Thursday, February 19, 2009

New California budget wastes $10 million

California has adopted a difficult budget. The CSU system and the UC system will face significant cuts. The CSU has already been cut $246 million this year. ( for cuts in K-12 see other posts on this blog).
These cuts will lead to keeping students out of the CSU and refusing to pay salaries as bargained for in the last contract.
However, here is $10,000,000 that can be saved.
The legislature and CTC have imposed an expensive, redundant accountability system TPA/PACT on teacher preparation – one the state cannot afford in its current budget crisis. It is a gross injustice to add funding for performance assessment of future teachers into the budget when our schools are having to increase class sizes, lay off teachers, reduce career technical education, cancel transportation, and delay long needed school reforms.
Legislators, Senators and Assemblymembers , including my Senator, have been advised of this boondoggle. They have chosen to not cut these funds. That is, they choose to cut class sizes in k-12, lay off teachers, and violate contracts rather than examine this sweetheart deal for a few tenured profs.
There is no evidence that TPA/PACT are valid measures of good teaching. To the contrary, our experience tells us that one-time all-or-nothing tests like the TPA/PACT are among the poorest possible ways to predict the likelihood that a test-taker will be an excellent California teacher. The implementation of TPA assessment was initially contingent upon state funding. But SB 1209 in 2006 removed the funding requirement and required implementation of the TPA throughout the CSU effective July 1, 2008, imposing a new low quality accountability system on teacher preparation programs in addition to the performance assessments currently in place, without providing the funding needed to pay for the new program. The solution is obvious. Rescind this provision of SB 1209.
In times of crisis we should fund important things. This $10 million should be cut from the CSU budget and used for other vital, impacted interests.

For a detailed description of the problems of pact see;

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

California budget crisis

Over the cliff with Republicans

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus contains billions for schools
Stimulus Includes $5 Billion Flexible Fund for Education Innovation

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page A10
Education Secretary Arne Duncan would have $5 billion under the stimulus bill to back new approaches to improve schools, a fund that could prod states to raise standards and reward top teachers as the Obama administration presides over a massive infusion of federal education aid.
The Race to the Top Fund, as Duncan calls it, is part of about $100 billion the bill would channel to public schools, universities and early childhood education programs nationwide, helping stave off teacher layoffs, keep class sizes in check and jump-start efforts to revamp aging schools.
But the windfall also could mark the beginning of a deeper transformation of schools seven years after the No Child Left Behind law mandated an expansion of testing and new systems for school accountability.

"This is what I see as just an absolute historic opportunity," Duncan told reporters yesterday. He said the stimulus bill would help the Obama administration hammer three themes: "First and foremost, protecting children. Secondly, saving and creating jobs. And third, pushing a significant reform agenda."

President Obama in recent days has repeatedly stressed a bold approach to improve public education. In a surprise foray out of the White House last week to read to schoolchildren, he chose a D.C. public charter school as a backdrop.

"What I've asked Arne Duncan to do is to make sure that he works as hard as he can over the next several years to make sure that we're reforming our schools, that we're rewarding innovation the way that it's taking place here," Obama said at Capital City Public Charter School.

Obama campaigned on promises to increase federal funding for schools, responding to complaints from teachers unions and many educators who have long argued that Washington has made demands on schools without paying its fair share. But he also said he would shake up the status quo, drawing on a host of methods, including performance-pay plans with teachers' blessing, alternative teacher training programs and charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently run.

The stimulus presents an unheard-of opportunity to push both agendas -- at least in the short term.

"You're not creating winners or losers," said Brown University education professor Martin West. "It's a lot easier to innovate when you can do it with new money."

Even as school leaders line up projects to overhaul old schools and seek ways to soften budget cuts, they also are on the lookout for innovative programs worthy of federal dollars and the national spotlight.

Arlington County Superintendent Robert G. Smith said he might seek a grant from Duncan to expand a program that provides extra support for Latino and African American students in Advanced Placement classes.

Montgomery County Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said federal backing for innovation is "a smart move" because some of the best school reform strategies percolate from the ground up. "The reason why Montgomery County does so well . . . is innovative teaching and learning, so there's no doubt our people have great ideas."
Over two years, the stimulus bill would funnel $53.6 billion to states to prevent layoffs and create jobs, and the bulk of that would go to schools and universities, including funds to modernize aging buildings. Another $25 billion would help students who are disabled or in poverty, groups the federal government has long pitched in to educate.
The package includes $17 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant for needy college students by $500, to $5,350, and about $4 billion to expand federal preschool classes and child-care programs.

Duncan's $5 billion fund would be a pot of discretionary money much larger than any of his predecessors had, former education secretary Margaret Spellings said. It would allow Duncan to award grants to states that show progress in boosting student achievement, and he said it would support efforts to create better tests and shore up data systems to track student achievement.
He said he also would seek to use the fund "to really challenge states and partner with them to dramatically raise standards . . . and think very differently about how we recruit great teachers, reward them, recognize and incent them."

The fund would include $650 million to support partnerships between schools, or schools and nonprofit groups, to "scale up what works," Duncan said. Separately, the stimulus bill would include $200 million for teacher performance-pay programs.

Alexa Marrero, spokeswoman for Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, said there is broad support for many of the initiatives Duncan is likely to push. But she said education policy should be crafted through debate over reauthorization of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, not as part of the stimulus package.

"Congress has really worked hard to set out a path for reforming No Child Left Behind and for education reform more broadly," Marrero said. "The fact that legislation that is supposed to be about economic stimulus is being used to enact substantive education reform without the benefit of open debate and the inclusion of the American people, that's where the concern lies."

