California education news: What’s the latest?

Monday, March 13, 2023, 10:53 am

Link copied.Sixty school districts hiring at Northern California job fair

Dozens of school districts from throughout Northern California will be represented at a Pre-K-12 employment fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in Sacramento.

Sixty local education agencies are recruiting for a wide range of positions, including teachers, language, speech and hearing therapists, mental health clinicians, and paraeducators, as well as classified positions, including office, technical, facilities, and food service staff.

The event is co-hosted by the California Center on Teaching Careers, the Tulare County Office of Education and the Sacramento County Office of Education.

The in-person event will be at the Sacramento County Office of Education, 10474 Mather Blvd. in Sacramento.

Participants can also participate virtually.

For more information and to register, go here.

Diana Lambert

Monday, March 13, 2023, 9:53 am

Link copied.People’s Forum on Community Schools in Sacramento Wednesday

Teachers and parents from four Sacramento-area schools and educational leaders from San Diego Unified will hold a People’s Forum on Community Schools on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The state has made $4.1 billion available to school districts to establish community schools through the California Community Schools Partnership Program.

Community schools take an integrated approach to students’ academic, health and social-emotional needs by making connections with an array of government and community services and by building trusting relationships with students and families.

Forum organizers want school district leaders to use shared-governance models when establishing community schools. Shared governance ensures that educators, students and their families sit at the same table as school administrators to make decisions about their neighborhood schools, according to a news release from the California Teachers Association.

Parents and educators representing Folsom-Cordova, Natomas, Sacramento City and Twin Rivers unified schools districts as well as educational leaders from San Diego Unified School District will be in attendance at the forum.


Diana Lambert

Friday, March 10, 2023, 12:04 pm

Link copied.Tensions high in San Rafael City Schools contract talks

A contract dispute between San Rafael City Schools and its elementary teachers union is moving to a state-assisted fact-finding process following the failure of mediated talks, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

At the same time, the San Rafael Teachers Association and the district disagree on whether a new contract offer proposed by the district last week — just after more than 20 hours of mediation ended — was appropriate.

Molly O’Donoghue, the union vice president, said the district’s latest offer was “illegal, improper and in bad faith” because of its timing. “It was put forth during the impasse process, between mediation and fact-finding,” she said.

She declined to comment on the details of the district’s proposal, telling the Independent Journal the union is “maintaining confidentiality.”

District Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said its latest offer was a 13% pay increase over two years — 10% for the current school year and 3% in 2023-24. That was up from the previous district proposal for a 4.7% increase in the current school year, retroactive to July 1.

The union has sought a 14% pay hike in the current year, retroactive to July 1.

Thomas Peele

Friday, March 10, 2023, 11:51 am

Link copied.San Francisco Unified failed to file wage reports with state; employees could face tax problems

Yet another major payroll problem has hit the San Francisco Unified School District.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported late Wednesday that the district failed to file three quarterly wage reports to the state in 2022, an omission that could delay tax returns and refunds to teachers and other district employees. Thousands of people could be affected.

In a statement, SFUSD Superintendent Matt Wayne announced that while the district collected taxes and paid them to the state on schedule, the payments did not differentiate the amount of taxes paid by each employee.

It is not yet known if this mistake is related to the district’s use of EMPowerSF, a payroll deduction software system that has been the subject of major complaints from the teachers union, the Chronicle reported.

“We are deeply sorry for the stress and concern this has caused our staff and their families,” Wayne said in a statement. “SFUSD is undertaking accountability measures to ensure this does not happen again. We are urgently working to rectify this error and the possible cascading impacts for employees.”

It was not clear how many of the 9,000 district employees were affected by the incorrect filing, but all employees were notified Tuesday that their tax returns will be complicated by the mistake. The district is working with the California Franchise Tax Board on the matter.

EdSource staff

Friday, March 10, 2023, 10:12 am

Link copied.New bill would give homeless high school seniors $1,000 a month

Amid a spike in homelessness, California lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would grant $1,000 a month of guaranteed income to homeless high school seniors. 

Senate Bill 333, introduced by state Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, would provide the funds through a guaranteed income pilot program called Success, Opportunity, & Academic Resilience.

There are an estimated 270,000 homeless youths across the state — about 15,000 of whom are high school seniors, according to a 2020 report out of the University of California, Los Angeles. Under this proposal, students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence would receive five monthly installments of $1,000 from April to August 2024.

“We must stop graduating 15,000 high school students into homelessness each year,” Cortese said in a news release. “These payments, made with no strings attached, enable students to cover basic needs so they may take crucial steps toward college or career.”

One recent survey found that more than 90% of unhoused youth respondents aspired to a career goal that required further education, but only 16% believed they would be able to attend or graduate college within the next five years.

The program is intended only for the class of 2024, according to the bill, but could be extended. For the record, SB 333 is a reintroduction of SB 1341 (2022), which would also have provided direct cash assistance to students.

Karen D'Souza

Thursday, March 9, 2023, 10:43 am

Link copied.Biden’s budget plan aims to boost childcare funding by billions

President Biden’s 2024 budget plan aims to boost childcare and early childhood education funding by billions of dollars, as Reuters reported.

The proposal, which Biden will deliver to Congress today, revisits key items from the president’s 2023 budget proposal that were later removed during negotiations with Congress. However, prospects may well be even slimmer this year, as Reuters noted, given the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The White House argues that lack of access to childcare is a key factor depressing women’s participation in the workforce, citing a forecast that the country’s economic output could drop by $290 billion a year beginning in 2030 if the childcare crisis persists.

Administration officials said Biden would continue to push for more spending on the nation’s “care economy,” but could also take executive action to forward his agenda, such as last week’s announcement that microchip firms seeking funds from a $52 billion U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research program have to include plans for childcare.

Biden’s 2024 proposal includes $22.1 billion for existing early care and education programs, up 10.5% from the 2023 level, including $9 billion for federal block grants. This higher level of funding, roughly $400 billion over 10 years, would increase childcare options for 16 million more young children while reducing costs for parents, according to the White House. Biden’s budget is expected to include free preschool for all 4-year-olds as well as an expanded child tax credit.

Karen D'Souza

Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:43 am

Link copied.Mother alleges black child called “a slave” at Orange County school

An Orange County school district is investigating allegations that an elementary school student allegedly called a Black classmate a “slave,” NBC Los Angeles reported.

Jasmine Harris, the mother of the child to whom the comment was allegedly made, told the station that a classmate of her 10-year-old daughter called her a “slave” last week at Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana.

“Randomly the little boy had came up to her — swinging a jump rope, trying to hit her with a jump rope, telling her, ‘get back to work you slave,”’ Harris told the station. The race of the other child involved in the incident was not immediately clear.

