Public Schools Get Funding to Bridge the Achievement Gap
Serious steps that must be taken to close the achievement gap and improve educational outcomes for our lowest-performing students. In September 2018, California took a huge step forward in supporting thousands of students who are being left behind academically year after year.
Thanks to new funding through the Low Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG), our state's lowest-performing students are set to receive an additional $2,000 in per pupil educational funding. This critical new one-time funding, adapted from Assembly Bill (AB) 2635, will help close the achievement gap and increase funding for nearly 150,000 of the state's lowest-performing students by driving additional resources to school districts, county offices of education, and charter public schools.
In November 2018, the California Department of Education (CDE) sent an official letter to County Superintendents of Schools detailing new information regarding the LPSBG, including how much funding school districts, charter schools or county offices are scheduled to receive based on the number of eligible students. Students are only eligible for LPSBG funding if they are not otherwise identified for supplemental grant funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) or eligible for special education services.
A total of 47 school districts across the state which will receive at least $1 million dollars for the school year 2018-19 as part of the LPSBG. By March 1, each of these districts (Local Educational Agencies or LEAs) are required to submit a plan for how they will use the grant funds to increase academic performance. By November 1, 2021, the districts must submit a report detailing implementation of their plans, the strategies used, and whether those strategies successfully increased the academic performance of the identified pupils.
Significant research exists to help guide principals and school leaders in the development and implementation of the LPSBG. I encourage school leaders to consider how they will communicate and involve parents in their plans. For example, I’ve conducted trainings using research-based parent testimonials. Evaluations of these training programs are posted at no charge on the website: www.fortuneandassoicates.com. More information is available in my book entitled, Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do.
LPSBG funding is a new opportunity for us to make deeper investments in the success of our most vulnerable students. And school leaders should be aware of the resources that exist to help ensure these funds help our neediest students. Successful implementation of this funding could pave the way for similar, and perhaps larger, investments in the future.
The Low-Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG) is a big win for our students. Let’s make it count!
Dr. Rex Fortune served as the Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction in the California Department of Education and superintendent of two California school districts. He founded Fortune School of Education (FSE), established a Master’s Degree in Education program for FSE graduates, and worked with his daughter, Margaret G. Fortune, who established a charter management organization. Dr. Fortune served as past chairman of the board of Fortune School of Education and as its director of research and evaluation. He also served as past president of the Pacific Charter Institute board. Fortune received his B.S. degree in biology and US Army Commission from A & T State University of North Carolina, his MA in educational administration from UC Berkeley and his PhD in educational administration from Stanford University. “Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do Second Edition,” released in October 2018 is his fifth book in Education. All three of his children are college graduates. Fortune and his wife Margaret S. Fortune live in Granite Bay, California.
Why You Should Support Susan Rubio for State Senate
Posted October 30, 2018
The recent election of Vanessa Delgado to the California State Senate representing the 32nd Senate District is a great reminder why voters need to pay attention to elections and candidates.
Delgado, Mayor of Montebello, ran for both the special and general elections in June – The two elections for the same position ran concurrently thanks to disgraced former State Senator Tony Mendoza who resigned leaving time in his term open after an independent review of sexual misconduct allegations supported the claims of several woman (including interns) as more than likely true.
Delgado won the special election and the subsequent general election in August earning her the right to serve as the 32nd representative for a total of 83 days when the remaining term of Mendoza’s expires. Delgado did not win the primary for the general election, or four-year full term that begins in January. Voters, for some reason chose her for the short-term and not the long-term, instead giving it to another Democrat from Pico Rivera.
Delgado will be a footnote in California’s elected history as the second shortest-term representative ever elected and only Latina serving in 2018 as a member of the upper house.
How is this possible in 2018 to have one Latina serving in the State Senate and for only 83 days? (Connie Leyva heritage in non-Latino her last name is via marriage).
Susan Rubio may be able to take the lead on reforming the makeup of the Senate in Sacramento. As a candidate running for the 22nd State Senate District, Rubio won the open primary in June to advance alongside another Democrat, Mike Eng, to the November general election.
Rubio is a member of the Baldwin Park City Council and has served as a teacher for over a decade. In addition to strong across the board support from women’s group, city and local elected officials, and public safety and business organizations, Rubio showed voters responded favorably to her primary campaign allowing her to best a fellow Latina councilwoman and community activist.
Now is the time for voters to really invest in learning about the different visions Rubio and Eng have put forth for the district.
As an example, Rubio is an immigrant who at one time was deported for not having the proper paperwork to live legally in the U.S. Through a process Rubio and her sister eventually earned their citizenship.
This first-hand account and experience dealing with immigration issues along with the anxieties and challenges of living, learning and working makes her ideal to lead California’s resistance against the cruel policies offered through the current federal administration.
Rubio’s determination to earn her educating credentials including a Master’s degree and teaching credential working as teacher and assistant principal is impressive.
From not being wanted in this country to living the American dream, Susan Rubio’s life is inspirational.
As a candidate, we believe Rubio’s ideas are better aligned with the needs of the district including when it pertains to education and the business community. We also believe Rubio has had more involvement with the various communities of the district working with other city officials on projects and reforms to grow the cities that make up the bulk of the San Gabriel Valley.
