Friday, August 27, 2010

Early Childhood Education Update

Thanks to the efforts of parents, teachers, students and community members working with Oakland Parents Together and OEA, On Friday, August 27, the district found $2.4 million to keep 5 of 7 Child Development Centers slated for closure open through December. 

With state cuts to pre-school education, it is vitally important for all of us to continue to advocate for our youngest and most vulnerable students.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's missing for back-to-school? 135,000 teachers

 By Tami Luhby, senior writer
August 20, 2010:

NEW YORK ( -- More children are crowding into classrooms in Modesto, Calif. Parents are paying extra to send their kids to full-day kindergarten in Queen Creek, Ariz. And the school buses stopped rolling in one St. Louis area school district. These are but a few of the unwelcome changes greeting children as they start the school year. Tight fiscal times are forcing school districts to lay off teachers, enlarge class sizes, cut programs and charge for services that were once free.

"School districts are going to be stripped down from what there were a few years ago," said Jack Jennings, head of the Center on Education Policy, an advocacy group. "They are really feeling the economic squeeze." The national economic downturn has sucked state coffers dry, forcing cuts to school districts and municipalities. The Obama administration's stimulus package softened the impact, but many districts still found themselves having to downsize.

"Every student is being affected in some way or another," said Dan Domenech, executive director of the America Association of School Administrators.

Teachers are experiencing the brunt of the budget cuts this year, even though Congress last week gave states an additional $10 billion to keep an estimated 140,000 educators and support staff employed. Still, the number of teachers who won't have a job this school year could be as high as 135,000, experts said.

Read the rest of the story

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CA to Receive $213 Million to Stabilize Local Schools

California Department of Education News Release

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Announces California to
Receive $213 Million in Federal Funding to Stabilize Local Schools

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today announced California's kindergarten through grade twelve public schools will receive $213 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) Phase II federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This is the last portion of SFSF funds California was eligible to receive.

"I applaud President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for getting critically needed funds to states in order to help schools in these dire economic times," said O'Connell. "School districts are struggling against massive state budget cuts, teacher layoffs, and program cutbacks. This funding comes at a critical time, and I have directed California Department of Education staff to disburse the funds to schools as quickly as possible."

SFSF is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The federal funding is designed to help schools avert layoffs and advance reform in the areas of teacher quality, standards and assessments, data to improve instruction, and support of struggling schools. SFSF funding came in two phases. In the first phase, California received a grant of $2.6 billion in the spring of 2009, and an additional $355 million in the fall of 2009 for kindergarten through grade twelve public education. This week's announcement of the remaining $213 million in additional funding is the second and last phase of SFSF funding.

Legislative approval is still needed in order for CDE to have statutory authority to distribute the funds to local educational agencies. Similar authority is needed before CDE can disburse new funds coming to California through the federal Education Jobs Fund bill.
"I urge the Governor and Legislature to approve the state budget or pass stand alone-legislation immediately so CDE can distribute these funds to schools that desperately need them," O'Connell said.

"With this application, California provided us with basic information on what is working in their classrooms," said Duncan in a statement on the SFSF funding. "This data is a critical tool in helping us work together—with students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and elected officials at every level—to improve education for California's students."
California's application included information on how the state will lay the foundation for reform including:

    •    How teachers and principals are evaluated and how this information is used to support, retain, promote, or remove staff;
    •    How the state will implement its California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System;
    •    How the state provides student academic growth data on reading/language arts and mathematics in a way that improves instructional programs; and
    •    A list of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that are identified as persistently lowest-achieving schools.
For information on SFSF, please visit State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

L.A. Times ranks teachers based on student scores

To comment on the article below go to The Education Report


By Katy Murphy
Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Los Angeles Unified didn’t use its wealth of student test score data to try to evaluate the effectiveness of its teachers, but the L.A. Times did.

The newspaper collected seven years worth of California Standards Test data for more than 600,000 students in grades 3 through 5. Using a method called “value added,” which is designed to estimate each student’s academic progress from one year to the next, the reporters rated 6,000 teachers in the system, from “least effective” to “most effective,” based on whether their students made more (or less) progress, on average, than others in their grade throughout the district.
Later this month, the paper plans to publish the database — with the teachers’ names and how they stack up, by this measure, against their colleagues. You can read more about the project here, and the first story in the series here.