Harris has pulled her daughter from the school and told the station she considers the incident a hate crime.

Santa Ana Unified School District officials said in a statement that they have “initiated a formal independent investigation” of the alleged incident.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:42 am

Link copied.LAUSD workers union moves closer to striking

An important Los Angeles Unified workers union is one step closer to a possibly disruptive strike. SEIU Local 99, which represents 30,000 custodians, cafeteria workers, special education assistants and other essential employees, gave LAUSD a 10-day notice on Tuesday to end its extended contract with the district, including its no strike provision.

SEIU Local 99 is pushing for increased wages, more staffing and expanded health care benefits as it negotiates with the district following the expiration of its last contract in 2020. That contract had been extended until now.       

Union members took a strike vote in February, with 96% in favor of giving the bargaining team the power to declare a strike if the union and the district do not reach an agreement through the impasse process.

“Workers are fed-up with living on poverty wages — and having their jobs threatened for demanding equitable pay,” SEIU Local 99 executive director Max Arias said. “Workers are fed-up with the short staffing at LAUSD – and being harassed for speaking up.” 

In a press release, LAUSD shared its frustration with the union’s decision to move closer to a strike, saying it “would cause a significant disruption to instruction, and would adversely impact our entire system.” 

The district said its offerings included a 15% wage increase over three years, retroactive to July 2021. The district is also offering to bring its minimum wage to more than $20 an hour and to secure benefits for employees who work four or more hours a day, according to the district statement. 

SEIU Local 99 is pushing for a 30% wage increase and an hourly increase of $2.

Kate Sequeira

Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 10:59 am

Link copied.Stockton Unified board approves layoffs that includes five directors

Last night the board of Stockton Unified approved layoffs for 19 full-time positions that include five directors.

This comes on the heels of an audit revealing potential fraud and other illegal fiscal practices, and just a week after the board terminated the contract for the district’s emeritus contract of Superintendent John Ramirez Jr.

The Stockton Record reports that some of the positions cut include the assistant superintendent of student support services, the director for the family resource center, maintenance and operations, educational services, community relations and business development, and technology. The layoffs will be effective July 1.

These positions were funded through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), one-time federal funds doled out due to COVID-19.

Two district directors and an assistant superintendent included in the positions are already on leave, though the district declined to say why. One of those is Director of Family Resource Center Motecuzoma Sanchez, the founder of the website 209 Times.

Emma Gallegos

Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 10:00 am

Link copied.LAUSD rolls out new safety apps for students and staff

LAUSD rolled out new apps aimed at streamlining communication and improving safety on campus, during a board meeting Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Times describes one app as being aimed at school employees in emergencies and the other as being aimed at students, staff, parents and other community members for non-emergency safety issues anonymously.

The first app functions as a sort of internal 9-1-1. It allows school employees to report an active assailant in progress by holding a button for three seconds. The alert automatically detects the location of the user, prompting an alert that goes to the top of the queue for school police. It allows users to text about their situation.

Students and others who want to report an active emergency are still urged to call 9-1-1.

The second app, Los Angeles Schools Anonymous Reporting or LASAR, is aimed at non-emergency situations, such as vaping in the bathroom, graffiti, compromised fence or other potential threats. The app allows video or photos to be uploaded, and it includes geolocation information.

“The ability for the community, for students and the workforce for example, to automatically real-time relay, in an anonymous way or not, potential threats to a student, to a school, is critically important,” said L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho.

Board member Nick Melvoin expressed concern that the district was rolling out too many apps at once, which could be confusing. At the same board meeting, the district also rolled out an app aimed at parents who want to check in on their student’s progress and another with general district information.

Emma Gallegos

Tuesday, March 7, 2023, 11:23 am

Link copied.West Contra Costa Unified to expand Mandarin dual immersion school

By popular demand, West Contra Costa Unified will expand its landmark West County Mandarin School from grades K-6 to TK-8 in the 2024-25 school year.

West County Mandarin School was initiated in 2016, and is the first Mandarin dual immersion public school in California to be authorized as an international baccalaureate school. The district’s school board, at a meeting March 1, unanimously voted to expand the program to include grades seven, eight and transitional kindergarten.

While community members enthusiastically welcomed the expansion, not all agreed on the district’s plan for locating the school. The school is currently housed at the Pinole Middle School campus, but needs more room to accommodate the additional students. Some parents have urged West Contra Costa Unified to move the school back to its original location at the district’s Serra campus in Richmond, which they said is a more central location for families since the school enrolls students from all over the district.

The district proposed keeping grades TK-5 at the Pinole Middle School campus and moving grades six to eight to Betty Reid Soskin Middle School in El Sobrante. The school board approved that plan with only two board members, Mister Phillips and Leslie Reckler, voting no.


Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, March 7, 2023, 10:51 am

Link copied.Stockton Unified terminates contract with superintendent

Stockton Unified’s school board voted in closed session Feb. 28 to terminate the emeritus contract of Superintendent John Ramirez Jr., following a state audit revealing evidence of potential fraud, according to the Stockton Record.

Ramirez will still collect a full salary of $285,000 plus benefits for one year, according to the Record.

Ramirez had resigned from the superintendent position June 9, 2022, according to the Record, but continued in an emeritus status. Weeks later, a report was released by the San Joaquin County civil grand jury showing financial mismanagement and dysfunction at the school district, the news organization reported.

On Feb. 14, the state’s Fiscal Crisis Management Team released a report detailing potentially illegal financial activities, including allegedly ignoring board policies to award a $7 million contract for air filters, according to the Record. The agency spent nearly a year working on the report.

Ali Tadayon

Monday, March 6, 2023, 8:31 am

Link copied.Bones used in UC Berkeley anthropology classes likely taken from Native American graves

For decades, anthropology students at UC Berkeley have been taught with the remains of at least 95 people excavated from gravesites — many likely Native Americans, according to ProPublica.

The bones were stored in wooden bins, sorted by body part.

Professor Tom White, who used the collection to teach his students for decades, said the bones had been handed down from anthropology professor to anthropology professor for years and came with no records.

The university analyzed the bones in 2020 and discovered most were likely Native American. The university has been at odds with tribal nations in the past because of its handling of ancestral remains, according to ProPublica.

More than 30 years ago, Congress ordered universities that received federal funds to report any human remains in their collection, but UC Berkeley has been slow to do so. The university estimates it still holds the remains of 9,000 indigenous people in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology alone, according to the article.

UC Berkeley officials declined interview requests, according to ProPublica, but issued a statement saying there is now a moratorium on using ancestral remains for teaching and research at the university. The Hearst Museum also has been closed to the public so the staff can prioritize repatriation.