The 22nd district has just over 930,000 residents with roughly 360,000 Spanish speakers and just under 500,000 individuals self-identifying as Latino.
This is not just about making history. Elections are about knowing which candidates represent your interests best and those of the greater community in general. After hearing from both candidate it is our opinion that Susan Rubio better reflects the communities and understands the needs of the district and deserves your consideration and support come November 6, 2018.
LAUSD Faces a Strike, UTLA Faces Public Pushback.
What Do Students Face?
Posted on October 3, 2018
Uncertainty. A dreaded word in the world of politics, business and finance. Yet this is the word most would use to describe current negotiations between the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest district, and the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), one of the most powerful unions in the state.
On one side you have LAUSD and its superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and CEO/Publisher of the Los Angeles Times, claiming UTLA’s demands, which include a 6.5% raise retroactive to June of 2016, will in effect bankrupt the district. LAUSD faces several funding issues including long-term debt incurred from retirees and their pensions with features that include medical and dental covered at 100% for life for most eligible employees.
UTLA has complained that teachers are not earning what they deserve and have gone without a contract for several years earning no cost of living increases. UTLA is asking for additional training dollars, stipends for classroom supplies and smaller class sizes.
Key to the entire issue of contracts is the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF. This state formula is complex and delivers the district no additional funds even as prices for goods and services increase. LAUSD is left with the same budget no matter what the fiscal climate.
No one wants a strike. The last strike in 1989 was chaotic and turned nasty quick with teachers and representatives of the union lambasting those who crossed picket lines sending parents scrambling to place their children in other schools or in affordable daycare on a short-term basis.
This leaves the students. What do they get out of this?
If there is a strike, students can face a disruption in their daily schedules and the possibility of having to stay home as their schools close for the duration of a strike. This would be calamitous for working parents.
Latinx and African-American students comprise most of the student population in LAUSD – and most are struggling. A strike would set these students back further without daily instruction. This is especially true as testing for most grades will take place towards the end of October.
Both the union and the district could face a backlash as parents have more options available to them than before, and if frustrations reach a boiling point, LAUSD could see an exodus of students adding to the woes of both the district and the union.
Parents would be within their rights to walk away from LAUSD and place their child in a private, religious, public (non-affiliated district) charter school or choose to homeschool.
The two sides remain in discussions but are reportedly far apart from reaching a deal. Mediation between the two began on September 27th and each side submitted their best and final offers.
There’s no argument that teachers deserve a raise and swift actions should be taken to ensure better working conditions for them. At the same time, consideration must be given to the fact the district is facing uncertainty with its finances dealing with rising costs with no additional funds coming in and an urgent need to right its fiscal house.
One thing that is not uncertain - if these two groups cannot find middle ground it may be the parents who make decisions for them going forward.
I Know the Importance of Latino Leadership for California’s Public Schools
By Tony Thurmond
Posted on September 24,2018
Posted on September 24,2018
As we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, and to recognize the contributions of Latinos in America and in California, I take a moment to harken back to the sacrifices my ancestors made that helped me to get to where I am today.
My experience is one of blended cultures and traditions. My mother’s parents were born in Colombia and Jamaica and raised their seven children in Panama. My grandparents on my father’s side were the descendants of African slaves who were brought to America and settled in Mississippi and Detroit, Michigan.
My maternal grandparents struggled to make a living cleaning people’s homes. My grandmother and each of her children, including my mother, emigrated to the United States in hopes of finding better opportunities in America. In San Jose, California, my mother became a teacher. My father was a soldier, stationed at the army base at Fort Ord in Monterey where I was born.
No one in my family was ever elected to any office or even ran for an office, so I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity serve as an elected official for almost 12 years as a city councilman, a school board member, and in the California State Assembly. My passion for education is what led me to pursue the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the top education official in the state of California. If elected I would be the first ever Latino and the first ever Afro-Latino elected to this office. At a time when our student body is more than 50% Latino, it would be an honor to work to provide a great quality education for Latino students and all of our students in California.
As a first-generation American, standing on the shoulders of my ancestors who made such great sacrifices for me, it is my hope to be able to pay it forward by continuing to serve and provide other immigrants, Latinos, and all Californians with education and resources they need to live a great life.
I was six years old when my mother lost her battle to cancer. My father did not return to our family after his service in Vietnam – when I met him for the first time as a 39 year old, he told me that the physical and mental scars of war made it difficult for him to reconnect to his family. So with no parents to care for us, my three siblings and I got split up, with my brother and I moving to Philadelphia to be raised by a cousin, another Panamanian immigrant, who we had never met. I would go many years without seeing my other two siblings.
In Philadelphia, we struggled. We were on every form of public assistance you can imagine. I was a student on the free lunch program. My family used food stamps – I often joke I ate so much government cheese that I thought USDA was a brand name. But these programs helped us to overcome poverty.
Education was extremely important to my cousin, who adopted me as her son. While she worked to get her degree taking night classes at community college, she also made sure my brother and I got a great education. In public school, I found teachers who believed in me and would stay after school to help me eventually get to college. There I would be elected student body president.
