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23rd November 2022
Holiday ransomware attacks hit education hardest
The education sector is especially vulnerable to ransomware attacks over holidays and weekends, according to a global survey by cybersecurity firm Cybereason. Over half (54%) education information technology professionals surveyed said “it took us longer to assess the scope of the attack” over a holiday or weekend, while 42% said they take longer to respond to and stop holiday and weekend incidents compared to those on weekdays. The same percentage (42%) reported greater financial losses from holiday and weekend cyberattacks. Schools are also more likely than other sectors to spend more time recovering from a ransomware attack, Cybereason found. On average, 16% of cybersecurity professionals across industries, compared to 25% of those in education, reported taking one to two days to recover. While 13% of all industry cybersecurity professionals recovered in three to six days on average, 28% of school professionals said they needed that amount of time. To better protect schools from cyberattacks, experts have recommended districts vet new technologies, collaborate with instructional leaders, phase in multi-factor authentication and create a security team.
Los Angeles' Latino and female test scores indicate supports required
In the spring of 2022, California students in grades three through eight and eleven took the Smarter Balanced Assessments, an online English Language Arts and Mathematics test designed to measure students' college and career readiness. Los Angeles USD students who passed ELA declined from 43.93% in the 2018-19 school year to 41.67%, a 2.26 percentage point decrease. Mathematics declined from 33.5% to 28.47% – a 5.03 percentage point decrease. The greatest decline was observed in female students, a 2.76 percentage point decrease in ELA and 6.16 percentage point decrease in mathematics, and Latino students, a 2.71 percentage point decrease in ELA and 5.4 percentage point decrease in mathematics. Ana Teresa Dahan, managing director at GPSN, noting young girls had been trending ahead in STEM pre-pandemic, suggests: “One of the challenges all women and young girls interested in math and science face is that we're not always given the confidence that those are spaces for us and that those are areas we can excel in.” She also says the "isolating nature" of online learning and the lack of in-person socialization took a toll on young girls especially.
Recruiting and retaining school board members of color
Almost 90% of school board members are white, according to a 2020 EdWeek Research Center survey, often not reflecting their districts' student body. Just 38% of current board members are planning to return amid the politicization of board races and the national pushback against inclusive lessons and books on race, racism, and LGBTQ issues, according to a survey by School Board Partners. Recruiting and retaining school board members of color in particular is a challenge for many reasons, including little to no pay; a lack of background, expertise, and assistance in policymaking; and increasing scrutiny from parents and community members of equitable school policies. “It’s probably one of the most thankless jobs as elected officials go. And then on top of that, you really don’t get service, you don’t get paid for it,” laments Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, deputy executive director for the National School Boards Association. Ethan Ashley, co-founder of School Board Partners, recommends that school board members of color, or of other historically marginalized identities, need greater financial assistance and also community-building support to not feel isolated.
California’s electric vehicle struggling to gain traction
The measure to tax the wealthiest Californians to raise funds for electric vehicles and wildfire fighting qualified for the state ballot in June, however it's since struggled to gain traction. On Tuesday, despite widespread support, Californians resoundingly rejected the Prop 30 initiative, with 59% voting it down. In short, suggests Blanca Begert, Gov. Gavin Newsom "broke party ranks," while billionaires launched an effective opposition campaign. The California Teachers Association announced their formal opposition too. The group took issue with putting "a special interest lock box" on taxes that would traditionally fund schools. There is money for clean transportation however, Begert notes. California legislators recently approved a historic $54bn in climate spending, with $10bn set aside for electric vehicle funding over five years. There is also money from the federal Inflation Reduction Act coming in for EV incentives, as well as an expected $384m from the Infrastructure Bill for charging stations in California. Experts fear it may not be enough however.
Miguel Marco interviewed
An interview with Miguel Marco, who earlier this month went to Washington, D.C. to receive the annual Terrel H. Bell Award, given by the U.S. Department of Education to outstanding principals. Marco, principal of Helen Wittmann Elementary in Cerritos, is one of nine recipients and the only one from California this year. Wittmann is one of 30 schools in ABC Unified, with 18,000 students in Los Angeles County. On how the pandemic helped him grow as a leader, Marco asserts: "I have learned to be flexible and pragmatic. It’s OK to take input from people and think differently. One reason we were able to navigate that period so well is we figured out as a staff it’s not business as usual. The relationship is very different than other places. We are not contentious. We listen to each other. Don’t get me wrong, it has not been easy. But at the end of the day, we walked away saying, we’re all in agreement on this matter and we’re gonna move forward."
In California, 10% of legislature now identifies as LGBTQ
At least 10% of state lawmakers in California identify publicly as LGBTQ, believed to be a first for any U.S. legislature, NBC reports. At least 519 'out' LGBTQ candidates won elected office this year, in positions ranging from school board up to Congress and governor, said LGBTQ Victory Fund press secretary Albert Fujii. The group, along with Equality California, have calculated that California is the first state to pass the 10% threshold. The U.S. census has found that 9.1% of Californians identified as LGBT — compared with 7.9% for the U.S. overall.
Santa Clarita Valley’s schools 'a symphony of success'
Six of the Santa Clarita Valley’s high schools competed in the 2022 Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association Championships and brought home many accolades. The local high schools that competed were: Castaic High School Marching Band and Colorguard, Golden Valley High School Marching Band, Saugus Marching Centurions, William S. Hart High School, Valencia High School and West Ranch Wildcat Marching Band.

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