Not from 90210? Beverly Hills says, ‘Out’

The decision by Beverly Hills Unified School District to kick out many non-resident students, starting this fall, portends trouble for the state’s new open-enrollment law, allowing students in the state’s worst performing schools to transfer to better schools in other districts. Many of the state’s wealthiest districts may end up deciding to steer clear of the program.

The Beverly Hills board voted earlier this year to end its policy of enrolling elementary and eighth grade students from other districts under special circumstances. Current high school students can continue to attend district schools.

Continue reading “Not from 90210? Beverly Hills says, ‘Out’”

Steinberg bill remedies suit over layoffs

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has introduced a bill directly responding to issues raised in a February lawsuit challenging the large-scale layoffs of teachers at three Los Angeles Unified middle schools and in low-performing schools elsewhere in California. Passage of SB 1285 could go a long way toward settling a serious suit with uncommon speed.

The bill would explicitly give superintendents and schools boards the authority to override teacher seniority rules in order to prevent disproportionate layoffs at any school. A federal judge ruled last month that districts already have this power under state law; they just don’t use it.

Continue reading “Steinberg bill remedies suit over layoffs”

Learning algebra on the fly

The 20 sixth graders who are going to take pre-algebra summer school later this month discovered for themselves that solving algebraic equations in your head – specifically involving distance-rate-time variables – can mean the difference between life and death at 30,000 feet.

The students from the ACE Charter School in Alum Rock, a low-income neighborhood in San Jose, were at the helm last week of an FAA’s flight control simulator, guiding in planes on flight paths that put their sense of proportion to work.

Continue reading “Learning algebra on the fly”

Layoffs scaring off future teachers

Many of the 26,000 teachers in California who got pink slips in March may have their jobs back by August,  if their colleagues agree to furloughs or give-backs and if districts pass parcel taxes next month and come up with other savings. Los Angeles Unified alone  has rescinded two-thirds of the 3,100 layoff notices it issued two months ago.

But the damage to the teaching profession will last beyond the disruptions and uncertainty of the next few months. In a paper issued this week, the Santa Cruz-based Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning openly worries about the impact on the future supply of teachers that California will need over the next decade.

Continue reading “Layoffs scaring off future teachers”

Governor, State Board to ACLU: We’re on your side

The lawsuit against Los Angeles Unified and the state over seniority-based teacher layoffs and massive cuts to state education funding has taken some strange twists.

Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Board of Education ­– defendants in the case – are taking the position that they agree with the plaintiffs. Their message: Don’t sue us. We’re on the side of kids in low-income schools whose teachers have been handed pink slips in disproportionate numbers.

The latest jockeying ­ – unusual but not unprecedented – may be a sign that an initial settlement is near. A court hearing into a preliminary injunction has been pushed back a week, until Tuesday, at the request of plaintiffs attorneys, in order to conduct negotiations with the defendants.

Continue reading “Governor, State Board to ACLU: We’re on your side”

Cash-strapped districts shift their dollars

If triage is the new goal of K-12 education, then school districts can claim success.

A survey by the Legislative Analyst’s Office revealed that districts are cutting programs that the Legislature once considered essential in order to keep core classes going. Districts reported that the flexibility to spend “categorical” money as they choose helped them keep teachers on the job and make their budgets.

Impressed with the first year’s spending flexibility, the LAO is recommending lifting the restrictions on some of the remaining categorical programs, including class-size reduction, which the teachers’ unions will fight to preserve, and school transportation.

Continue reading “Cash-strapped districts shift their dollars”

Bill would end layoffs by seniority

Proposals that Gov. Schwarzenegger made during his budget speech in January to weaken teacher tenure and seniority rights have finally taken bill form.

Republican Sen. Bob Huff introduced SB 955 on the governor’s behalf last week. Its chief provisions would be to give local school boards, instead of the Commission on Professional Competence, final say over firing teachers, and to enable districts to lay off teachers based on a district’s subject needs and teacher effectiveness, instead of by seniority.

Continue reading “Bill would end layoffs by seniority”

Teachers surveyed agree: end ‘quality-blind’ layoffs

Civil rights attorneys aren’t the only ones opposed to a teacher layoff system based strictly on seniority. Teachers themselves apparently aren’t crazy about it either.

“A Smarter Teacher Layoff System” – a report this month by The New Teacher Project – included a survey of 9,000 teachers in two unnamed urban districts. Seventy percent of  teachers in one district and 77 percent of teachers in the other, including most of  tenured teachers, said that factors other than just seniority should be considered in a layoff.

In both districts, teachers rated classroom management, teacher attendance and instructional performance based on evaluations, as more important factors than the number of years that a teacher has taught in the district or total years of teaching.

Continue reading “Teachers surveyed agree: end ‘quality-blind’ layoffs”