Sac City teachers, staff vote no confidence in Superintendent
Sacramento USD teachers and classified staff have voted no confidence in Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, claiming fiscal mismanagement and a failure to provide services. Out of the district's 2,800 certificated educators, 1,350 teachers voted no confidence, with just 55 voting the other way for a 96% vote against Mr. Aguilar. Nearly half of the educators did not cast a vote. Of the 2,000 classified staff, which includes bus drivers, custodians and food services, 97% of those who voted chose to vote no confidence in the superintendent. SEUI 1021 did not release how many members voted. Both the teachers and classified unions stated that Mr. Aguilar oversaw budget mismanagement that resulted in unnecessarily cut programs, repeated warnings of a state takeover and nearly 1,000 pink slips letting staff go in the last three years. In a statement, Board President Christina Pritchett said: our superintendent remains laser-focused on the needs of our students who have suffered great harm from a global pandemic. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted from the educational goals shared by board members, parents, students, teachers and staff throughout our district.”
LAUSD looks at affordable housing for employees
Los Angeles USD is exploring a plan to provide 2,000 affordable housing units so teachers and other employees can live in the communities where they work. The initiative was announced by outgoing LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia in a news conference Wednesday morning at the Norwood Learning Village in the University Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The effort is designed to create 2,000 affordable housing units so that teachers can live in the neighborhoods where they work. It’s unclear how much the program would cost the district. According to a staff presentation prepared for this week’s school board meeting, many employees live outside of LA where it’s cheaper and some spend up to 2.5 hours commuting each way to and from work. Mr. Beutner said he hopes the first affordable housing units will go up within the next year or two. He expressed hope that the city will help the district expedite the permitting processes.
CBS Los Angeles
Los Angeles Daily News
San Diego Union-Tribune
SF police investigate alleged theft of petitions to recall school board members
San Francisco police are investigating the alleged theft of petitions in a signature drive to recall three members of the city’s school board. The probe comes as a video was posted on YouTube on Wednesday showing election volunteers confronting a man they say stole a petition during a signature drive to recall board members President Gabriela López and Commissioners Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga
San Francisco Chronicle
San Diego High on cusp of securing century of free rent for Balboa Park
San Diego High School will keep its location and stadium on the outskirts of Balboa Park for another 99 years, according to the terms of a proposed contract with the city that should be signed in the fall. Late last month, the San Diego USD Board of Education unanimously OK’d the latest version of the proposed lease agreement for 1405 Park Boulevard, which stipulates that the district will give the city two pieces of land — but pay no rent — in exchange for continued use of the 34-acre parkland site that includes Balboa Stadium. In a separate but related action on the same day, City Council members formally declared the property, “exempt surplus” land, potentially freeing it from new state restrictions that would otherwise require the city to first offer the property to affordable housing developers before leasing it to the school district. If approved, the new lease would terminate and replace the district’s existing 50-year, nearly rent-free lease agreement set to expire in 2024. It would also clear the way for the district to move forward with the first of $30m worth of promised renovations.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Majority of fourth graders now back in classrooms
For the first time since the pandemic began, the majority of 4th graders nationwide have finally made it back to classes in person full time, according to the latest federal data. The National Center for Education Statistics says that by April, nearly all K-8 schools offered at least some in-person instruction, with 56% providing full-time instruction on campus. “Today’s data reaffirms what we’ve been seeing and hearing for months—that we’ve met and exceeded President Biden’s goal of reopening the majority of K-8 schools, and that as a nation we continue to make significant progress in reopening as many schools as possible before the summer,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement on the data. A separate report from Burbio, covering 1,200 districts, including the 200 largest, found that in general, conservative-leaning states reopened schools faster than liberal-leaning ones. There was strong variation among the latter, however; those in the Northeast and the Midwest reopened a lot faster than the West Coast, which has the highest concentration of remote learners. White students were the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to be learning virtually; Asian American students were the most likely.
