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Morning Read: ‘Parent Trigger’ Law Needs Amending

LA School Report | September 20, 2013

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Fix the ‘parent trigger’
Editorial: The Los Angeles Unified School District did the right thing by setting some new requirements for “parent trigger” petitions for school reform. But the small changes a local district can make don’t go nearly far enough to amend a sloppily written and poorly implemented state law. After years of ignoring the resulting dysfunction, the Legislature and State Board of Education need to step up and fix their mistakes. LA Times

Let’s just teach Common Core, not celebrate it, OK?
Commentary: Steve Zimmer, vice president of the Los Angeles Unified school board, is a product of Teach for America and a guy who sincerely cares about providing good things for the district’s students. He’s also known for his tendency to seek out Kumbaya moments, to take awhile talking out his ideas and to debate with himself endlessly on every thorny issue. But these likable characteristics sometimes result in less-than-lovable moments, especially when Zimmer produces one of his more out-there ideas for the board’s consideration. He was at it again this week as the board considered (yet again!) how to spend $113 million in one-time funds to get schools ready for the switch to the Common Core curriculum. LA Times

House votes to cut food stamps by $4 billion annually
In a vote taken late Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, in a 217-210 vote. The bill would not directly affect many households with children, but would grant certain benefits to schools. It would also cut benefits to hundreds of thousands of adults. The total cuts would be divided over 10 years, for $4 billion in cuts annually and $40 billion overall. Education Week

Teacher, two superintendents to serve on funding law’s new agency
Consistent with the goal of shifting power over education decisions away from Sacramento, the Local Control Funding Formula law creates a new agency to work with, not dictate to, local districts on how to meet their improvement goals. In the first step toward launching the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, the Legislature this month determined that a teacher and two superintendents will form the majority on its governing board. Ed Source

The Year of the Asterisk?
Commentary: As states plan for new Common-Core-aligned student assessments in the spring of 2015, policymakers are struggling to transition their testing and accountability programs.  Last week, California legislators took an unprecedented step:  they voted to discontinue their old test and conduct a statewide field test of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in the spring of 2014.   More controversially, they will exclude many eligible students from the testing and withhold scores from school districts, teachers or parents.   This aspect of the plan has drawn warnings from the U.S. Department of Education, putting the state’s $1.5 billion in annual federal funding for Title I at risk. Education Next

Next steps weighed on federal ‘Double-Testing’ relief
The U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that it will give states the chance to suspend some or all of their current tests in mathematics and English/language arts for the 2013-14 school year could spark big changes in student testing nationally. The offer comes with strict conditions, however, and doesn’t mean that states can skip tests altogether. Education Week

Unfairly fired teachers deserve court protection
Commentary: We believe that thousands of American teachers will lose their jobs in the next few years because of the recently designed, more demanding evaluation systems now found in most of our states. These new teacher-evaluation procedures were triggered by a pair of federal initiatives that mark a sea change in job security for the nation’s teachers. Most U.S. teachers, however, don’t seem too worried about these looming dismissals because they believe that teachers who are fired as a result of unsound evaluation systems can readily get those dismissals reversed in court. But they’re mistaken. Education Week

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