EdSource staff

Monday, March 6, 2023, 7:51 am

Link copied.New legislation would ban textbook bans

A bill introduced last month would require that textbooks used in California schools represent people from all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations.

The author of Assembly Bill 1078, Corey Jackson, D-Riverside, told the Sacramento Bee that the current curriculum used in schools often erases Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ voices.

“When students are exposed to a narrow range of experiences, they may struggle to relate to the material, which causes them to disengage from learning, or even develop biases that limit them from engaging with people from different backgrounds,” Jackson told The Bee.

The bill will prohibit school districts from banning curriculum, textbooks and other instructional materials without state approval.

EdSource staff

Friday, March 3, 2023, 9:55 am

Link copied.Tapping into family engagement can boost literacy and math, experts say

Family engagement may be key to student academic success, as K-12 Dive reported. 

A strong connection between school and family leads to higher grades, test scores, attendance and graduation rates, said Karen Mapp, a senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education during the U.S. Department of Education’s first online panel discussion in its Family Engagement Learning Series.

“Family engagement is not a new concept,” Mapp said, as K-12 reported. “It is an essential ingredient to the success of our students in our schools, but we still are battling a little bit to try to get people to accept this and realize this.”

The Education Department’s series, launched in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Overdeck Family Foundation, aims “to boost family engagement and lift parent voices,” the department said in a statement. The online series comes several months after the Education Department disbanded its newly formed National Parents and Families Engagement Council. The council’s dissolution followed the filing of a lawsuit by a group of conservative activists who claimed the effort lacked “balanced” perspectives. 

A parent’s relationship with their child is “the most underutilized natural resource in education,” said Alejandro Gibes de Gac, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Springboard Collaborative, during the session. 

Karen D'Souza

Friday, March 3, 2023, 9:42 am

Link copied.Coalition urges California to invest $150 billion in climate-resilient, healthy schools

A coalition of health, city planning and education nonprofits issued a report Thursday urging California leaders to invest $150 billion over a decade to build and renovate schools to mitigate to the increasingly hazardous effects of climate change on children’s health and well-being.

“Most of California’s schools were built long before anyone knew anything about climate change,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder of UndauntedK12, an Oakland nonprofit that seeks clean-energy solutions to community challenges and infrastructure inequities. “These buildings were not designed to handle things like wildfire smoke and extreme heat. As global warming intensifies and severe weather becomes increasingly frequent, it will become more and more difficult for California’s aging schools to maintain conditions that are safe, healthy and conducive to learning.”

And yet schools are the places where young people spend the majority of their days, the report Climate-Resilient California Schools: A Call to Action observes. Its climate action plan makes 14 recommendations. They include:

  • Adopt sustainable construction practices.
  • Power schools with solar technology and battery storage.
  • Electrify building energy systems to transition away from fossil fuel dependence.
  • Upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to electric heat pumps.
  • Improve the efficiency of water use.
  • Create green schoolyards that increase shade and reduce the presence of asphalt.

Other groups in the coalition include the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research and the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools and Ten Strands, which strengthens strategies on TK-12 environmental literacy.

That first installment of the plan could come about in 2024 if the Legislature approves and voters pass a TK-12 school construction bond that incorporates elements in the report. Matching state money for local district renovations and new construction from the last bond, passed in 2016, has run out of funding.

John Fensterwald

Thursday, March 2, 2023, 11:04 am

Link copied.Minority males benefit from having a consistent academic coach, study finds

Full-time students who had the same academic coach during their time at community college were 10% more likely to complete their studies, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The three-year study involved 11 North Carolina community colleges and found that technology-enabled academic success coaching closed equity gaps. The study by Watermark Insights found that minority male students fared better by having the same success coach over four terms.

“Retention goes up, graduation rates go up, all those negative academic metrics decrease and we make improvements to students moving forward,” John J. Evans, associate director of student life for N.C. Community Colleges told Inside Higher Ed about the findings.

EdSource staff

Thursday, March 2, 2023, 10:48 am

Link copied.High school junior in Sonoma County stabbed to death in fight in art class

A 15-year-old student at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa allegedly stabbed another student to death Wednesday morning, during a fight that broke out in an art class, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.

Police identified the victim as Jayden Jess Pienta, 16, of Santa Rosa, the newspaper reported. The 15-year-old, who has not been publicly identified, fled the school and was taken into custody about a mile away without incident.

“This is truly a sad day,” Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Anna Trunnell said at a news conference Wednesday.

According to an account of the incident police provided to the newspaper, the fight started at 11:11 a.m. when Pienta and another student, both juniors, began fighting with the 15-year-old. Twenty-seven other students were present.

A teacher and three staff members rushed to stop the fight. Moments later, the fight resumed and the freshman retaliated, pulling out a folding knife with a 4- to 5-inch blade, police told the newspaper.

The 15-year-old allegedly stabbed Pienta in the upper body three times. Pienta died after initially being treated on the campus and then taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, police said.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, March 2, 2023, 10:47 am

Link copied.UC Berkeley offers counseling to students and staff after man sets himself ablaze on campus

A man set himself on fire at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Wednesday, suffering critical burns, Berkeleyside reported. Two people who attempted to smother the flames suffered lesser burns.

UC police said it was not yet known whether the man is affiliated with the university, according to Berkeleyside. Police estimated the man is in his early 20s. He sustained second- and third-degree burns over much of his body and was taken to the trauma center at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

Stills taken from a video of the scene show a person spraying a fire extinguisher at the man as students in the plaza watch.

UCPD is asking people with information about the incident to call. The university shared counseling resources for students and staff with those who may have seen the incident or watched videos of it circulating online.

Thomas Peele

Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 8:54 am

Link copied.High costs, staffing shortages mean waitlists in after-school programs

Staffing shortages and rising costs have kept about a quarter of the nation’s operating after-school programs from returning to pre-pandemic capacity, according to a survey of the programs conducted for the AfterSchool Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization. About half of the nation’s afterschool programs have a waiting list.

Although 94% of the after-school programs that were open before the pandemic have reopended, almost all of the providers are concerned about the ability to hire and retain staff.

After-school programs provide academic enrichment, time for students to interact with peers and build social skills, opportunities for physical activity, time to develop life skills and a chance to talk with peers or staff members.

“After-school programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, give working parents peace of mind, and help students recover from the isolation and trauma the pandemic caused,” said Jodi Grant, Afterschool Alliance executive director. “Ensuring that all students can attend should be a priority for lawmakers and educators because these programs are essential to students’ recovery and to their success in school and in life.”

