Commentary: Does Teaching Yoga In Schools Promote Religion?

Aug 14, 2013
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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.