After college, I went to graduate school and became a social worker so that I could help the children and families who were like me and my family. I spent 20 years serving at-risk young people, including 12 years working directly in schools where I ran afterschool programs, mentoring programs to support first-generation college students, and provided mental health services in schools. I have taught students at the high school, college, and graduate school levels, including high school students in the juvenile justice system.
As a state legislator, I’ve made it my focus to use my experiences in social work and education to create laws that help low-income families and students of color in California. I’ve achieved results for all of California’s students, but I am immensely proud of my efforts to increase funding for bilingual education and dual language instruction, support ethnic studies, expand programs for naturalization services, ensure children receive state health insurance regardless of immigration status, and help create a sanctuary state.
As a son raised by immigrants, I will always stand up against ICE raids and make it clear that we should embrace the diversity of our California families. I’ve stood up to President Trump and condemned his plans to separate our immigrant families and to push families into prisons. I oppose private prisons which are profiting off the breaking up and jailing of families. I introduced a bill to tax private prison companies and put the funding from that tax into early education and afterschool programs.
I’ve been given the distinct honor as a state legislator to be the first and only person to serve in the California Legislative Latino Caucus and the California Legislative Black Caucus. This has uniquely positioned me as a leader in the fight for the needs of black and brown people, who can build bridges between communities to ensure that all of our students receive the funding and quality education they need to help close the achievement gap. From reforms I’ve led to move money from incarceration to education, to my work to promote teaching tolerance and combating racism in the classroom, I’m proud to fight for issues that impact black and brown students.
Together with immigrants, communities of color, and my heroes who have endorsed me – including civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher – I’ll fight for a public education system that provides every student, no matter their heritage, with opportunities in the 21st century economy, if I have the honor of being elected California’s first Latino State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) is a candidate for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction in the November 6, 2018 election. Learn more about Tony at www.tonythurmond.com and get in touch at [email protected].
'Think Babies' Should Be the Motto of All New Parents
By Erendida Lopez
When I was a toddler, my parents weren't as involved in my early development as I would have liked them to be for several reasons, including work and language barriers. I didn't know at the time, of course, how important it is that parents understand and fulfill the critical role they play as their child's first teacher, but I still sensed that something was missing. I knew early on that when I started my family, I wanted to be 100 percent involved in my own children's lives and education.
I've learned so much since then about the importance of early engagement with my baby and early brain development, thanks to organizations like ZERO TO THREE and the Pediatric Therapy Network's Early Head Start program. My husband and I are much better parents thanks to their expert knowledge and guidance which has meant invaluable benefits for both our children, 7-month-old Baby Cruz and 5-year-old Christian.
Cruz and I made a deliberate decision to become fully engaged parents once our first son, Christian, was born. Even though we worked at different times of the day, I work in the evening and he works during the day, we shared responsibility in creating a fun learning environment for him. Recognizing the value of the early learning support we received with Christian, we didn't hesitate to enroll our second child in the Well Baby program, the outreach program for newborns.
And it's because we were involved from the start that we learned Christian needed pediatric therapy for speech and cognitive development. Having a child assisted with development issues that most parents take for granted is a difficult undertaking but there are advantages in being part of your child's therapy routine.
The professionals, including registered nurses, who administer the therapy also provide parents with information on the benefits of healthy eating and living, the ability to create nurturing environments crucial for learning and how reinforcing learning habits help build a foundation for strong academic success later in life.
Having this knowledge and insight has transformed our approach as parents and how we view our role as teachers in our babies' development.
But it shouldn't take a developmental issue for parents to focus on the early learning aspects of their toddler or newborn baby. Learning should be an integral part of their daily activities. Babies should grow up enjoying learning as they enter pre-K or Early Head Start programs. Forming the foundation for learning will help them later in life as adults and give them a sense of focus.
The science is clear - babies' brains grow faster between the ages of 0 and 3 than at any later point in life. In fact, their brains form more than 1 million new neural connections every second. I've learned that when babies have nurturing relationships, early learning experiences and good health and nutrition, those neural connections are stimulated and strengthened, laying a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.
Organizations like ZERO TO THREE have created awareness programs to inform parents and policymakers about the significant role early interaction and planning plays in the lives of infants and toddlers. Their social, emotional and overall cognitive development grows exponentially from birth to three, impacting a child's life-long learning abilities.
I would urge parents with backgrounds similar to mine to not let language barriers, income levels or lack of a formal education interfere with your role as your child's first teacher in life. Find the programs available in your community that are right for you and your baby. Seek out the expertise of organizations like ZERO TO THREE and learn what resources are out there to help create that learning foundation for your baby. Talk to your local elected officials about why it's so important they support quality early learning programs.
We can all make a difference in a child's life from the start if we know the facts and science behind development, are aware of programs and services set up to help us as parents and urge our representatives in state government to create or maintain early learning programs. It all starts if we collectively Think Babies.
About the Author
Erendida Lopez is the Chairwoman of the Pediatric Therapy Network Policy Council and she and her husband Cruz are the parents of two young sons, with one attending a local early head start program.