Grant said that only 19% of the after-school programs surveyed have been able to access Covid-relief funds.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 2:23 pm

Link copied.Los Angeles teachers union reelects Cecily Myart-Cruz as president amid negotiations

Cecily Myart-Cruz will serve a second three-year term as president of United Teachers Los Angeles after garnering three-fourths of the membership vote in a recent election. Her reelection at the powerful union comes as UTLA pressures the Los Angeles Unified district in contract negotiations for raises, smaller class sizes and more academic and mental health support for students. 

Myart-Cruz, a former elementary and middle school teacher, will continue to lead the union’s 35,000 teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses during disputes with the district over its use of funds and its response to the pandemic’s impact on teachers and students. To combat high inflation and cost of living, the union is pushing for a 20% raise over two years. UTLA has also positioned itself alongside community advocates pushing to defund the district’s police department and direct more support services toward Black students.

Myart-Cruz’s opponents, Leonard Segal and Greg Russell, are both substitute teachers within the district and followed behind her with 16.6% and 7.9% of the vote, respectively. Both say the union hasn’t been doing a good enough job of listening to its members.

UTLA’s strong influence delayed the return to in-person classes after the pandemic pushed classes online. In October, pressure from the union over LAUSD’s decision to extend the school year caused the district to change its plans. UTLA filed a complaint and threatened to boycott, arguing the district did not bargain with its labor unions.

LAUSD also is currently in negotiations with SEIU Local 99, which represents nearly 30,000 custodians, special education assistants and other essential employees. The workers union has declared an impasse and voted to authorize a strike if it does not reach an agreement with the district.

Election results still need to be certified by the UTLA board.

Kate Sequeira

Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 12:27 pm

Link copied.New bills would raise pay for child care providers and lower family fees

The child care industry has long been beleaguered. Many families can’t afford the care they need while many providers subsist on poverty wages. Amid the crisis, two new bills in the California Legislature would raise pay for child care providers and lower family fees for subsidized care.

Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-Colton, have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 380 and Assembly Bill 596, that would raise provider pay by about 25% as well as lower family costs,  the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.  

“We are at a crisis point in our child care system. Childcare employment rates have long struggled to meet the need for California families,” said Limón in a news release. “Providers have been underpaid, undervalued, and overutilized. It is past time that we pay child care workers what they are worth.” 

Family fees are currently being waived by the state as part of pandemic relief, but they are set to return on July 1. Details on how the proposed legislation would be implemented have yet to be hammered out. 

“With prices skyrocketing, families cannot afford another bill,” Reyes said in the news release.  “It is critical that we fight to ensure better access to affordable child care for working families. We must also ensure that child care providers receive a dignified wage that allows them to keep their doors open to serve more families.”


Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 11:03 am

Link copied.Michelle Herczog honored for her achievements in social studies

Michelle Herczog

Michelle Herczog, history-social science coordinator at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, is this year’s recipient of the Hilda Taba Award, the highest honor given by the California Council for the Social Studies.

The award is given to someone who has made a professional contribution to social studies education in California and significantly influenced the field over time. Herczog directs the California Democracy School Initiative and provides instructional support for educators across the state. She received the honor Saturday at the council’s annual conference in Santa Clara. 

Among her contributions is helping to establish the California Seal of Civic Engagement, which students receive for academic excellence and work on a project of civic achievement.

Herczog has served on the Social Studies Committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers, California Instructional Quality Commission and the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. She currently serves on the California chief justice’s Power of Democracy Steering Committee.

Describing her work on the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, Rob Vicario, president of the California Council for the Social Studies, said, “Alongside scholars, justices and superintendents, Michelle was a powerhouse: well-informed, diplomatic, authentic, and ultimately, well-respected and liked. She stood out in that blue ribbon group as a competent and passionate voice for students and educators.”

“There are not enough superlatives to describe the work that Michelle has done and continues to do for social studies education in California and the nation,” wrote Jim Charkins, director of the Center for Economics Education at CSU San Bernardino, in nominating her for the award. 

John Fensterwald

Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 10:56 am

Link copied.Conservative Supreme Court justices question Biden’s loan forgiveness plan

Developing story: Check back for updates

Conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested that the Biden administration overstepped its authority in canceling about $400 billion student debt. That was evident in oral arguments in two cases challenging the controversial forgiveness policy.

The White House contends that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 gives the secretary of education the ability to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision,” including the partial debt forgiveness. But justices in the conservative majority expressed skepticism.

“We’re talking about half a trillion dollars and 43 million Americans,” Chief Justice John  Roberts said. “How does that fit under the normal understanding of modifying?”

In contrast, one of the court’s liberal justices, Elena Kagan, said the language in the HEROES Act is clear in giving the administration the ability to waive the debts. “Congress doesnt get much clearer than that,” Kagan said. “We deal with congressional statutes every day that are really confusing. This one is not.”

In the case that has gripped the worlds of higher education and politics, the Biden administration also argued that the plaintiffs seeking to stop the debt cancellation don’t have the legal standing to sue. The plaintiffs include six Republican-led states and two individuals.

Another conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, also said that the debt cancellation usurps congressional power, describing it as a grant of $400 billion and it runs into Congress’s appropriations authority.”

But Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the Biden administration, pointed out that implementing the loan forgiveness doesn’t require any money to be withdrawn from the Treasury.

Under Biden’s debt forgiveness proposal, about 3.5 million Californians could have loans forgiven, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Michael Burke

Monday, February 27, 2023, 10:26 am

Link copied.Newsom says law ‘needs to change’ after UC Berkeley housing project blocked

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the California Environmental Quality Act “needs to change” after a court cited it while blocking UC Berkeley from building student housing at People’s Park.

In a ruling issued Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said UC Berkeley failed to consider alternative locations for the housing and didn’t “assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus.” The court said its decision doesn’t mean UC needs to abandon the project, instead suggesting UC return to the trial court and fix the errors in its environmental impact report.

UC Berkeley has vowed to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. The housing was initially proposed in 2018 and would provide about 1,100 beds, but has been repeatedly delayed by lawsuits that cite CEQA.

Newsom said in a statement that the CEQA process “is clearly broken” and vowed to work with lawmakers to change the law.

“California cannot afford to be held hostage by NIMBYs who weaponize CEQA to block student and affordable housing. The selfish mindset is driving up housing prices and making our state less affordable. The law needs to change, and I am committed to working with lawmakers this year to making more changes so our state can build the housing we desperately need,” he said.

Michael Burke

Monday, February 27, 2023, 10:12 am

Link copied.Thurmond sets up hotline to report schools with unfair discipline practices

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has set up a tipline to report schools that disproportionally discipline students of color or with disabilities, or that disguise expulsion by transferring students to other schools.

