and talk to voters.

Now, Lowe said, things are different. Wealthy donors have put big money into shaking up public education by backing candidates willing to challenge union orthodoxy. And the impact they had this month on the school board race in Los Angeles – ousting a union-backed incumbent and electing a new majority that favors charter schools – is likely to reverberate across California.

“It’s not just an L.A. situation,” said Lowe, a California Teachers Association consultant. “This is going to happen everywhere.”...

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CDE Releases First California Schools Mobile App

June 19, 2017

The California Department of Education’s (CDE) first mobile application, offers detailed information about California’s 10,000 public schools, was released on June 5.

The CA Schools mobile app, developed in-house by the CDE and available for iOS and Android systems, lets users locate nearby schools based on their current location and provides a wealth of details, including contacts and directions, demographics, test scores, and a school’s California School Dashboard profile page.

“Never before have we put so much school information literally in the hands of our students, parents, and community members and made the information so accessible and user-friendly,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson said. “Home buyers can check out schools in their prospective neighborhoods. Parents heading to a child’s away game can map directions to the host school. There are all kinds of potential uses.”...

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Private School Vouchers: Why They Are Problematic

By Jonathan Kaplan, California Budget and Policy Center - Rep: June 5, 2017

President Trump’s support for private school vouchers has prompted a growing interest in what K-12 school vouchers are, how they work, and the issues they raise. Traditional school vouchers are directly funded by states to help parents pay tuition costs for their children to attend private school, which may include religious private schools. At first glance, it is unclear how federal policies that promote private school vouchers would work at the state level and whether Californians would support them. A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey found that a majority of Californians – 60 percent – are in favor of providing parents tax-funded vouchers to send their children to K-12 private schools, including those that are religiously affiliated. However, California voters overwhelmingly rejected two state ballot measures in 1993 and 2000 that proposed state funding for vouchers to pay for education at private schools...

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Torlakson Announces Release of Draft ESSA State Plan, Invites Public Comment

June 5, 2017

On May 22, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the release of California’s draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan, and invited public comment.

ESSA is the new federal law passed in December 2015 that governs U.S. education policy for kindergarten through grade twelve. States are required to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that describe how they will meet various federal goals.

California released its draft State Plan online at the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Draft ESSA State Plan Public Comment Toolkit Web page...

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