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In Schools

[Ed Source] Federal after-school funding preserved for now
Apr 15, 2015 |

[Ed Source] Federal after-school funding preserved for now

The U.S. Senate’s education committee voted Wednesday to keep dedicated funding for after-school and summer programs, which initially was not included in its proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to amend the reauthorization bill to include funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. California received more than $127 million in federal funding in 2014-15 to provide before- and after-school and summer programs. Across the country, about 1.6 million students participate in programs funded by community center grants.
[Ed Source] Experts to discuss narrowing ‘opportunity gap’ in California
Apr 15, 2015 |

[Ed Source] Experts to discuss narrowing ‘opportunity gap’ in California

Rarely has one state attempted to make such sweeping changes to its K-12 education system as California is now doing. With the adoption of the Common Core standards, the transition to a new school funding formula and the shift from state to local control over spending, California is simultaneously changing what schools teach, how they are funded and how they’re governed.
[US News] School Lunch or Brown Bag: Which Is Right for Your Kid?
Apr 14, 2015 |

[US News] School Lunch or Brown Bag: Which Is Right for Your Kid?

It's the early-morning scramble, when parents and children rush around the house brushing teeth, grabbing toast and kissing each other goodbye for the day. In the midst of the madhouse, some manage to pack a lunch, and if they're fortunate, conscientious and have time, it might be a healthy one. But relying on the school to provide the midday meal may be easier for parents and healthier for children, even though kids don't always like the options landing on their trays.
[Ed Source] New agency to support schools still taking shape
Apr 13, 2015 |

[Ed Source] New agency to support schools still taking shape

California’s newest but still unformed state education agency took a small step closer to becoming operational when its five board members met for an all-day meeting in Sacramento Monday. But what the agency will actually do and how it will function have yet to be determined. The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence was created by Senate Bill 91, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in July 2013 to help school districts carry out the state’s new school financing law and achieve the goals that districts outline in their Local Control and Accountability Plans.
[Reporting on Health] The challenges of reporting on mentally ill kids in California’s juvenile justice system
Apr 14, 2015 |

[Reporting on Health] The challenges of reporting on mentally ill kids in California’s juvenile justice system

Interim chief probation officer Suzanne Collins spent her limited time summarizing her department’s mandate: supervising adult offenders once they exit custody; producing in-depth assessments for the courts to consider at sentencing; and housing juvenile delinquents. While describing this last mission, Collins made the off-hand comment about juvenile hall having turned into a “commitment facility” for mentally ill children with no other place to go. The session
[Wall Street Journal] Suspension, Restorative Justice and Productive Schools
Apr 08, 2015 |

[Wall Street Journal] Suspension, Restorative Justice and Productive Schools

Schools using restorative justice as an alternative to school suspension and other “zero tolerance” practices have been getting better results with their students. Oakland, Calif., schools implementing restorative justice have had a 24% reduction in chronic absenteeism, a 128% increase in ninth-grade reading levels, a 56% decline in the high-school dropout rate, and a 60% increase in the four-year high school graduation rate. So more students are in school, learning and graduating on time.
[Press Enterprise] EDUCATION: Schools eye breakfast in classrooms
Apr 08, 2015 |

[Press Enterprise] EDUCATION: Schools eye breakfast in classrooms

On a recent Friday after the morning school bell, Madison Elementary School teacher Sarah Francis sat at her desk checking homework and preparing for the day. Meanwhile, her 6th-graders read or talked quietly while munching on warm taco-nadas, a breakfast empanada filled with meat and cheese. Then they washed them down with milk. A free breakfast in the classroom has started the day for the Riverside school’s estimated 725 students since August 2012.
[Los Angeles Times] Most Californians support serving breakfast to students during school day
Apr 09, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] Most Californians support serving breakfast to students during school day

California voters strongly support serving breakfast to students during the school day, with most linking a nutritious morning meal to improved academic achievement, according to a new statewide poll. The Field Poll found that two-thirds of California registered voters surveyed supported a proposal to require campuses to serve breakfast during class hours rather than before, as most schools currently do. Three-fourths said breakfast would improve academic performance and favored using existing federal funds to pay for the meals.
[Huffington Post] Right Here In The U.S., Over 1 Million Rural Residents Don't Have Clean Water. Here's Who's Helping
Apr 07, 2015 |

[Huffington Post] Right Here In The U.S., Over 1 Million Rural Residents Don't Have Clean Water. Here's Who's Helping

