Ed100 Year in Review, 2023

by Jeff and Carol | January 2, 2024 | 0 Comments
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A year of storm and fury, signifying… what?

The core work of Ed100 is to explain California’s education systems, as plainly and fairly as possible, without losing context or dumbing stuff down.

The system is complex, though, and the sands shift. Budgets ebb and flow, policies change, and inflation makes everything confusing. It’s hard to keep up!

In 2023, education policies were the subject of many heated debates. What actually changed? To help separate fact from fiction, this post is…Ta Da!… our 2023 Ed100 Year in Review.

At the bottom of this post you'll find our Ed100 by the numbers roundup of the work we did in 2023 to help keep you, our readers, up to date and informed. (For a look back, see the 2022 version.) There's also a link with instructions for how to donate.

New laws that parents and teachers should know about: 2023

In the Ed100 blog
New laws that parents and teachers should know about: 2023

New laws on book banning, fentanyl overdoses, violence prevention, and the rights of LGBTQ+ students are just a few of the controversial issues legislators addressed in 2023. Ed100 explains these laws in plain, easy to understand language with links to each law’s legislative history, and relevant context.

Thank you to Kathleen Fay, California State PTA legislative director, for your comment on this post: “What a wonderful summary of important legislation passed this year affecting the lives of California's children, youth, and families.”

Mental health: The big issue of 2023

In the Ed100 blog
Mental health for learning

Social emotional challenges like depression and anxiety can undermine learning. Last year in California the scale of the problem was huge:

  • More than 284,000 youth experienced a major depressive episode.
  • Of those, 66% did not receive treatment.
  • Suicide rates for kids ages 10-18 increased 20% between 2019-2020.

There’s a small silver lining. Shereen Walter, president of the California State PTA, argues that communities are becoming more open about mental health, a necessary step toward addressing it. Her post includes resources to use at your school.

Learning to Vote: California should be better at this

In the Ed100 blog
Learning to vote

Children are not born with a Democracy gene. It is the responsibility of each generation to prepare children to be responsible citizens. Schools play a critical role in this process — in fact, a core purpose of public education is to teach children how to be good citizens. Historically, California has done just OK at this job, ranking 17th among the states in 2022. There’s a lot to be done, and school communities have important roles to play. This post explains the work ahead.

Do parents have veto power to disrupt what kids learn in school?

In the Ed100 blog
What do kids learn in school?

A national debate is raging over parent rights to influence, control, or disrupt what kids learn about in school at a very detailed level. What are the rules?

In California, public schools are guided by a consistent set of content standards. Standards explain what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade. Decisions about what should be taught are mostly made at the state level. Decisions about how to teach it are mostly made at the local level, or even the classroom level.

Among other things, this post explains the important distinction between curriculum and content frameworks. School boards and parents play important roles in these decisions.

California education budget 2023-24

In the Ed100 blog
California's education budget 2023-24

Education funding in California comes from multiple sources that vary depending on economic conditions. Laws and precedents play important roles. It can be complicated. Ed100 explains the plan for 2023-24. There's good news and bad news.

“Ed100 delivers again! This blog is just what parents need to understand how our schools are funded.”
Shereen Walter, President of the California State PTA

Race-blind college admissions in California

In the Ed100 blog
Race-blind college admissions in California

The US Supreme Court ruled in 2023 that colleges may not use race as a factor in admissions decisions. For California’s public colleges, the decision essentially means business as usual. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a state constitutional amendment that broadly outlawed affirmative action.

Whether you support affirmative action or oppose it, we need to remind ourselves that we would not be in this situation if our country met the needs of all children.

Grade inflation: It’s serious. Here’s why.

In the Ed100 blog
Grade inflation: It’s serious. Here’s why.

A growing body of research shows that grade inflation has massively undermined the meaning of letter grades in schools at every level. School systems may face pressures to inject new integrity into the system. This post explains what’s happening, why it’s hard to fix, and why the best solutions require radical new thinking about the meaning of success.

Why California needs better school libraries

In the Ed100 blog
Why California needs better school libraries

Over the last few decades, school libraries have become rare in California, except in the best-funded districts. The recommended minimum number of certificated librarians in a school is 1 per 785 students. The actual number in California is approximately 1 librarian for every 9,667 students.

This post explains the purpose of school libraries, how they are funded, and how they help students learn to think critically.

How does California's Pre-K education system work?

In the Ed100 blog
How does California's Pre-K education system work?

California has gradually expanded the early education system, providing more families with meaningful access to early learning opportunities for their children. Sara Bachez, Deputy Director of the External and Governmental Affairs Office of First Five California, explains a multi-year, $2.7 billion effort to expand preschool and transitional kindergarten to eligible students and why it matters.

