You are receiving this email newsletter because you are a subscriber of Education Slice (formerly Principal News) or you signed up for our email newsletter on our site.
13th May 2022
Advocates of Cal Grant reform hopeful of Newsom support
For the second consecutive year, a major overhaul to California’s main financial aid program is being proposed by lawmakers who say the current system is overly complex and excludes too many students from getting aid. Last fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 1456 after it received unanimous support in the Legislature, arguing that while he agreed changes were needed to the Cal Grant, the proposal was too costly and needed to be dealt with during the state’s annual budget process. This year, the same lawmakers that were behind AB 1456 have introduced AB 1746, which would similarly expand access to the awards by eliminating GPA requirements for community college students and guaranteeing awards to students eligible for a federal Pell Grant. It would also simplify the Cal Grant program. Should the bill become law, it’s estimated that an additional 150,000 students would become newly eligible for Cal Grants. That would include about 109,000 community college students who would be able to get awards to help pay for nontuition expenses like housing, food and transportation. Advocates hope that Mr. Newsom will signal his support for the bill when he introduces his May budget revision, which he plans to release later today. 
Substitute teacher shortage hits California’s low-income students harder
California schools with large numbers of high-needs students - low-income, English learners and foster youth - have always struggled to find substitute teachers, but this year’s COVID-19 omicron surge brought them to a breaking point. CalMatters analyzed data from the state’s seven largest urban school districts for January to determine where the substitute teacher shortage was most acute. The data shows that on average, the schools with the most high-needs students filled about 42% of their teacher absences with substitutes. The schools with the fewest high-needs students found subs for 63% of teacher absences. The disparities varied across districts; at Los Angeles for example, schools with the most low-income students found substitutes for 23% of absent teachers. Those with the fewest low-income students found substitutes for 45%. Elsewhere, at Fresno, substitutes filled about 68% of absences at the schools with the most high-needs students, while they filled 85% at the schools with the fewest high-needs students. Commenting on the study, Tara Kini, director of state policy at the Learning Policy Institute, said: “It reflects long-standing patterns for both subs and permanent teachers.”
SFUSD names new superintendent
San Francisco USD has announced Matt Wayne as its sole finalist for superintendent, ending a lengthy national search for a leader to take over the district. Mr. Wayne, who replaces Vincent Matthews, has been superintendent of Hayward USD since 2017, after a year as interim leader. Prior to that, he was assistant superintendent for education services in Hayward for four years. Mayor London Breed congratulated Wayne. “San Francisco should be a national leader when it comes to educating our kids,” she said. “As a graduate of our city’s public schools, I know how much work still needs to be done to get us where we need to be. I look forward to working with Dr. Wayne as we work to get our school district back on track.”
Ventura schools leader to retire, says pandemic had 'taken its toll'
Roger Rice, a longtime Ventura County educator, is set to retire at the end of the summer after leading Ventura USD through the COVID pandemic. The district's board of trustees accepted a letter of retirement from Rice during a closed board meeting Tuesday, then Mr. Rice made his announcement in open session. Managing the district's more than two dozen schools during the pandemic while coping with COVID-related deaths in his immediate and extended families proved "extremely challenging" and had "taken its toll, mentally and emotionally," he said. "It takes a very special person to take on the leadership through COVID and Roger rose heroically to the occasion," Dan Nelson, president of the district teacher's union, said in a statement. "It will be difficult to find someone to fill his shoes."
Coalition takes Oakland USD to court over school closures
A coalition of school families, educators and others is suing Oakland USD over its plan to  close, shrink or merge schools, alleging that district leaders violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it did not analyze whether the plan will exacerbate “significant environmental harms” to Black and Latino communities affected by the decision. The lawsuit, filed by the Justice for Oakland Students coalition this week in Alameda County Superior Court, says the school district was required by CEQA to analyze the environmental impacts of the school closures, which it says will lead to increased traffic and pollution, or to explain why the plan to close schools is exempt under that law. Students who currently walk or bike to their neighborhood schools will now have to commute, often by car, the lawsuit explains. That could lead to increased traffic and worse air quality in the the neighborhoods where the students from closed schools will be going.
How federal school accountability has developed over the years
Education Week examines the history of federal school accountability in the U.S. Although its genesis could be seen in 1965, with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which began the Title I grant program, or the 1983 release of “A Nation at Risk,” a federal report that alarmingly warned of a “rising tide of mediocrity” in U.S. schools, it views 1994, the year in which Congress first wrote specific accountability requirements covering all states into federal law, as the tipping point. That year's Improving America's Schools Act required every state to set academic content standards in reading and math, test students’ mastery of them in three grade levels, and makes them break out the data by subpopulations, such as those who are disadvantaged or learning English.
Teachers say live instruction better for mitigating learning loss
Live instruction and the use of technology apps and platforms were most helpful in supporting students’ academic progress during the pandemic, according to a Government Accountability Office report based on a teacher survey and virtual meetings with K-12 stakeholders. The findings, detailed in a report released Tuesday, also found while 69% of teachers surveyed used asynchronous learning, fewer than 40% of those surveyed said it helped at least half their students. This report is the first in a series from GAO that will examine the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 public schools, including teaching and learning during the pandemic and the effect on vulnerable populations. The findings could help districts as they navigate potential extended school closures in the future due to the pandemic or other emergencies. 
Inflation takes significant chunks out of educator wage gains
For more than 60 years, the National Education Association (NEA) has produced a statistical report that compiles public education financial data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Called Rankings & Estimates for short, it is a reliable and often-cited source of data on enrollment, expenditures, staffing and salaries. “If we want to reverse course and keep qualified teachers in the classroom and caring professionals in schools, then we must increase educator pay across the board and expand access to collective bargaining and union membership for all those working in public education,” said NEA President Becky Pringle in a press statement accompanying the report, which found that teachers are taking home $2,179 less per year, on average, than they did a decade ago, when adjusted for inflation. Looking deeper into the report, The 74 found that the average increase in teacher salaries over that 10-year period was 1.65%, but that inflation rates have wiped out these gains. 
EPA urged to use FTA policy for Clean School Bus Program
In an op-ed for School Bus Fleet Christiane Walker, an engineering consultant at Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to look at the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) approach to building and supporting the zero-emission transit market. The EPA's recently-published Clean School Bus Program, and the rebate mechanism it uses to help under-resourced school districts access funding for new vehicles, does not ensure equitable access to resources, she argues, nor does it support funding for the technical assistance necessary for successful deployment. Instead, Ms Walker says, the FTA offers a phased approach to building zero-emission capabilities. "CTE is advocating for the EPA to implement this proven model to effectively finance and support the transition to electric school bus fleets," she says. "The electric school bus market is beyond the prototype phase, but nearly all school districts are only beginning their first, small-scale deployments, and technical assistance will be even more critical for under-resourced school districts than it was for transit agencies. The Clean School Bus Program is an opportunity to transition our student transportation vehicles to zero emissions that cannot be missed, and future funding years for the program should reflect the lessons learned through FTA’s transition to zero-emission buses."
Education Secretary announces 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has announced the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership. Of the 3.7m students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists. As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

Education Slice delivers the latest, most relevant and useful intelligence to key educators, administrators, decision makers and teaching influencers, each weekday morning..

Content is selected to an exacting brief from hundreds of influential media sources and summarised by experienced journalists into an easy-to-read digest email. Education Slice enhances the performance and decision-making capabilities of individuals and teams by delivering the relevant news, innovations and knowledge in a cost-effective way.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities within Education Slice, please get in touch via email sales team

This e-mail has been sent to [[EMAIL_TO]]

Click here to unsubscribe