education

Potential School District Reserve Cap Drives Debate Over Prop 2

Oct 9, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This November, California voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 2 – the constitutional amendment that would create a state budget reserve. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a little-known new law tied to Prop 2 has some school officials and parents upset.

Just two weeks after the start of the semester, the President of Fresno Pacific University has resigned.

In a statement released from the university, outgoing president Pete Menjares said that he and his wife will be moving back to Southern California to be closer to their families and to explore new opportunities.

In the same statement, Board Chair John Thiesen said that Menjares modeled diversity and unity in his two and a half years as university president. Menjares’ wife, Virginia, was also very active in the community and often made appearances with her husband.

Fresno State / Jacques Benninga

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled in a case called Vergara vs. California that California education statues related to teacher tenure violate the equal protection laws of students, essentially depriving students of effective teachers by failing to remove ineffective teachers from classrooms.  In this week’s edition of The Moral Is, Fresno State education professor Dr. Jacques Benninga explores the teacher evaluation controversy and its reasonable implications.

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Marshall Tuck

While school has been out for many kids since mid-May, this summer has been a busy time in the world of education. Big issues like teacher tenure and the new common core curriculum have kept education in the headlines across California.

This week on Valley Edition we talked about those issues and more with one of the men seeking to become California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marshall Tuck. He will face off against incumbent Tom Torlakson on the November ballot.

Interview highlights:

On charters vs. traditional public schools:

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Back in the late 1990's, California voters passed Proposition 227, which imposed strict restrictions on bilingual education in California's public school classrooms.

Supporters of the effort said English immersion was the best way for English learners to succeed and assimilate into society. Critics said by teaching core subjects only in English, non-English speakers were at a disadvantage in the classroom.

Diana Aguilera

Schools on the east side of Fresno County are already feeling the impact of California’s ongoing drought.

Education officials from the Kings Canyon Unified District say they have seen a significant drop in attendance this year.

 Superintendent Juan Garza says families have been forced to relocate, taking their school aged children with them.

Come August of next school year, there may be even less kids having fun on the playground. 

One of the latest political footballs in 2014 is in the world of education and specially the new curriculum that many states have adopted, including California. But beyond the concerns of those of some on the right that Common Core is a federal takeover of education, others are asking different questions. In this edition of Valley Public Radio's commentary series The Moral Is, Fresno State Education Professor  Jack Benninga says all the focus on learning process may leave some important gaps for our students. 

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New California Community College Scorecard Shows Affects of Recession

Apr 17, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new study says students at California’s Community Colleges are achieving many of their academic goals. But Community College officials say they’ll be recovering from the drastic cuts during the Great Recession for years to come. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

Paul Feist with the California Community Colleges says there’s a lot to like in the findings of the “Student Success Scorecard.”

California Bill Would Put English-only Instruction Back Before Voters

Apr 16, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A voter-approved  law that requires all California public school classes to be taught in English would go before voters again in 2016 under a bill now in the state legislature. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

Professor Patricia Gándara with the UCLA Civil Rights Project says a state-commissioned 2006 study proves that English-only instruction has few, if any, benefits.

Gándara: “The conclusion was that there had been no appreciable closing of the gaps between English learners and other students as a result of Prop. 227.” 

California Begins Testing New Student Assessments

Mar 27, 2014
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California is preparing to implement Common Core education standards. As part of that change, the state is replacing standardized tests with new “assessments” meant to better judge students’ knowledge. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state must first test the test.

In the media lab of an elementary school in Sacramento, fourth grader Aanyah Jacobs answers questions that pop up on a computer screen one at a time. She’s one of the more than three million California public school students testing out the state’s new assessment.

Twitter / Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman / https://twitter.com/AsmSusanEggman/

Go to a rural high school in Central California, and one of the most popular extra-curricular programs will be FFA – Future Farmers of America. But now the people who run those programs say their future is threatened in Governor Brown’s new budget.

It’s all part of a big change to the way school districts get their money from Sacramento – the Local Control Funding Formula. In general it’s been good news for schools up and down the valley, as it redirects more money to districts with high populations of low-income families, English learners and foster youth.

California Students Rally At Capitol For Agricultural Education Funding

Mar 19, 2014
Twitter / Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman / https://twitter.com/AsmSusanEggman/

As part of the annual “Ag Day” celebration at the state Capitol, Future Farmers of America students from around California rallied Wednesday in support of agricultural education programs. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

With the state suffering through its worst ever drought, Jim Aschwanden with the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, says only well trained Ag workers will be able to meet the industry’s future challenges.

Drought May Hurt School Attendance in Central Valley

Mar 18, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Declining school attendance may be the latest side-effect of California’s punishing drought. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction will visit the Central Valley Wednesday to talk about the problem.

School attendance may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the impact of the drought on California. But it is affected. Less water means fewer crops, which means fewer farm jobs. And when the jobs disappear, families of migrant workers move on, taking their school age children with them.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cities like Merced Fresno and Bakersfield all share one common thread, other than being major stops on Highway 99.

Lawmakers Seek to Address California's "Truancy Crisis"

Mar 11, 2014
Tom Torlakson's Office / https://www.facebook.com/torlakson

California lawmakers say the state is facing a truancy crisis among elementary school students. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a package of legislation introduced on Monday that’s meant to combat the problem.

Skipping school can mean a lot more for students than just failing a test. California Attorney General Kamala Harris says it can cause kids to fall behind and ultimately drop out of high school.

California Legislature to Tackle Teacher Retirement Fund Debt

Jan 29, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Some lawmakers say it’s time to get serious about paying down debt accrued by California's teachers’ retirement system. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that will take a big financial commitment.

Assembly Democrats say they’re ready to look for ways to pay down the unfunded liability of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The governor’s office puts the debt at more than $80 billion.

Speaker John Perez says the Assembly will begin hearings on the issue.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California State Board of Education will decide tomorrow how school districts can spend billions of dollars in state funding next year. From Sacramento, Katie Orr has details on what's at stake in the meeting.

The board will consider rules that dictate how school districts can spend money targeted toward low-income and non-English speaking students.

Several interest groups want the rules tightened up, to ensure the money isn’t squandered. Samantha Tran is with the advocacy group Children Now. She says some district wide spending could be good.

Democrats Propose Universal Pre-K Programs

Jan 7, 2014
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Providing transitional kindergarten for all the four-year-olds in California would cost about a $1 billion, but supporters say it would be worth it. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a new proposal introduced today.

In an elementary school near Sacramento, students in a transitional kindergarten class practice saying the date.

These kids are among several thousand California four-year olds enrolled in pre-K programs. Now state Senate Democrats want to make transitional kindergarten available to all four-year-olds.

Transgender Student Law Takes Effect in California

Jan 3, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Beginning this week all California public school districts must allow transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams according to which gender they identify with. Supporters say the law will protect a vulnerable group of students. But opponents think voters should have a say. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

High School Junior Ashton Lee hustles between after school activities. First he makes a stop at the Gay Straight Alliance. There, as club president, he leads a discussion on how to handle holiday stress.

Looking to LA for Transgender Student Policy

Jan 2, 2014
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

As of this week, all public schools districts in California must allow students to use facilities and play on sports teams based on the gender with which they identity, not their biological sex. The law has generated controversy and faces a possible referendum. But a similar policy has been in place in the Los Angeles Unified School District since 2005. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

(“Come on you guys, let’s go!)

Principal Deborah Smith yells for straggling students to hurry as the day begins at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Los Angeles.

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