Funding for early education may have a difficult year ahead for 2024-25. Perhaps this post can stand as a reminder of what to aim for.

What is family engagement?

In the Ed100 blog
What is family engagement?

As schools and families work to recover from the educational impact of the pandemic, it's more important than ever to engage families in education. The research is clear that family engagement helps kids succeed.

  • Why do so many schools fail to really engage families?
  • What do school communities with effective family engagement actually do that’s different?
  • How does family engagement affect absences?

Heather Ippolito, President-Elect of the California State PTA, explains.

What is dual enrollment?

In the Ed100 blog
What is dual enrollment?

A growing number of high school students are earning college credit by taking courses through community colleges. This is no accident, as Penelope Oliver explains. The obstacles to dual enrollment in California are shrinking.

Digital citizenship

In the Ed100 blog
Digital Citizenship

In a rapidly-changing digital world, being a good citizen requires a new kind of literacy. Schools face new responsibilities and challenges to prepare young people. Mary Perry, an independent education consultant, longtime advisor for Ed100.org, and former Vice President for Education for the California State PTA, reviews resources that can help schools and families adapt.

What are the rights of parents?

Parents have differing opinions about whether and how schools should teach controversial topics and texts. Some argue that all parents should have a kind of veto power over the content of schools and libraries. Others see this as censorious nonsense.

In this post, Ed100 summarizes parent rights in California, along with conflicting views about them.

Gender equity in education

A massive generational shift is driving historic acceptance of sexual and gender diversity.

Even as that shift is occurring, LGBTQ+ kids face huge challenges in schools. School systems are protecting kids from a wave of hate-fueled policies. This post includes an interactive map from the Transgender Law Center that summarizes the level of legal protection in each state.

It’s time to screen all students for dyslexia risks

In the Ed100 blog
Screening for dyslexia

In most states, elementary schools routinely screen each student for the risk of dyslexia so that they get the help they need in early grades. In 2023, California lawmakers finally voted to get with the program. Universal screening in K-2 grades for risk of dyslexia will begin in the 2025-26 school year. This post explains why and the politics behind the debate.

California kids have no right to a quality education. That might change.

In the Ed100 blog
California kids have no right to a quality education.

California's constitution obligates the state to provide public education. It does not, however, establish any expectation at all about the quality of that education. Should it?

Last year, a well-intentioned initiative proposed to establish a constitutional expectation of quality in public education. As drafted, unfortunately, the initiative would have been bad for California students. Ed100 was vocal in its criticism of the measure and we like to think we helped play a role in encouraging a more straightforward declaration of the right of all students to a quality education. A new ballot proposal is anticipated in 2024.

Why does California expend so little effort for education?

For a moment, it appeared as though California’s education funding hit a new record last year. In a way, it did.

But dollars only have meaning in context. The state’s biggest budget for education was also its smallest in history in terms of economic effort. This post explains the meaning of economic effort — and why California can and should do better.

What happens when teachers go on strike?

In the Ed100 blog
What happens when teachers go on strike?

Teacher contracts in California must be renewed every three years. The process usually goes smoothly, but not always. In 2023, teacher strikes throughout the state underscored the state's chronic underinvestment in education. Conflicts about charter school policies also contributed to the strife. How do districts and unions avoid strikes? Leslie Reckler, a trustee on the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education, explains.

Ed100 accomplishments, 2023

Ed100 YouTube playlist
Video summaries of Ed100 chapters

In 2023 we featured 46 new blog posts and 40 updated lessons in English and Spanish. Our email subscribers received fifty messages from us using our revamped email system.

With the help of a small team of students from Carleton College, we reviewed and revised all of our lesson quizzes (102 of them, in English and Spanish) and updated our ten discussion bilingual discussion guides. (If you haven’t tried our discussion guides, you’re missing out — look for the orange star at the bottom of each lesson.) To highlight some of this updated work, we released three YouTube videos summarizing Ed100 Chapters 1, 2 and 3. (Please share them! It helps.)

We also transitioned leadership of the Ed100 Academy for Student Leaders (which we created in 2020 and ran in 2020, 21, and 22) to Children Now, which has rebranded it the Summit for Student Leaders.

Ed100 is a great resource to help future educators learn about the system they are entering. But to this point teacher prep programs haven’t made much use of it, at least as far as we know. We’d like to change that. In 2023 we implemented new tools in Ed100 to help support college educators. This is a new direction for us, and we want to get it right! Who are the professors, deans and provosts that we should be connecting with? We want to help faculty who develop future teachers.

Will you support us?

Thank you for reading and sharing Ed100 in 2023. If our work has helped you understand California's education system, please consider making a donation. Your contribution makes a difference in our ability to help more school communities.

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