More than 1 million Californians don’t have access to clean drinking water and it has nothing to do with the historic drought that’s been ravaging the state. California’s severe drought, which entered its fourth year in October, has left communities distraught over cracked lakes and unusable houseboats. But in rural areas, more than 1 million residents have long been struggling to just get access to potable water due to inadequate infrastructure and contaminated water sources, according to nonprofit group Aqua4All. The situation is so grave that many low-income families have no choice but to spend upwards of 10 percent of their incomes on bottled water, because drinking from a contaminated source can lead to cancer, thyroid problems and other serious health issues. Others resort to imbibing sweetened beverages, which are safe for consumption, but are loaded with sugar, which is of particular concern in California where the diabetes rate has increased by 35 percent in the last decade.
[Associated Press] California districts seek to extend waiver of education law
Apr 01, 2015 |

[Associated Press] California districts seek to extend waiver of education law

Six of California's largest urban school districts have applied for a waiver freeing them from requirements of the nation's No Child Left Behind education law. Fresno, Long Beach, LosAngeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Ana unified school districts applied Tuesday for a three-year extension of a waiver first granted in 2013 to a coalition of California districts after the state chose not to request a waiver. The U.S. Department of Education began granting waivers to the Bush-era law in 2012 as talks to reauthorize No Child Left Behind stalled in Congress. The law required all students to test proficient in math and reading by 2014 or face a series of interventions.
[Ed Source] Advocates of state’s parent-trigger law seek to expand its influence
Apr 02, 2015 |

[Ed Source] Advocates of state’s parent-trigger law seek to expand its influence

Five years after California parents gained the power to initiate major changes at failing schools, advocates of the state’s controversial parent-trigger law are expanding their strategies to broaden its influence. Former State Sen. Gloria Romero, the law’s author, founded a nonprofit last year to educate parents about the California Parent Empowerment Act. Even as Romero launched her initiative, another group of parent-trigger-campaign veterans had already started working to develop a more collaborative approach to turning around troubled schools.
[LA School Report] Garcia’s School Climate Committee leads LAUSD’s restorative justice era
Apr 03, 2015 |

[LA School Report] Garcia’s School Climate Committee leads LAUSD’s restorative justice era

Rarely, there’s anything more dry than an LA Unified committee meeting, where the minutia of reports and statistics are vetted before they make their way to the full school board. But as the laboratory for forward-thinking ideas surrounding school discipline,meetings of the Successful School Climate Committee are typically anything but dull. Chaired by board member Monica Garcia, the committee was formed in 2013 not long after the groundbreaking School Climate Bill of Rights was passed. The measure was the first effort by a large school district in the nation to reverse the trend of “zero tolerance” by adopting restorative justice techniques and ending “willful defiance” suspensions and expulsions.
[California Health Report] Central Valley and Rural Northern California Counties Ranked Unhealthiest
Apr 06, 2015 |

[California Health Report] Central Valley and Rural Northern California Counties Ranked Unhealthiest

People living in California’s Central Valley and rural northern counties have the poorest health outcomes in the state, according to a report released last Wednesday. The 2015 County Health Rankings, a nationwide report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ranks counties based on health outcomes. In a ranking that weighs length of life and quality of life equally, Marin County had the best score in the state, followed by Placer, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Orange counties. Sierra County scored lowest on the rating system, followed by Lake, Siskiyou, Trinity and Modoc counties. All California counties were ranked except for Alpine County, which has a population of 1,150 people and did not provide enough data for researchers. In another ranking, called Health Factors, that weighs access to clinical care, the health behaviors of residents, the physical environment and social and economic factors, Marin County again had the best score, followed by Placer, San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. The poorest score in that ranking system went to Imperial County, followed by Tulare, Kern, Fresno and Lake counties. The rankings are based on high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity and teen births, among many other factors.
[The Nation] Fields of Toxic Pesticides Surround the Schools of Ventura County—Are They Poisoning the Students?
Apr 06, 2015 |

[The Nation] Fields of Toxic Pesticides Surround the Schools of Ventura County—Are They Poisoning the Students?

When Dayane Zuñiga started running for Oxnard High School’s track team a few years ago, she often noticed an odd odor coming from the strawberry fields on her route. A farming community between the beach towns of Santa Barbara and Malibu, California, Oxnard is among the largest strawberry-growing regions in the nation. At first, Zuñiga didn’t pay much attention to the smell. Growing up near agriculture, she was used to odd odors. Then one day during practice, Zuñiga saw men working in the fields with face masks and smelled the same odor. Suspecting they were applying chemicals, she wondered why no one had warned her team. She asked her principal if the administration ever got notices about pesticide use around the school, attended by more than 3,200 kids. He told her it did, in accordance with strict regulations, and that she had nothing to worry about. So Zuñiga put pesticides out of her mind. When she smelled a pungent odor, she ran faster to reach a patch of fresh air. When her asthma acted up, she puffed on her mini-inhaler and kept running. Now she wishes she had asked more questions.
[Al Jazeera America] More than 1 million Californians don’t have reliable access to clean water
Apr 06, 2015 |

