Brown urged to restore funds for education databases

Educators and a state legislator are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to restore funding to two computer databases that track the performance of students and teachers and could provide insight into the effectiveness of key academic programs, reports the Los Angeles Times. In his latest proposed budget, Brown called for cutting nearly $3.5 million in funding for the two programs, which have long been in development. The student database, known as CalPADS, went online almost two years ago and was about to start producing statistics on the number of students who dropped out over the last four years. The teacher database, known as CalTIDES, had been scheduled to go online this year but has been delayed…

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Many see influence of teachers union in Gov. Jerry Brown’s shakeup of California Board of Education

In one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s first official acts this week, he sacked the majority of the state Board of Education, replacing several vocal proponents of charter schools, parent empowerment and teacher accountability, reports the Los Angeles Times. A broad range of educators, policy makers and others say the move was widely believed to be the handiwork of the California Teachers Assn., which heavily supported Brown in his gubernatorial campaign. The union’s support will be vital if he, as expected, places measures on the June ballot to temporarily raise taxes to ease the state’s budget deficit. It also appears to delay a key vote about parents’ power to reshape failing schools–an effort opposed by the union–leading to strong criticism of the governor from fellow Democrats…

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Education fills big space on Brown’s chalkboard

As Gov.-elect Jerry Brown prepares to take office, major headwinds are buffeting the biggest component of his upcoming budget: California’s schools, reports the Los Angeles Times. They are being confronted by a lack of funding that threatens to further harm pupils and a controversial reform movement that could dramatically reshape how classrooms are run. Most immediate and pressing is the state’s fiscal crisis–a $28-billion gap is forecast for the next 18 months. How that will affect school districts already reeling from years of multibillion-dollar cuts will be the subject of Brown’s second budget forum, which is scheduled for Tuesday in Los Angeles.

“Jerry Brown is entering office at a moment when the capacity of the system is weaker than any time in recent memory,” said John Rogers, director of the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at UCLA. “I worry we may be reaching a breaking point.”

Schools’ financial health is intricately tied to the state budget because roughly 40% of it is earmarked for K-12 education. In recent years, as legislators struggled to close large deficits, schools have seen round after round of funding cuts–$21 billion in the last two years alone. California’s per-pupil spending is now lower than that in nearly every other state, resulting in widespread teacher layoffs, the cancellation of summer school, the shortening of the school year and the overcrowding of classrooms. Educators say the state is seeing the result of these actions–the dropout rate rose three points, to 22%, in the 2008-09 school year–and fear that more cuts could push some districts into insolvency.…Read More