US Department of Education
New York Times
Biden spending plan aims to narrow financial disparities between schools
The Biden administration's latest budget proposal includes a $20bn program for high-poverty school districts. States would get additional funding if they “address longstanding funding disparities” between rich and poor districts. Zahava Stadler, a former policy director at EdBuild who currently focuses on education funding at the civil rights organization The Education Trust, said the new funding in the Biden plan “wouldn’t just add money where it’s needed; it would also offer an important push for states to change the policies that create inequity in state and local funding.” The administration has not specifically said how the new funding formula, billed as part of the long-established federal Title I program that is meant to support high-poverty schools, would work. Michael Dannenberg, vice president of the nonprofit advocacy group Education Reform Now, suggests that "They should either pump all the new money through the current Education Finance Incentive Grant formula." Failing that, he says, officials should devise "an entirely new formula that is more targeted to the highest-poverty school districts and includes even stronger incentives to create equitable state funding systems."
New York Times
CA has largest drop in spring college enrollment numbers in nation
California leads the nation with the largest drop in spring 2021 college enrollment numbers largely due to a steep decline in community college students, who have particularly struggled with pandemic hardships. The state’s overall community college and university headcount dropped by about 123,000 students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center — the largest numeric decrease of any state. “California is doing worse than the national averages by 1 or 2 percentage points in terms of the declines this spring compared with last,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the organization. The decline in community college students accounts for a large majority of California’s loss, which is in keeping with a national trend as community college enrollment was hardest hit by the pandemic. A continued drop in enrollment could lead to decreased community college funding nationally, resulting in fewer classes, support services and further reductions over time, said Thomas Brock, director of the Community College Research Center. “I think one of the greatest fears I have, and other leaders have, is that it could quickly become a downward spiral,” said Brock. “That would be the worst-case scenario.”
Los Angeles Times
U.S. state legislators move to restrict teaching about racism and bias
Over the last several months, officials nationwide have raced to enact new laws and introduce new policies meant to shape how students discuss race and bias in both the past and the present. Some have focused on restricting the use of critical race theory, a framework that examines how policies and the law perpetuate systemic racism. In other states, lawmakers have tried to restrict specific kinds of antiracism training or the teaching of “divisive” concepts. Chalkbeat has drawn up a map showing which states have introduced efforts to restrict education on racism, bias, the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history, or related topics; ranging from Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a bill banning elements of critical race theory in the classroom, and potentially prohibiting classroom simulations and community service projects, to Michigan, where a bill introduced by senior lawmakers in the stat Senate last month would cut funding to districts that teach critical race theory, the “1619 Project,” or a list of “anti-American and racist theories.”
How unions in America's largest districts are handling school reopenings
The 74 looks at how teacher unions in the United States' four largest school districts have handled school reopenings. Unions in New York and Miami-Dade County reached agreement on reopening last fall, while Chicago’s union didn’t come to terms until March. The Los Angeles union didn’t come to terms until April, and most LA schools won’t reopen until this fall. Some asked for additional staff to address mental health issues and learning loss, while others went further afield, wanting an end to standardized tests. Some demands, however, are universal. Each union wants smaller class sizes, which means more teachers, and more support employees to occupy various new programs.
Record number of students set to attend summer school this year
Millions of children this summer will participate in what's expected to be the largest summer-school program in history, powered by more than $1.2bn in targeted federal post-pandemic assistance from the American Rescue Plan. This year's programs face the task of teaching not just about math, history and English, but also addressing widespread mental health challenges among students, and in some cases, dealing with nutrition issues for children who missed out on weeks or months of school meals. Such demands have seen warn these enrichment programs aren't an instant panacea; among the concerns is that students who previously had trouble focusing on classroom work will have lost some of their coping skills. But experts also said this is a rare opportunity to focus on mental health and the underlying causes of disproportionate discipline, by training teachers to even more closely focus on the whole child. Help support quality local journalism like this. "All of us, even adults, have fallen out of practice in being in the world with each other," said Matthew Soldner, chief evaluation officer for the federal Department of Education. "I think this would be wrong to think of this as a one-and-done sort of thing." Echoing his comments Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said: "We need summer school to be really something different than it has been before. It can't just be about remediation. It has to be about helping kids get their mojo back. We have to think about the entire next year for academic recovery, and we have to think about summer school as a shot in the arm."