The tipline was set up after there were reports that some districts have either involuntarily transferred students or encouraged parents to voluntarily transfer their students to other schools to avoid reporting expulsions, according to the California Department of Education.

The department also plans to offer guidance to school districts about how to more fairly mete out discipline and will offer a second round of community schools grants and implicit bias grants to help reduce disproportionate discipline.

“We have to educate our kids — not incarcerate them — and provide them with opportunities for learning and to succeed,” Thurmond said. “Taking students out of learning time through suspensions and expulsions is proven to push them toward the criminal justice system. School districts trying to hide actual discipline rates through practices such as masking expulsions as transfers will not be tolerated.”

The hotline number is (916) 445-4624 or email

Diana Lambert

Friday, February 24, 2023, 9:18 pm

Link copied.University of California applications down slightly for fall 2023

Freshman applications for fall admission to the University of California were down slightly compared to last year, thanks mostly to drops among international and out-of-state students, according to UC data released Friday.

Transfer applications from California community college students were also down, but declined less severely than they did last year.

UC received applications from a total of 206,405 prospective freshmen — down about 2% from a year ago. The drop was driven by 1,976 fewer applications from international students and 2,258 fewer applications from students in states outside of California. Applications from California residents essentially stayed flat: 132,226 applied, or 111 fewer than sought admission for fall 2022.

Those Californians could have a better chance than in years past of being admitted. UC this year is expected under an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers to increase the share of California resident undergraduates who are enrolled at UC.

UC also saw a 2% drop among transfer applicants from California’s community colleges. But that was a stabilization compared to a year ago, when those applications were down by almost 11%.

“The University of California received an impressive number of applications for admission from prospective students this year. This is a testament to the University’s continued reputation as a premier center of higher learning,” UC President Michael Drake said.

Michael Burke

Friday, February 24, 2023, 10:55 am

Link copied.Book ban controversy reaches San Ramon Valley Unified

Parents and community members clashed at the San Ramon Valley Unified board meeting Tuesday over what books should be available for students in district schools. The literature controversy pulls the district into an issue affecting districts nationwide as community members push for schools to ban books they do not find favorable.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, several speakers during the board meeting referenced “Gender Queer,” which many called “pornographic.” The graphic novel has been targeted in the movement to ban books, which has significantly targeted LGBTQ-related books, according to free-speech organization PEN America. The book is not required reading but community members who spoke up against it did not like that it was available at district schools.

Students who spoke up at the meeting, spoke against removing books from their libraries, questioning the anger from those who were in favor. Librarians took a similar side, outlining the review process each book goes through.

Kate Sequeira

Friday, February 24, 2023, 10:40 am

Link copied.2,000 assessment records breached in LAUSD cyber attack

About 2,000 assessment records were breached during the September cyber attack on Los Angeles Unified, affecting at least 60 currently enrolled students, the district is now disclosing. Compromised records have primarily affected former district students and include some drivers license numbers and social security numbers.

The new information comes after education news site The 74 revealed that hundreds if not thousands of sensitive mental health records for former district students were posted to the dark web containing details about education services, medical histories and disciplinary records.

It is not clear how many affected students have been notified of the breach. LAUSD, which addressed the situation in a statement attributed to IT infrastructure senior administrator Jack Kelanic, wrote that the district has notified some individuals and vendors who have been impacted by this attack and will continue to do so as determined.

“This is an ongoing investigation in partnership with forensic and cybersecurity experts where arduous, painstaking efforts are taking place to comb through the data, review individual pieces, determine what information was accessed, locate the impacted individuals and notify them of resources to protect themselves,” the statement read. “The aftermath of a cyberattack is a multi-layered, dynamic process in which real-time updates often alter the direction of an investigation.”

The cyber attack on LAUSD initially surfaced over Labor Day weekend but is thought to have started July 31. The district refused to pay ransom, which resulted in the release of 500 gigabytes of data on the dark web, including vendor information, though district officials indicated that the impact was not widespread. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho initially said no psychological evaluations were included in the data leak.

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 10:53 am

Link copied.Tainted water persists in American schools, report shows

Many American public schools don’t have safe water for students to drink, USA Today reports.

Despite a flurry of testing, policy changes, and the movement to replace water infrastructure in recent years, many children are still exposed to lead at school, according to a new report, “Get the Lead Out,” published Thursday. 

Even a little lead exposure, such as from school water fountains, can harm health, impacting the brain and nervous system. Studies connect elevated lead levels to lower IQ and decreased focus as well as violent crime and delinquency. This threat is affecting students just as they struggle to recover from school closures in particular and the pandemic in general.

“We have known for some time that high levels of lead can cause severe health impacts — including anemia, kidney disease, abnormal brain function and even death,” the report says, USA Today reports.“Even tiny amounts of this toxic substance can harm our children.”

The report’s authors, John Rumpler and Matt Casale from the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, urge state and federal policymakers to address lead exposure at school. Not only are the findings grim, but they are both well-established and long-reported. This is the third report since 2017 that has found such problems exist, USA Today reports.

Karen D'Souza

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 10:47 am

Link copied.East Bay teacher accused of teaching antisemitic conspiracy theories

An East Bay high school teacher is on leave after students complained that he performed a Nazi salute, taught antisemitic conspiracy theories and that Adolf Hitler was not a bad person.

Students and teachers at a school board meeting complained that Mt. Eden High School English teacher Henry Bens remained in his classroom for two months, despite complaints. During this time, students were given “a master class in antisemitism,” Teresa Drenick, deputy regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

About 100 sophomore students are enrolled in Bens’ course. Students read Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, “Night,” a text required by Hayward Unified School District. But students told The Jewish News of Northern California that Bens also handed out a pamphlet called “The Hidden Tyranny,” subtitled “the Satanic Power which Promotes and Directs Chaos in Order to Lay Low All Civilization in Preparation for a Well-Outlined Plan for World Dictatorship.” It claims to expose a Jewish conspiracy to manipulate the media with the goal of world domination.

“This is something that was written as hate speech, and it continues to be hate speech,” fellow English teacher Heather Eastwood told The Jewish News.

Teachers said they’re frustrated with the lack of response from the administration. History chair Annie Mladinich said they’re concerned about the students who said they now believe in the antisemitic lessons they were taught. She and her colleagues plan to create a lesson plan on antisemitism.

Emma Gallegos

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 10:01 am

Link copied.Long Beach Unified hit by cyberattack

Long Beach Unified was hit by a cyberattack, school officials confirmed on Wednesday.

“Our school district recently learned about an incident in which an individual gained access to a list containing student identification numbers, names and their corresponding LBUSD-provided email addresses,” the district wrote to parents and students in an email obtained by the Press-Telegram.

