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Slipped Past You?

In meeting rooms scented with back-to-school coffee, parent leaders and teachers are shifting from summer mode to school mode. After a couple months of not thinking much about the education system, has a bit of summer "learning loss" kicked in? When you tuned out for the summer, a bunch of things were changing, remember? Even heroic leaders can feel unsettled, like Jefferson returning from France. (Yes, that's a Hamilton reference: "What'd I miss?")

Updated: 80+ Lessons
Added: 700+ Questions

Fear not, the Ed100 team has been busy preparing. Over the summer we reviewed and updated over 80 lessons and blog posts that explain important topics in California's education system. We have added over 700 clarifying questions to these lessons, making them even easier to skim and search, in English and in Spanish. Using Ed100, anyone can become knowledgeable about the California education system, fast.

Here are some of the things you need to know about that might have slipped past you, and where to look in Ed100.

Image: cool as a cucumber CC slip n slide

The New Dashboard. California is in the process of rolling out new ways to find out how well your school is doing. The California School Dashboard is a little complicated, but it's informative and useful, and school leaders need to know how it works. Ed100 Lesson 9.7 explains the Dashboard succinctly.

Your new powers... California's school system used to be very centralized, with Sacramento calling virtually all the shots. That has changed. The Local Control Funding Formula has shifted substantial power into school districts and county offices of education.

...as community leaders. We recently added a set of informative new posts on school boards, parcel taxes and school bonds to help you learn what you need to know about them.

California's Diversity. America is struggling to come to terms with its diversity, but California is ahead of the curve. We totally revamped Lesson 2.1 to provide a compact summary of the many forms of diversity in California's schools, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

Changes to Special Education. School districts cannot easily control special ed costs, which are becoming a large share of total expenditures. There is plenty of buzz suggesting that special education is going to change in California, though it isn't clear how. We updated lesson 2.7 to explain how the system works currently and why change is in the air.

Undocumented Students. Fickle immigration policies personally affect about one in every 8 children in California schools. We extended and updated lesson 2.9 to provide the best available information about immigration and education in California.

Student Voices. If your school district includes a high school, your school board probably has a new student representative (if not, why not?). We asked Ella Smith, now a freshman at UC Berkeley, to share her advice for students stepping into this important role. Please share her post to give the new student board member of your board a leg up!

The Teacher Shortage. If your school is having trouble hiring good teachers, you're not alone. We updated lesson 3.2 with data about the teacher shortage, which may take a while to address. Enrollment in teacher prep courses has shrunk over an extended period.

Teacher Pensions. Total funding for education in California has finally recovered from its 2008 swoon, driven by recent stock market gains… but school districts are grimly tightening their belts. What gives? The answer has to do with the teacher pension system, which is finally dealing with some expensive realities. Freshly updated, lesson 3.11 explains why.

Attendance. When kids miss school, it should be seen as a huge warning sign. Parent organizations can do a lot to raise awareness of the importance of school attendance, which we explore in newly updated lesson 4.8.

Vouchers. The Trump administration has re-ignited debate about using vouchers to subsidize the cost of tuition at private schools, most of which are affiliated with a religion. California voters have twice rejected similar proposals. We updated and extended lesson 5.6 to summarize the facts and the arguments from our blog post about it.

Measuring School Climate. Your school district might be considering whether to invest in a "school climate" survey this year. It's not expensive, and it's a good idea. Lesson 5.10 explains why the state doesn't just fund it for everybody. It's an important case study on the challenges of local control within a state system.

Suspension policy. Schools are rapidly dumping suspension as a disciplinary measure, and the new school Dashboard is adding visibility to the trend. If your school hasn't re-evaluated its suspension policy yet, this could be the year. Lesson 5.13 explains.

Technology. The internet is a vital tool for education and communication, but public schools substantially remain "dead zones", even in California. We expanded Lesson 6.6 to explain the connections between technology and education, and the policy problem that makes technology another source of inequality in public education.

New Standards for the Arts. Revised content standards for art education are in the works in California -- including, for the first time, standards for the media arts. Districts will need to set some funds aside to roll out the new standards when completed in 2019. Lesson 6.8 has been updated with links to the work in progress.

Career Education. Should high schools focus on preparing students for the job market or on preparing them for college? Public opinion is shifting on this question, partly in response to swelling college costs and the risks of college debt. We strengthened Lesson 6.11 with new information about Career Technical Education programs and Linked Learning.

Bilingual Education. In a reversal of public opinion, California voters in 2016 eliminated the requirement that classes must be taught primarily in English. This year, more schools in California will be adding bilingual programs, if they can find qualified teachers. We updated Lesson 6.3 and 6.16 to reflect the new rules.


Whew! We hope our busy summer of updates to Ed100 help you quickly get up to speed on what's new. What did we miss? Drop me a line at jeff@ed100.org.

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