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State Board of Education plans to declare emergency in 1,000 schools

http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/sbelivestream.aspPresident Ted Mitchell leads the State Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

The California State Board of Education is expected to declare an emergency today in 1,000 public schools the state has designated as among the lowest performing in the state.

The emergency declaration, which is Item 32 on the board's agenda today in Sacramento, suggests that students in those schools are at risk of "serious harm," and that their health, safety and general welfare may be threatened by remaining in those schools.

The emergency declaration is necessary because the board, whose members are all appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wants to accelerate implementation of legislation approved earlier this year allowing students to transfer to higher-performing schools, even to schools in other districts. That options has not been readily available to many students in California until now.

The California State PTA will challenge the board's finding of an emergency at the meeting today. "We are very concerned about the workability of the findings, the alarmist nature of the findings, without giving parents time to understand what it means, what their options are, and find an alternative for their child," said Patty Scripter, an education advocate for the state PTA. 

Once the board votes, its resolution declaring an emergency goes to the Office of Administrative Law for review, a process which includes a five-day public comment period  (from July 15 to July 20) before the emergency goes into effect.

The law sets out a timeline allowing parents to apply to transfer their children to schools in other districts by Jan. 1 preceding the school year they wish to transfer. But the state board wants the law implemented immediately, to allow students who wish to enrol in other districts by November 1, rather than the fall of 2011, as the law seemed to envisage.  

The resolution the board will vote on today states that "an emergency exists" and that faster implementation of the law is "necessary to avoid serious harm to the public peace, health, safety or general welfare, especially for public school pupils" attending the 1,000 schools designated as lowest performing in the state.

Several board members, including Schwarzenegger's most recent appointees, work for charter school organizations or are strong advocates of charter schools. The law specifically excludes charter schools from the list of lowest-performing schools.

Board members were tied up in their meeting in Sacramento yesterday, and did not respond to a request for a comment.

Scripter said the PTA "shares concerns about the achievement gap, and students need opportunities to suceed." But, she said, some of the 1,000 schools on the low performing list are actually making substantial progress, and many schools where test scores are even lower do not appear on the list because of the formula used to draw it up. 

She said the board also hasn't sufficiently considered the impact of children transferring to another school eight to 10 weeks into the school year, on both the students who are transferring and on the students in the classes they join – assuming that spaces are available to transfer to. "It is not setting up a child for success by transferring so late into the school year," she said.

You can send comments on the board's emergency findings between July 15 and July 20 to regcomments@cde.ca.gov.

Filed under: K–12, Daily Report


Comments are closed for this story.
educationdad's picture
We definitely need to do something about low-performing charters, but adding them to this list would accomplish nothing – parents can already pull their kids out of a charter at any time.
wmartin46's picture
Hmmm .. there isn't much information in this article. For instance, is there a list of these schools on a WEB-site? If not, why not? What is the current API for each of these schools, and what has been the yearly growth in API scores? What is the per-capita spending on each of these schools? What is the educational attainment for each school's parents (parental education is the best predictor of student achievement). What is the likely percentage of students in failing schools are in the US illegally? Most of this information is published on the DoE WEB-site, although in a "raw" format. For instance, if one downloads the API data, and creates a simple spreadsheet for Schools vs API, one sees that about 2/3rds of the schools are performing at a score less than 800 (which is the base point for "adequate"). Some of the schools have APIs in the 400s. This information has been available since standardized testing was imposed on CA schools, although the API is a fairly new invention. Certainly these 1,000 schools have been known to be "low performing" since the API was adopted. So .. what makes this an "emergency" .. since education officials have known about their problems for a long time? Just changing schools isn't going to fix much. And spending more money is not the answer either.
Dr. Jodi's picture
(The link for the list of schools is embedded in the article.) This seems a bit like screaming "fire" in a crowded theater and watching the chaos that ensues. There is no plan for what happens if/when a significant proportion of these schools' parent decide to take their kids elsewhere. How exactly is that going to happen? How will teachers be moved from the schools with the escapees to the schools welcoming them? School starts in five weeks in most CA districts and this is going to create a major disruption. The intentions are good, but the implementation hasn't been considered.

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