The reporters — with the help of a consultant from RAND Corp., who conducted the statistical analysis — found that some teachers seemed to consistently raise their students’ scores higher than others. They also found that the highest-ranked teachers were scattered throughout the city, not concentrated in the wealthier areas; that the teacher matters more than the school; and that education, experience and training didn’t seem to have much to do with whether a teacher was able to bring up her students’ test scores.

The cover photo is of a teacher who fell in the bottom 10 percent of the rankings. A reporter visited his classroom and found a marked difference between his teaching style and student interest than that of a teacher next door, who scored highly on their analysis.

Granted, student progress on test scores can only tell you so much about a teacher. Is this sort of “value-added” analysis something school districts should do more of, if only to help people get better at what they do (and do you think it would)? How should such data be used? How would you use it, as a parent, a teacher or a principal? Do you agree with the Times’ decision to publish the names and ratings of each teacher?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Teachers

New teachers we would love to hear from you!  

Let us know how your first (second, or third, etc  year is going). 

Email the OEA Advocate at:
Please include your name, grade (for students), school site, email, and a photo related to your article with your post.

Education Jobs Bill Passed!


On August 10, the House passed the education jobs/FMAP bill by a vote of 247-161.  See how your Representative voted on this critical vote and how your Senators voted last week.   Reports indicate the President could sign the bill as early as this evening! New figures from the U.S.Department of Education estimate that some 161,000 educators who had received pink slips will be heading back to school this fall as a result of this win.

Thank your Representative and Senators who supported the bill and express your disappointment to those who did not. See how many jobs will be saved in your state. This victory could not have been achieved without the help of activists around the country.  Together, you sent over 300,000 e-mails and made over 100,000 phone calls to Congress.
Thank you!!

NEA Government Relations
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

State of California Adopts New State Standards

August 03, 2010

SFGate: State school board adopts Common Core standards
This from SFGate:

California will toss out its current curriculum and require students to read the same textbooks and learn the same arithmetic as children in most other states, the Board of Education decided Monday.
The board unanimously adopted national academic standards to be in sync with schools across the country. So far, about 30 other states have also adopted the so-called Common Core State Standards.
The new content means discarding the standards California officials adopted about 13 years ago - standards widely considered among the best in the country.

Yet despite initial concerns that the new national academic standards would dumb down California's curriculum, state education officials said Monday that with just a few tweaks and some additional content, the new standards will give kids a stronger, more organized approach to math and English.
"The Common Core standards build upon the best of California's rigorous standards with the best of what other states and high-performing countries offer their students," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. "They are designed to be relevant to the real world, and reflect the knowledge and skills that students need for success in college and work."

"The Common Core standards build upon the best of California's rigorous standards with the best of what other states and high-performing countries offer their students," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. "They are designed to be relevant to the real world, and reflect the knowledge and skills that students need for success in college and work."

The state board adopted the national standards while including additional topics at some grade levels to beef up areas officials felt were lacking, including penmanship and presentation skills as well as an earlier introduction to algebra in eighth grade.

The new standards will give California a better shot at a federal Race to the Top education reform grant, which would help fund the implementation.

The state is a finalist for the federal stimulus funding and is eligible for up to $700 million. The adoption of the Common Core standards was a prominent part of the state's Race to the Top application, dependent on the approval by the State Board of Education.

The new standards will provide a more logical sequence of learning, especially through arithmetic and into algebra, state Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss said.

The aim of common standards is to raise the academic bar nationwide and allow for an apples-to-apples comparison in standardized tests. In addition, the standards would make it easier to share successful teaching techniques, curriculum and standardized tests and make transitions smoother for students who move to another state.

The new standards are expected to be in place by the 2013-14 school year, Reiss said.
That's a tight timeline to create and adopt new textbooks, train teachers and find the money to buy the books for each of the state's 6.3 million students, especially given budget cuts hitting districts across the state.

"The success or failure of this venture will depend to a great extent on the substance and the adequacy of the implementation plan," said Greg Geeting, chairman of the state's Academic Standards Commission, during public comment at the Monday board meeting. "If you leave this meeting today thinking that you have done a great thing, you will be sadly mistaken if the implementation plan is skimpy or underfunded."

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(C) San Francisco Chronicle 2010