In your spare time, articles worth reading

The Educated Guess recognizes that not everyone has the time to scour Rough&Tumble and a multitude education blogs and websites. Here are a few articles that I found interesting over the last week or so.

Why privatizing UC won’t work : Excellent column by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hilzik on the dangers of creeping privatization of the University of California and why UC must not follow the lead of the University of Michigan.

To relieve stress, schools in tough neighborhoods turn to yoga: Mercury News reporter Sharon Noguchi does a fascinating take on the use of yoga in two low-income, Latino high schools in East San Jose to teach stress reduction and self-control. Along with both schools’ freshman class, the Yerba Buena football team is doing it – the ultimate recommendation.

Continue reading “In your spare time, articles worth reading”

Vote set on Brownley’s bill; Romero’s “killed by silence”

Two competing bills shaping the state’s plan for Race to the Top money received positive votes in the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday. But only one will move forward to a full vote of the Assembly, set for today.

Education Committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley’s ABX5-8 was voted 10-6 and moved on. It would have been surprising if it didn’t. Continue reading “Vote set on Brownley’s bill; Romero’s “killed by silence””

Master plan still sound but under strain

At a legislative hearing today, the heads of California’s three college systems and other speakers agreed on a fundamental point: The state’s 50 year-old master plan for higher education remains fundamentally sound and largely intact but is under unprecedented strain.

It takes decades to create a great university system, but this achievement can be destroyed relatively quickly, as a result of competitiveness and lack of financial support, warned University of California President Mark Yudof.

Yudof cited the first signs of a “brain drain,” with other universities luring away professors facing furloughs, hiring freezes and larger classes. There is understandable angst and anger on campus among students who see higher fees and fewer course offerings. Continue reading “Master plan still sound but under strain”

Assembly bill to State: Keep hands off bulk of Race to the Top dollars

Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley may  be offering what it takes to pique school districts’ interest in the federal Race to the Top competition: a promise of more money.

Her bill, ABX5-8,  would require that at least 80 percent of dollars from the Race to the Top be reserved for school districts. That’s 30 percentage points more than the minimum of 50 percent that the federal regulations call for. That would mean a lot less money for the Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and the state Department of Education, which may have been  coveting a very green Obama Christmas. Continue reading “Assembly bill to State: Keep hands off bulk of Race to the Top dollars”

AB 5x-8 introduced

The office of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has introduced Assembly Democrats’ version of the Race to the Top bill. Here is the text of  ABX5-8.

The 73-page bill, sponsored by Education Committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley, would change state laws to conform with the requirements of Race to the Top, a $4.3 billion competitive federal program. It would:

  • Put in place the four  options for transforming persistently low-performing schools spelled out in Race to the Top regulations;
  • Lift the cap in charter schools in exchange for requiring annual financial audits of charters, as required of district schools, and limiting renewal of charters that are facing sanctions for low academic performance;
  • Set the stage for moving away from strict reliance on standardized tests (annual STAR tests) in exchange for adopting “high-quality” assessments. The state would use Race to the Top money to develop these. It would also take advantage of the new CALPADS student data base to develop longitudinal measurements of student performance.
  • Authorize Superintendent of Instruction Jack O’Connell and the State Board of Education to adopt national common-core standards for college and work readiness in math and language arts by September 2010. This is one of the requirements of Race to the Top.

The Education Committee received many recommendations for legislation during four hearings over the past two months. The resulting bill was strictly written to improve the state’s Race to the Top chances — not to enact  more sweeping reforms, as  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had sought.

Race to the Top criteria don’t help laggard California

With the firing of the starting pistol for applying to the federal Race to the Top competition, California’s odds of winning, already low because of a lack of direction and leadership, probably grew slimmer.

Race to the Top’s four pillars of reform haven’t changed. But the feds’ priorities, as outlined in a detailed rating system, have shifted to California’s disadvantage.

With the firing of the starting pistol for applying to the federal Race to the Top competition, California’s odds of winning, already low because of a lack of direction and leadership, probably grew slimmer.

Race to the Top’s four pillars of reform haven’t changed. But the feds’ priorities, as outlined in a detailed rating system, have shifted  to California’s disadvantage. And other states have already moved purposefully while California has spun its wheels for months. Continue reading “Race to the Top criteria don’t help laggard California”

Bleak outlook for applicants to CSU

Those seeking admission to the 23-campus California State University system can expect to be pay more and face tougher odds of getting. The system will cut 40,000 slots and will probably up fees 10 percent, Chancellor Charles Reed said.

The California State University system is about to send a harsh message to this year’s high school seniors and community college students  aspiring for a four-year degree. In spite of record applications, CSU will admit 7 percent fewer students next year to its 23 campuses, while likely raising tuition yet an additional 10 percent. And, seniors, don’t think about straying too far from the nest: Depending on your field of study, you may be limited to attending the CSU closest to your home.

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed gave the grim assessment at a press conference Tuesday. He made it clear that his recommendations pained him. “Denying students access to the California State University is just about the worst thing I can do during a recession. But we have to provide a quality higher education to students and we cannot educate more students with less.” Continue reading “Bleak outlook for applicants to CSU”

Privacy at risk in many states’ data bases

In looking around at other states’ longitudinal data bases, California should learn a lesson from what they’re not doing well enough: guaranteeing security and privacy of information.

Responding to yesterday’s post on an important data bill before the Legislature, a reader alerted me to a new study from the Fordham University Center on Law and Information Policy pointing out that states have done a poor job ensuring  the security of personal information in longitudinal student data bases.

The study examined protocols for all  states’ systems and concluded that the majority had  detailed information in what appeared to be non-anonymous student records. Many states didn’t have clear access and use rules, and  nearly all didn’t have policies to purge  the data over time. Continue reading “Privacy at risk in many states’ data bases”