How One Innovative School District Has Closed
Gaps on Harder Common Core Tests

Octavio Gutierrez works with a group of students learning English, giving them a preview of what their fluent peers will learn later. Photo: Emmanuel Felton

(Hechinger Report – Emmanuel Felton – June 7, 2016)
With testing season starting up again, here’s a reminder of last year’s demoralizing news: Every California district and demographic group fared worse on the national Smarter Balanced tests, and the state’s already large test score gaps grew.

The results from those new Common Core tests – designed explicitly to look for the skills kids need in college, namely critical thinking, problem solving and analytical writing skills – have been held up as proof of the persistence of deep-seated disparities in the education provided to poor students and children of color.

But bright spots across the state could provide lessons for how California might do better in the future.

Wiseburn Unified School District in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, for example, did a particularly good job preparing its low-income black students to compete with more affluent kids across the state. And its poor Hispanic students and students still learning English performed much better than similar kids statewide.
(Read more…)

Report: California Public Colleges Not Producing Enough STEM Degrees

DSC_0208(EdSource – Fermin Leal – June 13, 2016)  California’s public colleges and universities are failing to graduate enough students with degrees in health fields and the so-called STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — to meet the state’s growing job demands, according to a new report.

The report by The Campaign for College Opportunity said California ranks near the bottom nationally in the rate of bachelor and associate degrees in those subjects at a time that it has far more STEM entry-level jobs than any other state.

“What’s pretty striking is that in spite of having the largest college and university systems in the nation, California is so far behind,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on higher education. “This is the same state that invented the iPhone, and is home to Silicon Valley.”
(Read more…)

More than 150 Local Measures on June 7 Ballot

DSC_6955(League of CA Cities)  Based on election night counts with 100 percent of all precincts reporting, 70 of the 89 tax and bond measures have passed. Several others are too close to call. All majority vote city tax proposals passed except perhaps one: a one percent sales tax measure in Compton that currently is too close to call at 49.5 percent yes.

All seven school parcel tax measures passed and 41 out of 46 school bonds were approved. 

Free Year of College for LAUSD Grads
laccd students
LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez chats with students at East LA College.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced a partnership between the City, LAUSD and the LA Community College District to provide a free year of community college for all LAUSD high school grads. The idea – an off-shoot of President Obama’s College Promise – will be funded by money the Mayor will raise along with support from an endowment LACCD will raise. More about the proposal here.

Community Colleges are increasingly becoming a first option for thousands of Latino high school graduates who either didn’t get into the UC or CSU system or can’t afford their tuition even if they got accepted. LACCD’s enrollment is more than 82% Latino, African-American or Asian.

Norwalk Councilman Leaves Post to Run Contract Cities

Big changes at Contract Cities Association – Sam Olivito, who’s run the organization for 34 years is stepping down and is already grooming the next executive director.

ShowImageMarcel Rodarte, who’s served on the Norwalk City Council since 2011, announced in early April he’s stepping in down from the Council to replace Olivito.

Contract Cities Association represents nearly 70 cities in the state who technically “contract out” their police and fire services.

Under state election laws, the Norwalk council has 60 days to decide whether to appoint a replacement for Rodarte, conduct a special election, or go with four officials until the next regular election, which is next March. More on this story here.

Letter to the Governor: Close the Achievement Gap
ryan smith
Smith was a panelist at the SoCa Latino Policy Center Forum at USC in 2014.

Ed-Trust West Executive Director Ryan Smith released an open letter to the Governor taking him to task for comments he made which appeared – certainly to Smith – to indicate the Governor is backing away from trying to make any progress on the growing educational achievement gap between white students and students of color. Smith writes:

“…you seem to provide a justification for the need for these gaps to exist. When asked about the goal to prepare all students for college and career, you remarked, “[do] you mean a career as a waiter? Do you mean a career as a window washer? Or do you mean something more elevated? Then who’s going to do all that other work that’s not elevated? Who does that? Or do we get robots for that?”

Brown’s comments were initially reported on a state news blog. He says closing the achievement gap wasn’t a goal of the Local Control Funding Formula (LACFF) initiative which dramatically changed how school districts are funded putting the onus on local school boards to decide how to spend their dollars.

Smith’s letter was published by EdSource. Read it here.