Torlakson Criticizes DeVos for Repealing Federal Protections for Sexual Harassment and Assault Victims

November 13, 2017

California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has criticized U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos for repealing guidance letters under Title IX that made it easier to protect the rights of victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

“Victims of sexual assault and harassment must know that they will have a fair chance at justice when they come forward with serious accusations,” Torlakson said in a statement on November 6. “California has changed our laws to make our system more just and to make certain victims are heard. The actions by the federal government take us backward.”...

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High School in Orange County Debates Status of Longstanding School Mascot – “Johnny Rebel”

By Charles Davis - Rep: November 13, 2017

Savanna High School has a Confederate soldier for a mascot, and defenders of “Johnny Rebel” – chosen by the student body in the 1960s – argue that the branding is part of their heritage. However, Savanna High School is not in the Deep South, where one might expect such a controversy, but in Southern California’s Orange County, a few miles from Disneyland.

Lay-Onna Clark, 15, didn’t give it much thought until she and some friends formed a black student union last August, the start of her junior year. It was when they started designing T-shirts that it really hit them: “The mascot supports white supremacy – that one race is superior to another,” she said in an interview. Indeed, it literally represents one race fighting to enslave another...

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PPIC Poll Finds Californians Concerned about College Affordability, Cost of Student Housing

November 13, 2017

Many Californians say the public higher education system in California is going in the wrong direction, but they are more likely to express concern about affordability than about the quality of the state’s colleges and universities. These are among the key findings of an annual statewide survey on higher education released on November 1 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Asked about the direction of public higher education, 45 percent of adults and a majority of likely voters (53%) say it is generally going in the wrong direction (right direction: 46% adults, 37% likely voters). In the view of 45 percent of adults and half of likely voters (51%), the system needs major changes...

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Bill Gates Outlines Future Course for Foundation

“We Will No Longer Invest... in New Initiatives Based on Teacher Evaluations,” Focus Now on “Locally-Driven Solutions”

October 30, 2017


(Editor’s note: The following remarks were delivered by Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, at the Council of the Great City Schools meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 19, 2017)


Thank you for that introduction. It’s great to be here today. When our foundation began working in education in 2000, we started with a few guiding principles.

Our #1 priority was – and still is – ensuring that all students get a great public education and graduate with the skills to succeed in the workplace.

We wanted to work with educators to better understand their needs and the needs of their students and communities.

And, taking their best ideas, we wanted to pilot potentially transformative solutions and understand what worked well and what didn’t.

Today, I’d like to share what we have learned over the last 17 years and how those insights will change what we focus on over the next five years...

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CDE Gets New Professional Learning Support Division Director

October 30, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on October 13 that he has appointed Barbara Murchison as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Professional Learning Support Division.

Murchison will oversee the division’s efforts to support educators throughout their professional career, from recruitment to leadership opportunities. This division works in collaboration across the Department and the state, helping educators implement the California Standards and curriculum frameworks.

It administers several professional learning programs for educators at all levels and in all content areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, history-social science, literacy, and arts, with the goal of ensuring equitable learning opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students, including English learners...

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ACLU Applauds Coachella School Board Sanctuary Policy

October 16, 2017

By a unanimous vote in late September, the Coachella Valley School Board adopted a policy to protect immigrant students and their families, as urged by the ACLU of California and Building Healthy Communities of Coachella Valley.

Coachella Valley was the first district to adopt the ACLU of California’s Sanctuary Schools Campaign model policy in its entirety, though the Riverside and LA Unified School Districts have adopted policies based on the model.

“This policy provides clear steps our schools can take to protect our children and we commend the board for approving it,” said Linnea Nelson, education equity attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. “Sanctuary polices make clear to families that districts will stand up for their communities and protect sensitive information from law enforcement.”...

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SBE Approves Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

October 2, 2017

On September 13, the State Board of Education approved a plan for using federal assistance under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Every state that receives federal funding to support low-income students and English language learners is required to submit an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Several states submitted their plans earlier this year, while California and more than 30 other states will be submitting their plans on September 18.

The plan – essentially a grant application – allows each state to make a case for how it will utilize and manage federal dollars...

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Trump Administration’s Move to Rescind DACA by March Widely Criticized

September 18, 2017

The Trump’s announcement on September 5 that the Deferred Acceptance for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be phased out by early March 5 was widely criticized by California education stakeholders.

The California Department of Education issued this statement:

“Our country made an honest deal with these students – study hard, earn your degree, and you will get a fair chance to compete for college. We should keep deals, not break them. We should support dreams, not destroy them,” Torlakson said. “These students embody the American dream. Their hard work, energy, dedication, and diverse backgrounds help them contribute to our economy, while adding to the rich cultural heritage that makes California a dynamic global leader.”

Torlakson called on Congress to act swiftly to restore the program. “I urge Congress to step up, find a permanent path to citizenship, and protect these immigrants,” he said...

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California Attorney General Becerra Files DACA Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

September 18, 2017

On September 11, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by the attorneys general for Minnesota, Maryland and Maine, filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative (DACA). The four States filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California arguing that the Trump Administration violated the Constitution and federal laws when it rescinded DACA.

“The DACA initiative has allowed more than 800,000 Dreamers, children brought to this country without documentation, to come out of the shadows and become successful and productive Americans. One-in-four of those DACA Dreamers know California as home, and it’s no coincidence that our great state is the sixth largest economy in the world,” said Attorney General Becerra...

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Torlakson Sends Letter Denouncing Racism, Encouraging Schools to Celebrate Diversity

September 5, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter on August 24 to California school leaders denouncing racism and encouraging schools to celebrate diversity as the new school year begins.

The letter went to county and district school superintendents and charter school administrators at more than 1,025 school districts statewide – the nation’s largest public school system.

“I want to let all California educators, students and their families know that I reject the hatred, racism, and violence so sadly displayed earlier this month in Charlottesville,” Torlakson said...

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