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  A daily round-up of education news and views for the Golden State. To add a recipient please click here
Wednesday, 19th June 2019



Finding Balance and Perspective as a School Principal

When Stefan Joly accepted his first position in school administration, he was told: "It's lonely at the top." Now, as an elementary school principal in Orange, CA, he finds balance in his work through his connections with students and staff. Read his reflections on the trials and joys of being a principal in his blog post for The Art of Teaching Project, here.





Vaccine bill amended to allow more exemptions

A bill that restricts vaccine medical exemptions for students enrolling in California schools was amended on Tuesday to secure the support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration. Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) has scrapped a major element of the legislation that would have restricted medical exemptions for vaccines to only the ones endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Critics considered those limitations to be too narrow. The guidelines have been expanded to included those of the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The changes come after Gov. Newsom raised concerns during the California Democratic Party’s convention in early June that a state agency might overstep a family’s medical decision. The Medical Board of California also expressed skepticism that the federal guidelines were not broad enough.

Sacramento Bee





Schools underreporting restraint and seclusion data

Public schools have significantly underreported their use of restraint and seclusion to control students’ behavior, according to the federal Government Accountability Office, which has highlighted reporting errors in New York City, Philadelphia and other districts, who entered zeros in the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection for 2015-16 when they should have indicated the data was actually "unavailable". Seven out of 10 - of more than 17,000 U.S. districts - reported zero incidents of students being physically restrained or isolated in a separate area, the GAO said.

Washington Post





LA school board votes to end random searches

The Los Angeles USD board has directed Superintendent Austin Beutner to develop an alternative plan for school safety by July 2020, one that will bring an end to random metal-detector searches of students at secondary schools. The daily searches were instituted in 1993 in the wake of several mass shootings at schools around the country and a perceived increase in violence involving firearms and other weapons on campuses. Critics, however, said the searches weren’t really random but disproportionately targeted blacks and other minorities. “Administrative random searches are incredibly invasive, dehumanizing and communicate to students that they are viewed not as promising minds but as criminals,” board member Tyler Okeke said.

Washington Post CBS Los Angeles


Erica Balakian appointed as Lemon Grove leader

Erica Balakian has been named permanent superintendent of the Lemon Grove School District, having served as interim leader since May following the resignation of Dr. Kim Berman. “My goal is to make sure the vision the board has enacted under Dr. Berman continues, implementing and creating opportunities for kids to achieve the highest level possible,” Balakian said. “We will keep engaging our kids so they can grow as ‘Lemon Grove learners,’ and continue to raise our attendance rates. We want our kids engaged to maximize what they learn and help them grow with the best schooling possible.”

San Diego Union-Tribune


Santa Fe extends superintendent's contract

The Santa Fe USD school board voted yesterday to extend Superintendent Veronica García's contract by a year to June 2021, and to give her a 6% raise. According to state numbers, test scores from the 2018 school year showed that district results in math and reading were below statewide averages.

SF Gate





New L.A. schools budget includes raises, layoffs

Los Angeles USD officials have approved a $7.4bn budget that will see employees across the district get the raises negotiated over the past year, along with smaller class sizes. However, dozens of employees will lose their jobs, while almost 200 others are facing reduced pay or hours. Overall, the district’s budget is in the black for this year and next, but Superintendent Austin Beutner has warned that the school system is rapidly spending down reserves and faces serious problems three years out: “We’re investing more money in schools than the state and federal government provides us with. Either we find more revenue or we’ll have to face a series of choices.” Earlier this month local voters rejected Measure EE, which would have raised an estimated $500m annually from new property taxes.

Los Angeles Times





Crowd-sourced fund drops Chino Valley

A crowdfunding campaign to pay Chino Valley USD’s legal costs in its defense of opening board meetings with prayer has been withdrawn. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the district in 2014; a U.S. District Court judge sided with the organization in 2016, leading to a series of forays to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision in January by the newly-elected school board not to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving it with a bill of $282,602. Pastor Jack Hibbs of the Calvary Chapel Chino Hills church told the school board in March 2016 that the district’s legal funds would be covered by the community; however, the GoFundMe campaign set up by the church has been discontinued, leaving the district to cover the costs.

San Bernardino Sun





San Carlos charter school transition complete

The San Carlos Elementary School District Board of Trustees has unanimously agreed on the conversion of Heather Elementary School from a dependent charter school to a traditional public school. The district operates as a dependent charter system, under which the schools are technically independent according to the state’s definition, but still rely on financing from the county, state and federal government while adhering to a conventional administrative system. Board President Michelle Nayfack said the transition offers the additional benefit of enhancing transparency for the school community, because dependent charters make listing the school’s achievement on the state’s accountability dashboard more cumbersome.

San Mateo Daily Journal





People believe in ‘teachers-turned-lawmakers'

Education Week profiles several teachers-turned-lawmakers as they finish their first few months in office - to determine their transition from "the schoolhouse to the statehouse." Last year, at least 43 teachers were elected in nearly two-dozen states, and lawmakers featured here underline similarities between the two roles - Oklahoma state Sen. David Bullard, a Republican who taught high school history in Texas, says: "Relationship building in the legislature is a lot like teaching. Everything is built on relationships up there." Maryland state Del. Harry Bhandari, a Democrat who teaches high school English, who has already introduced legislation requiring the state education department to lend hearing aids and other language resources to parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, reveals of attitudes to his new role: "People like a more authentic voice. I've been teaching for years. People believe in you."

Education Week

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