Education committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said the fund will be critical to improving professional development for teachers and creating career incentives for those who take on additional responsibilities.

"This is a very serious amount of money in its total amount for education," Miller said. "Both the president and the secretary do not want to lose a year or two in the efforts to achieve reform that are necessary to create a modern, effective school system throughout this country."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Arne Duncan and NCLB

From U.S. News and World Report, Thursday, February 5, 2009. See
What Arne Duncan Thinks of No Child Left Behind
The new education secretary talks about the controversial law and financial aid forms
By Eddy Ramírez , Kim Clark

Newly minted Education Secretary Arne Duncan has big plans for improving the nation's schools. His first order of business is drumming up support for a stimulus measure that includes an unprecedented $140 billion for education. The 44-year-old former leader of Chicago Public Schools says the money will modernize schools, help stave off teacher layoffs, and spur meaningful reforms. "The fact is that we are not just in an economic crisis; we are in an educational crisis," he says. "We have to educate ourselves to a better economy."

The subsequent item on his agenda will be fixing the Bush Administration's No Child Left Behind law. His opinion of it: "I think we are lying to children and families when we tell children that they are meeting standards and, in fact, they are woefully unprepared to be successful in high school and have almost no chance of going to a good university and being successful."

But Duncan is also interested in other people's opinions. He's meeting with the heads of the two national teachers unions and, if and when the stimulus passes, he plans to travel the country to gather input from school officials and families about ways to improve the federal testing law. Duncan also says he is in the market for ideas to rename the law.

He discussed some of those plans in an interview with U.S. News. Below are highlights of that conversation.
On a federal stimulus for schools: Duncan says a large chunk of the $140 billion destined for education will help states maintain and create jobs. "My concern is that hundreds of thousands of good teachers, not just bad teachers, are going to go, and that would be devastating," he says. "It is to no one's advantage if class size skyrockets or librarians get eliminated or school counselors disappear."

Duncan says the federal stimulus for schools would give him unprecedented leverage to innovate and improve schools. The stimulus provides for $15 billion in discretionary funds that he says he will give to states that agree to implement the following three pieces: expanding early childhood education, creating better student assessments, and improving teacher quality. "If we can bucket all these together and work with set of states with significant resources to make this happen, I think it's a game changer."
On fixing No Child Left Behind: As the former leader of Chicago Public Schools, Duncan lived through what he called the unintended consequences of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law. Duncan supports the focus on accountability for student achievement, but he wants to make the law less punitive. "I know there are schools that are beating the odds where students are getting better every year, and they are labeled failures, and that can be discouraging and demoralizing," he says.

Duncan also wants states to adopt academic standards that are more rigorous and aligned with those of other leading nations. "The idea of 50 states doing their own thing doesn't make sense," Duncan says, referring to the current patchwork of standards and tests. "I worry about the pressure because of NCLB to dummy those standards down."

Duncan says he is concerned about overtesting but he thinks states could solve the problem by developing better tests. He also wants to help them develop better data management systems that help teachers track individual student progress. "If you have great assessments and real-time data for teachers and parents that say these are [the student's] strengths and weaknesses, that's a real healthy thing," he says."

Asked if he will push for passage of a new version of NCLB, Duncan says that he first wants to go on a cross-country listening tour and that he hopes that Congress will reauthorize a new version of the law late in the year. "Having lived with this, I have a good sense of what makes sense and what doesn't," he says. "But I want to be clear that I want to get out there and learn from people. And I think ultimately we should rebrand [the law]."

Asked what he would call a new version of the law, Duncan answered, "Don't know yet. I'm open to ideas."
On higher education: Duncan did not offer too many concrete ideas on higher ed. He says community colleges will play a vital role for an extraordinary number of adults who need training for new jobs in the health, technology, and green sectors. That's why he wants to make sure that more students are prepared for college and leave college with a degree.
He says he will offer colleges incentives to graduate more students on time. "We need to get dramatically more of our students not just into college but through college," he says. Duncan also wants to remove barriers to college by making it easier for students to complete financial aid forms. "You need a Ph.D. to figure [the FAFSA] out," he says. "I think we have to simplify information and get information to students and families earlier.
PHOTO SIDEBAR: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Friday, February 06, 2009

Organizing for Social Change

Session A
10:30-11:30 a.m.
Organizing in the Style of the Obama Campaign and Cesar Chavez (Organizing to Change NCLB), Duane Campbell, Democratic Socialists of America

Youth Rising – Radical Healing and
Activism in the Post Civil Rights Era
Saturday, February 21, 2009
8:30 am – 2:00 pm
University Union, Sacramento State

Keynote Speaker: DR. Shawn Ginwright. Associate Professor. San Francisco State University.

15th. Annual Multicultural Education Conference. Sacramento State University
Free. Open to the Public.
8:30 AM. – 2 P.M.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Multicultural Education Conference; Sacramento

Youth Rising – Radical Healing and
Activism in the Post Civil Rights Era
Saturday, February 21, 2009
8:30 am – 2:00 pm
University Union, Sacramento State

Keynote Speaker: DR. Shawn Ginwright. Associate Professor. San Francisco State University.

15th. Annual Multicultural Education Conference.
Free. Open to the Public.
8:30 AM. – 2 P.M.

The Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department (BMED) sponsors an
annual Multicultural Education Conference to provide an opportunity
for Sac State faculty and educators to join forces in their efforts
to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the
Sacramento region.
The conference also provides a forum for addressing issues that
particularly affect educators serving culturally and linguistically diverse

For more information:

Contact: Dr. Lisa William-White. 278-7778.