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.

UC's Napolitano Calls for 2014-15 Tuition Freeze

Nov 14, 2013
Ben Adler

University of California students could see a third straight year without a tuition increase.  New UC President Janet Napolitano says she hopes to extend the current tuition freeze through the 2014-15 school year.  Ben Adler has more on Napolitano’s first UC Regents meeting as president Wednesday.

Six weeks into her new job, the former Arizona governor and Secretary of Homeland Security is putting forth a four-pronged agenda.  First: a tuition freeze.

Study: More California Latinos Attend College, Few Finish

Nov 5, 2013
Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson

College is a goal for the majority of Latinos graduating from California high schools. But as Katie Orr reports, a new report out today shows few Latinos actually finish college.

The study from the organization The Campaign for College Opportunities finds seven out of ten California Latino high school graduates enrolled in college last year. But just 11 percent of Latino adults in the state have a bachelors or graduate degree. 

Study: Distracted Driving A Big Problem, Even Near Schools

Oct 18, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s new evidence that distracted driving is a problem not just on the roadways in general – but specifically around schools.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The California Friday Night Live Partnership and the Allstate Foundation asked high school students to spend an hour counting distracted drivers at nearly 70 schools across the state.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

From a young age, Geronimo Garcia wore a uniform to school: high socks, shorts and a white T-shirt.

It wasn’t a school requirement. Rather, it was an older brother requirement.

“They used to dress me up like a little gangster,” Geronimo says. “To me I always thought that was cool, but you know, as I think of it now, I don’t think that was cool when I was young. Come on, looking at a little kid dressed up in gangster?”

Since then, his clothing has determined who he hung out with at school.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A fire and explosion inside a food vendor's trailer at Fresno Christian High School sent two men to the hospital and injured another on Friday night. 

Just before 6:30 p.m. a blast from a 20-gallon propane tank sent shrapnel as far as 150 feet across Alluvial Avenue. The explosion ripped off the roof and the sides of the trailer, where vendors were serving food prior to the start of a football game on campus. Officials with the Fresno Fire Department say that prior to the explosion employees detected a propane leak and a fire.

Teacher Discipline Bill Passes Legislature

Sep 13, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would streamline the process for disciplining or firing a public school teacher or other employee charged with child abuse has cleared the California legislature. 

Democratic Assembly member Joan Buchanan says her measure is a big improvement over the status quo in the public schools when it comes to getting rid of bad employees.

California Bill Would Immediately Begin New Academic Test Standards

Sep 4, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would immediately start phasing in California’s new computer based standardized school achievement assessment has passed out of a key senate committee. The bill would allow most districts to opt-out of the old system.

The new Common Core academic standards will be in place this academic year. Assembly member Susan Bonilla authored the bill. She says it gives most districts a chance to evaluate students based on those standards now.

Commentary: Does Teaching Yoga In Schools Promote Religion?

Aug 14, 2013
Flickr user / Creative Commons License /

Is teaching yoga to kids a form of religious indoctrination? About a month ago, a California judge ruled that yoga could be taught at the Encinitas Union School District without violating the constitutional separation of church and state.  But the plaintiffs will probably appeal the decision. The story hit home for me, because I’ve been one of those skeptics of yoga—and I’ve also been a yoga instructor.

This week on Valley Edition  we focus on education, the environment and agriculture. Host Joe Moore speaks with Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson about what the Obama administration’s decision to give the district a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act will mean for district students.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that increases the rights of transgender students at public schools.  It will allow students to participate in extracurricular activities and use school facilities based on their gender identity – not their physical characteristics.

Critics have suggested “bad actors” could use the law to prey on school children.  But the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, calls those complaints “scare tactics” and says they’ll go away with education.


A day after the U.S. Department of Education gave eight of California's largest school districts a waiver from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson praised the decision, saying it will improve accountability and student performance, and "allows us to do work very differently." 

The districts, which include Sanger Unified and Fresno Unified, are all members of a coalition called the California Office to Reform Education or CORE.

Military veterans new to California would be allowed to pay in-state tuition in the state’s colleges and universities under competing bills now making their way through the legislature.

One bill would waive the in-state tuition eligibility rule that requires veterans to be stationed in California at least one year before being honorably discharged.  Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva is one of the bill’s co-authors. She says it would save some vets from crushing debt.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Two Valley school districts – Fresno Unified and Sanger Unified – were granted a one-year waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act today by the U.S. Department of Education. The move will allow school officials to introduce their own plans for a new statewide curriculum and avoid costly penalties under the law.

The districts were among eight in California to receive the waiver, and are all members of a coalition called the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California education officials are reaching out to school districts, teachers and parents as they prepare to implement the state’s complicated new school funding system. They’re holding informational meetings starting this week at several county education offices across the state.

CSU Campuses Expand Online Course Offerings

Jul 31, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California State University students can now enroll in more online classes than they’ve been able to.

CSU’s Mike Uhlenkamp says starting Thursday students can take online classes at any CSU campus - even courses not available at their home campus.

“A student can be enrolled at Sacramento State but take a course that’s available online from Channel Islands," says Uhlenkamp.

He says the new system will help make up for a lack of available spots in high-demand classroom courses.

Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

A controversial transgender student bill is awaiting action from California Governor Jerry Brown. As Max Pringle reports from Sacramento, it would

allow transgender students to play on sports teams and use the facilities of the gender with which they identify.

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lee says he sometimes feels isolated. His school district in Manteca views him as a girl but he identifies as male.  Lee says getting assigned to girls P.E. and having to use the female restrooms unfairly singles him out. 

New School Funding Formula Mandates Parental Involvement

Jul 29, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s new education funding formula sends more dollars to disadvantaged students – with new strings attached.  School districts will have to show how they’ll spend the money to improve student achievement – and how they’ll measure success.  And as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, they’ll have to hear from one important group before they adopt their plans.

Education officials from nine California school districts are lobbying the US Department of Education this week in Washington, DC for waivers to the “No Child Left Behind” Act. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

The superintendents represent a good chunk of the state’s population. They’re making the case that the “No Child Left Behind Act’s” focus on boosting test scores leaves instructors too little time to teach skills that students will need later in life. Troy Flint is with the Oakland Unified School District.

Napolitano Tapped to Head UC System

Jul 12, 2013
Janet Napolitano / DHS

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is being tapped to serve as the next president of the University of California. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, so far reaction to the announcement has been largely positive.

President Barack Obama, Governor Jerry Brown and numerous other politicians and colleagues have voiced their support for the choice. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a UC Board of Regents member, says UC needs to find a new way to operate. And he says Napolitano is the right person for what could be a tough job.