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Education must-reads: From uneven progress for CSU grad rates to layoffs in Oakland, 8 new things to know about California’s schools (and beyond)

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | February 6, 2019

Education Must-Reads is our daily roundup of the most interesting news articles and analysis surrounding students, schools and California education policy.  

California State University graduation rates show uneven progress, some backsliding

While the California State University has boasted about improved systemwide graduation rates, new statistics show a more troubling picture at many of CSU’s 23 campuses. Some campuses lag far behind in the expensive initiative to sharply improve graduation rates by 2025 and face what one high-ranking administrator called “a heavy lift” to get many more entering freshmen to finish within four years. For example, 11 campuses still graduated less than 20 percent of the students who entered as freshmen four years ago. In an unpleasant surprise, four campuses actually saw their four-year graduation rates decline a bit in 2018. And at 13 campuses, less than 60 percent of freshmen finished after six years. By Larry Gordon, EdSource

See if California has identified your school as low-performing, San Diego Union-Tribune

Oakland school district braces for up to 150 layoffs in administration, services, San Francisco Chronicle

Schools still await cannabis tax revenue that’s expected to fund youth education programsDesert Sun

LAUSD official offers modified, phased-in move to Wilmington for San Pedro police academy, Daily Breeze

Denver teacher strike to begin Monday after Gov. Jared Polis declines to intervene, Denver Post

As Chicago Faces Surge in Student Sexual Misconduct Reports, Advocates Warn the Problem Isn’t Unique to America’s 3rd Largest School System, The 74

Fewer AP classes, suspended more often: Black students still face racism in suburbs, USA Today

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See previous morning roundups below:


Gov. Newsom asks to review impact of California charter schools on district finances

In one fallout from the recently settled strike of teachers in Los Angeles, Gov. Gavin Newsom has called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to establish a panel of experts to examine the impact of charter school growth on district finances.

The panel will have four months to look at the issue, and to report back to Newsom by July 1. Thurmond has not yet announced who will be on the panel, but its formation raises the likelihood that California’s charter school laws may undergo revision over the coming year. This would be the first time there has been an in-depth look at the financial impact of charter schools since passage of California’s first charter law in 1992. The issue was a concern of Newsom’s even before the L.A. teachers  strike, said Newsom spokesperson Brian Ferguson.

“As Governor Newsom stated in his first budget proposal, rising charter school enrollments in some urban districts are having real impacts on those districts’ ability to provide essential support and services for their students,” he said. Under a 1998 state law, districts are not allowed to take into account the financial impact of a charter school on a district in deciding whether or not to grant them a charter. Charter advocates fear that removing this prohibition could have a dramatic impact on slowing charter school school expansion in the state. By Louis Freedberg and Mikhail Zinshteyn, EdSource

For the first time in 6 years, California names its lowest-performing schools. Is yours on the list?, Los Angeles Daily News

How to improve California’s education, housing affordability, San Francisco Chronicle

Gun violence in schools and college affordability highest priorities for California voters, poll finds, EdSource

With 2 Years Left in Congress, Senator Lamar Alexander Lays Out His Road Map for Reauthorizing America’s Higher Education Act, The 74

More LA County Foster Kids Are Making It Into College Than Ever Before, LAist

Repenning, Bajracharya, Ortiz Claim Top Three Fundraising Spots In LAUSD Board District 5 Race, Speak Up

Civil Rights Groups Urge States to Ensure ESSA Plans Help Vulnerable Children, Politics K-12

How Technology Can Become More Productively Integrated In Education, Forbes

OPINION: College athletics departments do a better job counseling students than career offices, Hechinger Report

What a difference a small class size made one day in one elementary school,  USA Today

States Increase Higher Education Funding By 3.7%, Forbes


How the story of Pacoima’s ‘little school that could’ became the political fault line of public education

Some folks call Dr. Yvonne Chan the ‘charter matriarch.’ At age 73, 26 years after she founded the first charter school in Los Angeles, her reign along a six-block stretch of the East San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Pacoima is palpable. Chan is the founding principal of an empire of schools teaching 3,187 students from pre-K through 12th grade, the first independent charter school in the city. These days, she goes by the title “Chief Visionary Officer,” but she’s rarely without a jangling lanyard of keys around her neck to unlock each of the five campuses at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center. Like other schools at the movement’s beginning, Vaughn was a charter forged by teachers and administrators hoping to better serve low-income students of color through managerial autonomy from the L.A. Unified School District behemoth and without representation from a teachers union. Vaughn’s success, a story of “the little school that could,” marks the beginning of an industry no one imagined would become so large and such a fault line in the national debate about education reform. Their proliferation became a focal point of the recent six-day walkout by more than 30,000 UTLA-represented teachers, as union leaders called public school “privatization” and “unregulated charter school growth” an existential crisis for traditional public schools. By ARIELLA PLACHTA, Los Angeles Daily News

Oakland teachers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike, EdSource

Where Do Families Who Support School Choice Go From Here?, Speak Up

Ex-Centinela Valley superintendent pushed through private retirement plan worth $294,000 to him, testimony reveals, Los Angeles Daily News

The 74 Interview: Parkland Teacher, Filmmaker Talk New HBO Documentary on the Shooting, Its Aftermath, and the Musical That ‘Must Go On,’ The 74

Five Things to Watch for in Trump’s State of the Union Speech, Education Week

Opinion: How California can help juveniles get back on track, Mercury News  


Chronic absenteeism in California schools up slightly, new data show

It is the most obvious and important contributor to student success and yet something many California school districts are not doing well: getting students to show up for school. More than 1 in 10 students statewide were chronically absent from school in 2017-18, meaning they missed at least 10 percent of the school year, according to recent data released by the California Department of Education. “The numbers are bad and getting slightly worse,” said Rob Manwaring, a senior education policy advisor for Children Now, a statewide child advocacy organization. He is referring to the fact that the statewide rate rose to 11.1 percent from 10.8 percent in 2016-17, the first year the state released the numbers. By David Washburn, EdSource

Michelle King, The First Black Woman To Lead LAUSD, Dies at 57, LAist

This list helps minority students find a college with a solid graduation rate, Los Angeles Times

Middle School Did Little to Stop Taunting of Autistic Boy, Lawsuit Alleges, NBC 4

Los Angeles Schools police officer charged with stealing $27,000 in alleged payroll scheme, Fox 11

L.A. teacher writes letter to his former struggling self: What he wishes he had known when he began, Washington Post

L.A. Unified may owe $13.6 billion for health care, and pensions and the strike made things worse; Obamacare is a way out, The 74

Sac City Unified schools downgraded to near rock-bottom bond ratings amid budget crisis, Sac Bee

San Francisco Public School Advocates Rally For $60M From Tax Windfall, CBS San Francisco

Exclusive: Student Data Needs Protecting, New Report Says. Hiring a Chief Privacy Officer Can Help Schools and Districts Do Just That, The 74

Governor’s $20 million Alaska education cut may be illegal, state senator says, Anchorage Daily News

New York Joins Movement to Abandon Use of Student Tests in Teacher Evaluations, New York Times

After a hate crime, a town welcomes immigrants into its schools, Hechinger Report

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