The district first learned about the cyberattack Tuesday evening. It stated that more sensitive student and staff information, such as addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and grades were not affected. It’s not clear how many in the school district of 67,500 were affected by the attack.

Brett Callow, a threat analyst for Emisoft, first noted the attack. He told the Press-Telegram that this attack appears to be less severe than the recent attack in L.A. Unified. Officials with LAUSD said that 2,000 students were affected in the breach whose contents include Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. The 74 reported that medical histories, disciplinary records and other sensitive academic information was included in the LAUSD breach.

Emma Gallegos

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 1:16 pm

Link copied.Tulare County will use federal money to bolster mental health services in schools

Over the next five years, millions of dollars in federal money will be delivered to fourteen high-needs California school districts or offices of education, in hopes they will boost the number of mental health professionals to help students. That is especially needed in rural areas, officials say. 

One of those funded projects is in Tulare County, which sits in the southeastern Central Valley with a population of nearly half a million people. The $2.9 million for Tulare County will go toward hiring and retaining mental health professionals, according to Marvin Lopez, the executive director of the California Center on Teaching Careers, which is housed in the Tulare County Office of Education. 

The money comes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed in 2022. 

Lopez said the pilot project began in 2019 and saw success in placing in Tulare County schools over 30 graduates from partner colleges such as CSU Fresno, Bakersfield and San Bernardino, and Boise State, Grand Canyon University and UMass Global. The funding will go toward financial incentives for retaining the future counselors, therapists and social workers who complete their clinical training at the schools. 

But Lopez said one of the findings during the pilot program was that retention was difficult. “Oftentimes, they might go and get employment at a clinic instead of getting employment with the school district,” he said. 

The project will give interns a living stipend of $20,000 for the full year of clinical training, then a $5,000 bonus every year for the first three years they are employed at a Tulare County school. The school will also receive a financial incentive “to help offset the cost of hiring project graduates for the first three years,” Lopez said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last year announced a similar goal to boost the number of mental health professionals in schools, aiming to create incentives and pipelines for students to train. 

Youth mental health issues were already of concern before 2020, but studies have found that the pandemic caused a mental health crisis, especially among teens. 

Other high-needs schools in California that will receive grants are: Northern Humboldt Union High School District, Eureka City Schools, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Madera Unified School District, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District, Riverside County Office of Education, Conejo Valley Unified School District, Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School, Ukiah Unified School District, Lemon Grove School District, La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, and the Imperial County Office of Education.

“A well-staffed school with high-quality teachers and robust staff of mental health professionals is the goal we’re working towards to ensure every California student has a strong educational experience where their needs are met,” Lopez said.

Ashleigh Panoo

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 8:12 am

Link copied.Bill would ensure all California students have access to computer science classes

Legislation that would ensure all high school students have access to computer science courses was introduced last week by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park.

“From Silicon Valley to Biotech Beach, California is the undisputed cradle of innovation. People move here from all across the globe with bold ideas and big dreams of changing the world,” Berman said. “But the reality is that far too many California students grow up in the shadows of these tech companies, yet go to schools that don’t even offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they need to one day work there.”

A quarter of California students do not have access to computer science instruction, according to a press release from the assemblyman’s office. Students who attend schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students and Black, Latinx and Native American students are less likely to have computer science classes than other students in the state.

Twenty-seven other states require schools to offer computer science instruction, according to the release.

Ensuring all California students have access to computer science instruction would help close the gender and diversity gap in tech fields, and help train the future workforce needed for the state to remain competitive with other states and countries, Berman said.

“AB 1054 will begin to restore California as a leader, and will equip our students with the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s digitally driven world,” Berman said.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 8:11 am

Link copied.Grant available to help more students earn State Seal of Civic Engagement

California school districts can apply for up to $500,000 to increase the number of high students earning the State Seal of Civic Engagement.

The state has budgeted $5 million for the California Serves Program, which requires districts earning a grant to combine service learning and civic instruction in their programs.

The seal, which is affixed to student transcripts, diplomas and certificates of completion, indicates that the graduate understands the principles of democracy, the United States Constitution and the California Constitution. The student also must have a thorough knowledge of civics education, which includes service learning opportunities as a volunteer in the community.

The funds can be used for paid planning time for teachers, professional development for teachers and administrators, the purchase of instructional materials, personnel costs for coordinating service learning opportunities, and travel and other costs associated with service learning.

Applicants must submit an application to the California Department of Education by 4 p.m. March 10.


Diana Lambert

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 6:35 pm

Link copied.Ed Trust-West calls for more state funding to help Black students

Black students need more from Gov. Newsom’s latest proposal to close California’s achievement gap, said Ed Trust–West, a nonprofit that advocates for justice in education.

The group’s analysis praised the governor’s budget proposal that will send an additional $300 million annually to the state’s poorest schools and revamp the state’s accountability system to target racial disparities statewide. But Ed Trust–West said that more could be done to target Black student success.

“We’re encouraged that the governor’s proposal sends more money to schools with high concentrations of poverty and uplifts accountability changes that focus on closing equity gaps for marginalized students,” according to the Ed Trust–West report. “However, much more can be done to center Black students in these solutions.”

The Ed Trust–West analysis estimates that about 6% of all California students and 7% of Black students in the state attend the schools that would receive $300 million set aside under the proposal the governor calls an “equity multiplier.” It found that it would increase funding for students in these schools by an estimated $887 per student.

This mirrors an EdSource analysis showing that the equity multiplier schools would serve only 6.6% of California’s Black students. The Newsom administration and the Black Legislative Caucus said that equity multiplier schools would reach nearly 10% of the state’s 299,000 Black students.

The report outlined four recommendations for targeting Black student success in California through the state’s formula for funding schools, the process for holding them accountable and the support schools receive from the state to improve.

It urges a more targeted approach to improvement and accountability, given that the last decade under the Local Control Funding Formula has witnessed only “marginal” increases for Black students, followed by a steep decline in the wake of the pandemic.

“Year after year, students, parents, community members, and advocates have demanded that California address Black students’ needs. Now is the time to finally take bold and effective action,” said the report.

As a group, Black students trail every other race or ethnicity on measures of academic achievement, including performance on state tests and graduation rates. However, unlike other groups, such as English learners and low-income students, school districts do not receive any extra funding to address Black students’ specific needs. Ed Trust–West recommends the Local Control Funding Formula be adjusted to directly address California’s yawning and persistent racial achievement gap. The governor’s proposal directs school districts to use the yearly state funding to help all student groups improve academic achievement.

A bill that would directly fund the lowest-performing racial or ethnic group, AB 2774, was written by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, D-La Mesa, and then pulled during the last session. The governor’s advisers warned it could go up against Proposition 209, California’s ban on affirmative action.

