Nearly 400 ACSA (Association for California School Administrators) members were in Sacramento on April 4, 2016 for the association’s annual Legislative Action Day. I was able to meet with our local state senator, Mike McGuire to discuss these points with him. I also invited him to visit Comstock at his earliest convenience.
State Vice President for Legislative Action Linda Kaminski welcomed the grassroots education leader lobbyists to an early morning briefing with former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and Capitol Advisors President Kevin Gordon. The pair instructed them on best practices for meeting with legislators.
Following the briefing, ACSA presented its Friend of Public Education Award to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, for her stalwart support of students and the future of California Schools.
Beginning at 10 a.m. and going until late afternoon, ACSA region teams met with Senate and Assembly members to advocate for a slate of specific positions, including early childhood education, accountability, the teacher shortage and state funding for schools.
Following are details of the issues ACSA members will be discussing with legislators and other policymakers. More detailed information can be find on the ACSA website: www.acsa.org
The governor’s budget proposes to consolidate Transitional Kindergarten, California State Preschool Program, and the Quality Rating and Improvement funds into one early education block grant with the goal of benefiting at-risk and low-income preschoolers. The proposal combines the existing Proposition 98 funding for these programs into a $1.7 billion block grant.
ACSA cannot support the inclusion of the Transitional Kindergarten program funding as part of the proposed Early Education Block Grant. ACSA believes that maintaining the existing age-based Transitional Kindergarten program existing under current law, including the ADA funding model, is imperative. The association is concerned that the governor’s proposal will lock in districts’ funding allocations permanently, without any consideration for additional growth in funding to meet local demand and the higher costs of services.
ACSA believes the fundamental purpose of an accountability system must be to stimulate, support, and recognize high achievement, as well as close achievement gaps among all students and student groups.
There is a need to develop a multifaceted accountability system with a dynamic framework that includes identifying quality education, improving classroom instruction and a reliable body of research and data than can be used to strengthen the system. An accountability system should also be developed that focuses at the local level and a support structure that fosters continuous improvement.
The teacher and substitute teacher shortage has many challenging facets and obstacles to it, including the credentialing pipeline, teacher retention, compensation challenges, fostering positive school site culture and retirement-related attrition. Within those issues come smaller, more challenging issues like the diversity of the teacher pool, developing special education teachers and the cost to the individual of credentialing.
While ACSA knows that the teacher shortage is a very dynamic and fluid issue and we have only touched on some of the topics, the association has chosen to focus on one specific aspect in an effort to provide a stop gap at the site level.
In the past six months, the discussion in Sacramento on the teacher shortage has shown both incredible depth and breadth. The number of interest groups weighing in and contributing to the conversation has been remarkable. ACSA has joined efforts with Assembly member Olsen to select an extension of the timeline for substitute permits as an achievable goal in the short term.
AB 2336 would extend the current timeline of eligibility on emergency substitute teaching permits for special education classrooms. Current law restricts a substitute permit holder from working consistently in a classroom for no more than 20 days with a special education students. This bill would extend the 20-day permit to 40 days. Please note this is not an effort to reduce substitute or teacher quality, but an effort to keep substitutes in place when the situation demands it.
ACSA applauds the governor and the Legislature for investing in public education and the commitment to the Local Control Funding Formula. ACSA is supportive of the $2.8 billion provided to continue the implementation of LCFF. Students are directly being benefited from the acceleration of LCFF funding to get districts to reach their LCFF targets sooner than 2020-21.
ACSA supports the $1.2 billion appropriation in one-time discretionary funding, noting that the funding is meant to offset a district’s remaining mandate reimbursements – all school districts, county offices of education and charter schools are anticipated to receive $214 per ADA even if they do not have outstanding mandates owed to them.
However, there are higher expectations for California students that come with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, new levels of accountability through the Local Control and Accountability Plan and the Every Student Succeeds Act, as well as new assessments through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Collaborative. All of these reforms need to be coupled with the necessary financial resources and supports to ensure that achievement gaps are closed and every student graduates career and college ready.
The existing LCFF funding is a down payment and an investment in California’s students – who are the future of this state and will help to keep California competitive. Additional funding for public education will be used to take existing pilots to scale across all of your school sites.
The investments generated from Proposition 30 have assisted in maintaining existing programs, but the initiative to preserve education funding must be extended to ensure that the additional investments needed in the classroom can be achieved.
Neither Proposition 30 nor LCFF addressed the fundamental problem of insufficient funding for public education. Neither do they provide a long-term solution to California’s funding needs. Proposition 30 is a step in the right direction to invest in California’s students, and a future conversation will need to be held on how to provide stable and sufficient funding for public education.
In order to increase student achievement and support a competitive workforce, a larger financial investment needs to occur to provide robust and challenging classroom environment for all students.
Yearbook message from Principal Hendrickson.
Congratulations on your completion of middle school and your entry into high school! I hope you are proud of your achievements here at Comstock Middle School, and are looking forward to developing yourselves as learners and people who can make a great contribution to our community. We send you off with high hopes that you will use your unique capabilities to improve our world. It is with this in mind that we developed Comstock into what it is today: a school striving to be a leader in 21st century learning.
You are the class that developed a new school with us. You saw us add many new electives to the school such as band, performing arts, digital storytelling, and Project Make. You helped us usher in new culture building activities such as Community Building Days, “Chill Skills”, Safe School Ambassadors, The Boys& Girls Club, student clubs and student government. Many of you ran for office for the first time in a number of years. Some of you created videos, prepared for renaissance rallies, served on our student senate, sang in the choir, built garden beds, cooked delicious food, created beautiful art, wrote novels, developed your math skills on ALEKS, did science experiments, developed Google presentations in History, played on our athletic teams, played soccer on teams that were undefeated and more. All of you worked to build your knowledge to the best of your ability. Thank you for all of your efforts! No matter what ups and downs we faced together over these past two years, we will always be a community and you will always be part of the Comstock family. We truly respect you and are honored that we had a chance to share time with you in such a wonderful learning environment. You are the treasures of our hearts.
It is with deep respect that I, representing all the staff at Comstock, say to you: well, done! I hope you leave here without regrets. Take every success you had here as wind beneath your wings to help you fly. Take every failure as a lesson to be learned towards future success. We will always believe in you, and we will always be your friend.