Years of resistance to the state masters of Newark’s schools collapsed last night in a stunning show of the political power of the new alliance between state-appointed superintendent Christopher Cerf and Ras Baraka, the mayor whose election was due almost solely to his opposition to state control and his support from employee unions. The elected school board voted 6-2 to approve Cerf’s giveaway to the city of millions of dollars in school property–a plan endorsed by the mayor.
Board members who, for years, had nothing good to say about Cerf and who, just last week, criticized the property plan, supported Cerf. They included members like Marques Aquil-Lewis, Phil Seelinger, Crystal Fonseca and board chair Ariagna Perello, men and women who had demanded Cerf’s resignation more than once.
The vote came late in the meeting and was accompanied by jeers of activists who cried “sell-out” and “conflict” as the board, with its new and ill-fitting political stripes, first beat back an effort to table the transfer of property–and then voted to approve it.
The only two board members to vote against the transfer were Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Donald Jackson. Dashay Carter, who had spoken sharply against the plan at an earlier meeting, abstained. She is an employee of the Newark Housing Authority and said she had a “conflict.”
And that’s at the core of this ignominious defeat of what had once been a brave band of board members who resisted the state’s control for years–four of the board members work for City Hall or one of its agencies. As long as Baraka was at odds with Cerf or his predecessor, Cami Anderson, the board was free to vote its Newark’s school wars are over: Cerf and Baraka win, the people lose |:
What California can do to address teacher shortages
he following is the first in a series of commentaries on the emerging teacher shortage in California. This one focuses on what the state of California can do to address the shortage.
Make no mistake, the teacher shortage is real. The Learning Policy Institute’s recent report “Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage: An Analysis of Sources and Solutions” found that, after sharp declines in teacher education enrollments over the last decade, recent hiring increases left many districts scrambling to find teachers. As districts began to restore teaching positions eliminated during the Great Recession, credentials issued to new teachers were at an historic low.As California has embarked on an ambitious journey to raise standards for student learning and rethink nearly every aspect of its educational system, one of the state’s most pressing challenges is hiring and retaining well-prepared, high-quality teachers who can teach the challenging new skills our society demands. This is especially true when the state faces teacher shortages like those emerging now.
As a result, the number of teachers hired in 2015 without having completed – or sometimes even begun – their preparation soared, reaching one-third of all new credentials issued in the state. Although shortages are occurring across a range of subject areas, the problem is most acute in mathematics, science and special education. In special education, barely half (52 percent) of new teachers are fully prepared. Bilingual teachers and those with training to teach English language acquisition are also in short supply. A small increase in individuals entering preparation this year was nowhere close to the level of demand, and, further, was not in the fields that have the greatest need.And nearby states, also experiencing shortages, were luring away many of these teachers with promises of good salaries and lower housing costs.
As was true in previous eras of shortage, the dearth of qualified teachers is felt most acutely in schools serving more low-income and minority students. According to California’s educator equity plan, in 2013-14, twice as many students in high-minority as in low-minority schools were being taught by a teacher who had not completed – or even enrolled in – a preparation program.
Demand is projected to grow further as districts continue to recover from the recession and seek to replace the programs and positions they eliminated, as they also cope with attrition, which averages about 8 percent of all teachers annually. This includes inevitable retirements – fully one-third of California teachers are over 50 and 10 percent are over 60 years old – but most attrition is due to younger teachers leaving. The reasons range from economic concerns to dissatisfaction with teaching conditions, such as large classes, lack of materials, accountability pressures, lack of administrative supports and lack of public appreciation.
The Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) visits Florida retired teachers
The Little Giant that began the legal suit to the Illinois Supreme Court that successfully defended the constitutional rights of retired Illinois teachers’ pensions met with those retirees who presently live in Florida. I attended the Sarasota meeting in mid-February, and was pleased to hear their repeated promise. “We will go back to court in the event that any of our benefits are threatened,” stated IRTA President David Davison.
While the Illinois Education Association, NEA/IEA, had pushed hard to support SB2404, which would have surrendered some of our constitutionally protected rights and benefits, our little non-union affiliated IRTA hired lawyers to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court rather than agreeing to diminish our incomes without a challenge. At the time, Illinois had a Democratic governor and a super-majority Democratic House and Senate. Corruption and attacks on teacher pensions have no political party affiliations.
The NEA/IEA then joined with the other We Are One Illinois (WAOI) coalition of unions to support the challenge to active and retired teachers’ income. Together we won.
Why LAUSD's projected graduation rate shot up nine points in one month
File photo: At the end of the fall semester, barely half of Los Angeles Unified high school seniors were on-track for graduation. By Feb. 18, that number had jumped to 63 percent. CRYSTAL MARIE LOPEZ/FLICKR
When second semester classes came to an end in January, barely half of the 32,000 seniors in Los Angeles Unified high schools were on-track to graduate at the end of this year.
Now, six weeks later, 63 percent of L.A. Unified seniors are on-track to earn diplomas, a district memo shows — and another 17 percent are only one or two courses behind.
But what looked like a sudden shift in the numbers is the result of what district officials described Tuesday as part of a year-long, district-wide effort to ensure off-track high school seniors earn the credits they need to get their diplomas.
Specifically, the updated numbers include for the first time students who made up credits during the fall semester. Some even finished their credit recovery work over winter break, said L.A. Unified Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson.
But only 43 percent of this year’s seniors are currently on-track to graduate with a C average or better — a bar students must clear to be eligible for admission at University of California or California State University campuses.
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