Ed Trust–West said it recognizes the limitations proposed by the measure and other laws such as Proposition 209. The nonprofit added:  “We also acknowledge that legality in the United States has often masked what is right or just.”

Ed Trust–West also made a series of recommendations to improve the accountability and support systems for school districts as they create and implement their Local Control Accountability Plans. This includes requiring Black students and families to be at the table during the LCAP process, and also requiring that districts’ goals and actions targeting Black students be “grounded in research.”

Ed Trust–West recommends that the  California Department of Education and the California Collaborative for Education Excellence become a hub of state expertise for supporting Black students, such as those outlined by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Emma Gallegos

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 11:11 am

Link copied.Bill would require universal screening for dyslexia

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D–Burbank, has introduced legislation that would require California schools serving students in grades kindergarten through second grade to screen students for dyslexia.

Senate Bill 691 would mandate those screenings annually, unless parents or guardians opt to not have their children screened.

“Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and yet it often goes undetected,” Portantino said in a statement. “Early identification and intervention with evidence-based strategies is key to helping children read and vital to their academic success. By screening all students for dyslexia early, we can help families and teachers achieve the best learning and life outcomes for all students, close academic achievement gaps, and help end the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Michael Burke

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 9:15 am

Link copied.Bill would require CSU to give workers full semester of parental leave

Newly introduced legislation would require the California State University to provide employees with a full semester of parental leave following the birth, adoption or fostering a child.

The bill, Assembly Bill 1123, was introduced by Assemblymember Dawn Addis, D-Morro Bay. “CSU faculty and employees play a critical role in our state by educating and supporting California’s future,” Addis said in a statement. “Ensuring that they have the right to paid parental leave is long overdue. AB 1123 affirms and solidifies California’s commitment to supporting parents and the well-being of families.”

Frances Mercer, an associate professor at Cal Poly Pomona, said in a statement that a full semester of parental leave is essential for “career support and retention of the CSU’s diverse faculty, especially women.”


Michael Burke

Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 9:15 am

Link copied.California lawmaker introduces bill to require all-gender restrooms in schools

State Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, has introduced legislation that would require all K-12 schools in California to provide students with access to all-gender restrooms during school hours.

California’s schools are currently required to give students access to restrooms consistent with their gender, but are not explicitly required to have gender-neutral restrooms, according to Newman’s office. His bill, SB 760, would change that. The bill does not require schools to get rid of traditional gender-segregated bathrooms, but it does mandate that they have at least one gender-neutral bathroom.

“Schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, one where they’re able to focus on learning and where they’re encouraged to thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” Newman, who also chairs the Senate Education Committee, said in a statement. “Let’s face it — at some point during a typical 8-hour school day, everyone is going to have to go. By requiring all California K-12 schools to provide gender-inclusive restroom facilities on campus, we’ll ensure the well-being of our LGBTQ+ and non-binary students and ensure safer school communities for everyone.”

Among the bills sponsors is State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who said in a statement that the legislation would help California “lead the nation by providing adequate access to gender-inclusive bathrooms on all campuses.”

Michael Burke

Friday, February 17, 2023, 10:59 am

Link copied.Berkeley removes name from fifth campus building for racist past

UC Berkeley removed the name of a founder and white supremacist from a campus building Tuesday, the fifth to be removed from its buildings since 2020. Moses Hall, which was named after Bernard Moses, a university professor who set up the science and history departments but also had racist ideals, is now known as Philosophy Hall.

Moses, who died in 1965, wrote in favor of lynching Black people and believed nonwhite races were inferior. He joins the likes of other slaveholders, eugenicists and racist individuals whose legacies are no longer displayed on the campus. 

These decisions for removal have been led by UC Berkeley’s Building Name Review Committee, which requires well-documented evidence to move forward with a proposal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. So far, consensus has been unanimous for the individuals who have been identified and removed from buildings. 

According to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle, there is still much left to be done: The university still has a Moses parking lot and Moses lecture series. The university also plans to post plaques to unnamed buildings, sharing their history so as to not completely erase the past. However, that has yet to be completed for all of them.

Kate Sequeira

Friday, February 17, 2023, 10:58 am

Link copied.Tension high after San Diego County school district hires ex-board member’s consulting firm

The Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating a contract Cajon Valley Union School District has with the consulting firm of the former school board president that was awarded after she lost her run for reelection. The contract secured Tamara Otero’s firm a $60,000 no-bid, half-year contract, paying her significantly more than she earned as a board member, and the move has left parents and district employees concerned.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Otero filed paperwork to create her consulting firm, Alfabet Soup LLC, Dec. 9. Some board members said they didn’t know that Alfabet Soup belonged to Otero. The board has now approved a new contract with the firm for a lower amount of money, $50,400, after calling a special board meeting in January. 

This is not the first time the San Diego County district has dealt with issues involving Otero and its contracted companies. In 2019, the Cajon Valley school board awarded a $655,000 contract to her son’s construction company. According to the Union-Tribune, Otero abstained from the vote but did not disclose her son’s involvement.

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, February 16, 2023, 10:59 am

Link copied.Proposed law calls for high school football championship games to be played at neutral sites

A bill introduced by a state lawmaker would require that high school football championship games be played at neutral sites after leaders from rural schools complained that playing at the home fields of larger schools can put them at a disadvantage, KGET television reported.

Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, introduced  SB-486 on Tuesday. The bill’s aim is to ensure rural schools are treated equally when it comes to host sites for California Interscholastic Federation football championship games.

“Games need to be played on an equal footing and not relegate rural and small schools to unequal treatment,” Hurtado tweeted about the bill, KGET reported.

The bill was written after the coach of Shafter High School complained last year about unfair playing conditions at a championship game played on the home field of a larger school.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, February 16, 2023, 10:28 am

Link copied.Excessive screen time in infancy may impede later academic success, study suggests

Amid the spike in screen time fueled by the pandemic, a new study found that letting babies watch tablets and TV may impair their academic achievement as well as emotional well-being later on in childhood.

Researchers found that increased use of screen time during infancy was associated with poorer executive functioning once the child was 9 years old, according to the study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, as CNN reported.

Executive functioning skills are mental processes that “enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully,” according to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child.

Executive functioning skills are key to higher-level cognition, including emotional regulation, learning, academic achievement and mental health, according to the study. They influence our success socially, academically and professionally, said Dr. Erika Chiappini, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“Though these cognitive processes naturally develop from infancy through adulthood, they are also impacted by the experiences that we have and when we have them in our development,” said Chiappini in an email, as CNN cited.

The parents in the study reported each child’s screen time, and researchers found there was an association between screen time in infancy and attention and executive function at 9 years old. 

More research needs to be done, experts say, to determine if screen time caused the impairments in executive function or if there are other factors in the child’s environment that predispose them to both more screen time and poorer executive functioning, the study noted.

The data tracks with cautionary recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which discourages all screen time before 18 months old, said Dr. Joyce Harrison, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 10:56 am

Link copied.Audit uncovers potential fiscal malfeasance at Stockton Unified; district attorney notified

A state audit of Stockton Unified finances has revealed evidence of potential fraud, misappropriation of funds and illegal fiscal practices, San Joaquin County Superintendent Troy Brown told the district’s board at a meeting Tuesday, according to The Stockton Record.

A report from the state’s Fiscal Crisis Management Team released that day details potentially illegal financial activities, including allegedly ignoring board policies to award a $7 million contract for air filters, according to The Stockton Record. The agency spent nearly a year working on the report.

The report found that 96% of the district’s business transactions between 2019 and 2022 had no documents showing there had been competitive bidding; 94% did not have a fully executed contract or formal board approval; almost 51% had no purchase order; 11% had payments not supported by an original invoice; and more than 9% showed an invoice dated before the purchase order or approval date.

Brown referred the report to State Controller Malia Brown, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas, according to The Record.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 10:35 am

Link copied.Cabrillo College looks to build housing for community college and UC students

Cabrillo College is seeking to build dorms and apartments that would house more than 600 students, including some UC Santa Cruz students, Santa Cruz Local reported.

The community college in Santa Cruz County submitted a $181.7 million proposal to the state for the project, the news site reported. The proposal comes as the state deals with a dire housing crisis that is particularly bad in Santa Cruz, where rent is expensive and little housing is available.

The project would include 383 beds for Cabrillo students and another 241 beds for UC Santa Cruz students.

“We know from studies that students who live in residence halls are more likely to finish on time because they’re full-time students and they’re committed to their course of study,” Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein told the news outlet.

Michael Burke

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 9:57 am

Link copied.CSU Dominguez Hills wins federal grant to diversify teacher workforce

California State University Dominguez Hills has been awarded almost $1.6 million as part of a U.S. Department of Education program to increase the number of high-quality teacher preparation programs for teachers of color, strengthen the diversity of the teacher pipeline and address the teacher shortage.

The university was one of 12 nationwide to share $18.7 million in awards as part of the new Augustus F. Hawkins Centers for Excellence Program.

The program was created in 2008, but this is the first year it has been funded, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The grants support teacher preparation programs at universities that serve minority populations, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.

“Today, more than half of our learners nationwide are students of color, and yet fewer than 1 in 5 educators come from communities of color,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I’ll never forget the impact that my first teacher of color had on me as a student, and my experience tracks closely with years of research suggesting the profound, positive influence that educators of color have on students of all backgrounds.”

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 9:24 am

Link copied.Civil rights lawsuit filed against El Dorado High School District

Ashley Lewis, a Placerville mother, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against El Dorado Unified High School District, alleging that district and high school administrators failed to protect her daughter from racially motivated verbal and physical attacks, and ignored her pleas for help, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Lewis told the Bee that her daughter, who is Black, had been subjected to racial taunts and harassment since first grade. The harassment became more physical when she began attending El Dorado High School, according to the lawsuit. The girl, who is now 16, has been beaten, touched, had her hair pulled and called names, according to the lawsuit. The girl, who was not named in the lawsuit, has since changed schools. 

The lawsuit alleges discrimination, sexual harassment and negligent supervision of students and seeks punitive, general and medical damages. 

District officials denied the allegations in a statement to the Sacramento Bee, but declined further comment.


EdSource staff

Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 4:13 pm

Link copied.Chico State biology professor sues estranged wife, colleague over their claims he made gun threats

Suspended Chico State biology professor David Stachura on Monday filed a libel lawsuit against his estranged wife and a biology lecturer in Butte County Superior Court, claiming they each fabricated claims that he spoke with them about shooting colleagues.

The suit comes days after a Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order sought by the California State University system against Stachura on behalf of three Chico State academics, including the lecturer named in the new lawsuit, Betsey Tamietti. The suit also names Stachura’s estranged wife, Miranda King, as a defendant. A hearing on the university’s request for a restraining order is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Stachura was suspended indefinitely after EdSource reported in December that he allegedly threatened to kill two colleagues who cooperated in an investigation that found he had a prohibited sexual affair with a graduate student he supervised in violation of CSU policy. He denied the affair. When the matter became public, it roiled the campus of 13,000, with faculty and students blasting the university’s decision to keep the security threat secret. Provost Debra Larson, who approved light punishment of Stachura for the affair, resigned. Students and faculty have demanded increased security and other changes.

In the newly filed suit, Stachura’s lawyer, Kasra Parsad, claims King gave a false declaration in 2021 when she asked the court for a restraining order against Stachura. The couple is locked in ongoing divorce and child custody cases.  She did that, Parsad wrote, to gain leverage in the child-custody dispute.

“For the next year, Stachura lived with constant shame and ridicule. King’s false statements caused him to be ostracized by his colleagues and overshadowed his life work,” Parsad wrote. King did not return a message Tuesday. King told EdSource earlier this month she had received a letter from Parsad telling her she would be sued if she didn’t retract the statement in her declaration. She told EdSource she had told the truth and would not back down.

The suit also claims Tamietti made false statements at a Dec. 12 online campus forum when she said Stachura had talked to her about shooting people in the biology department and threatened her to remain silent. Parsad wrote that the statements were false and caused Stachura “a loss to his reputation” and brought him “shame, embarrassment (and) ridicule.”  In an email to EdSource on Tuesday, Tamietti’s attorney, Jean-Paul Jassy, of Los Angeles, wrote that “the suit is meritless.”

Court records show the suit was assigned to Judge Stephen E. Benson, with a case management conference scheduled for Aug. 2.

Michael Weber of the Chico Enterprise-Record contributed to this report.

Thomas Peele

Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 1:54 pm

Link copied.California Community Colleges board sets date to hire new chancellor

The next chancellor of California’s community college system will be appointed during a board of governors meeting on Feb. 23, according to an agenda item for the meeting.

A proposed employment agreement between the next chancellor and the board will be presented at the meeting, and the board will be asked to approve it. That contract won’t be publicly available until the day of the meeting, according to the item.

The top position for the system of 116 colleges opened when the former chancellor, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, departed last year to head the College Futures Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students earn college degrees.

The college system launched a national search last July for the next chancellor and a search committee considered applications from “well-qualified higher education executives” from California and across the country, according to the agenda. The board reviewed four finalist candidates on Jan. 26 and 27. Officials have declined to identify the finalists or the selected candidate.

Michael Burke