[Al Jazeera America] More than 1 million Californians don’t have reliable access to clean water

ARVIN, California – Californians who grumble about not being able to water their lawns everyday during the fourth year of a historic drought should swing by this small town in southern Kern County. Drought or no drought, residents of this rural community can’t drink water from the tap and can’t even use it for cooking because high levels of arsenic — known to cause cancer — become even more concentrated when water is boiled. “They worry about little things,” said Salvador Partida, president of the Committee for a Better Arvin, of the rest of the state. “We’re worried about not being able to drink the water.” Last week Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to enact mandatory cuts in water use by 25 percent. But more than 1 million California residents who live in mostly rural areas have unreliable access to safe drinking water, according to the Community Water Center, a non-profit group that advocates affordable and clean water for all Californians. For them, the ongoing drought that is ravaging the state's water supply is merely a sideshow. Tap water that comes mostly from wells in these communities violated maximum contaminant level standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency at least once in 2012 – the most recent annual compliance report by the state’s drinking water program.
[Coachella Independent] Taps That Can Be Trusted: Safe Drinking Water Is Coming to the Eastern Coachella Valley Thanks to the New Agua4All Program
Apr 06, 2015 |

[Coachella Independent] Taps That Can Be Trusted: Safe Drinking Water Is Coming to the Eastern Coachella Valley Thanks to the New Agua4All Program

Agua4All is a program with a catchy, informative name and an inarguably laudable objective: delivering safe drinking water to every resident of the state, regardless of location or income level. The program aims to provide this necessity via its proprietary water-filling stations, which are being installed in schools and community-meeting areas like parks, youth clubs and libraries. For too many Californians, the only accessible source for safe drinking water is commercially sold bottled water—an unaffordable solution for many underprivileged families. Currently in its pilot phase, Agua4All is focusing on disadvantaged communities in southern Kern County—and right here in the eastern Coachella Valley. “The original idea was actually conceived by The California Endowment, which has been the major funder of the program,” said Sarah Buck, rural development specialist for the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), which is charged with supervising and coordinating efforts around this program. “They have given us the opportunity and responsibility of designing it in a way that makes sense. Once this current pilot phase is over, we can replicate it and continue this work throughout all of rural California.” From January through early March, the RCAC ran a fundraising campaign, the second in the last year, on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. Unfortunately, the donation response was dismal, with just $575 raised.
[Ed Source] Stagnant funding hurts after-school programs, survey finds
Mar 30, 2015 |

[Ed Source] Stagnant funding hurts after-school programs, survey finds

Stagnant funding is making it difficult for after-school programs to retain and attract high-quality staff and is reducing the number of enrichment activities, such as field trips or arts programs, offered to low-income students, according to a survey released Monday by the Partnership for Children & Youth. Many after-school programs for elementary and middle school students rely on California’s After School Education and Safety Program, which was implemented in 2006 to provide academic support, exercise and hands-on learning activities for students.
[Southern California Public Radio] With tobacco tax revenues in decline, hunt is on to find another way to fund free preschool
Mar 27, 2015 |

[Southern California Public Radio] With tobacco tax revenues in decline, hunt is on to find another way to fund free preschool

Tobacco tax revenues that pay for California preschool and other early childhood services are steadily declining as users give up smoking, and a scramble is on to find another source of funding. The tale of the shrinking funding source — now down to $350 million this year from $650 million in 1998 — starts at tobacco shops like Drive Thru Cigarettes. Tucked inside a strip mall on Huntington Drive in Duarte, the business and other nearby shops have seen sales drop to a trickle.
Apr 01, 2015 |

Investing in Communities of Color Means Investing in ME

A few weeks ago one of our Health Equity Fellows, Jessica Fuentes, blogged about how her experiences growing up shaped her definition of leadership. I want to continue this series of introductory blogs by talking about one of the projects I am currently...
[Newsweek] Fighting to Reclaim the Future of Oakland's Young Black Men
Mar 26, 2015 |

[Newsweek] Fighting to Reclaim the Future of Oakland's Young Black Men

The Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement is housed in a one-story portable classroom in the downtown neighborhood of Grand Lake. There are few windows in the barely glorified bunker, which may be for the best: They would just let in the incessant hum of the adjacent MacArthur Freeway. The only bathroom is across a parking lot, which is lined with a phalanx of similar portables painted a deceptively alluring sky-blue. It is somehow fitting that the highway thrums but a few feet away—maybe it reminds those who work here that the goal is to whisk the city's young out of Oakland, to Silicon Valley, to San Francisco, to any place that is better than this place that they have always known. About three miles to the north, at 809 57th Street, is the former home of 1960s radical Bobby Seale, a modest bungalow that sold three years ago for $425,000. In 1966, the year he helped start the Black Panther Party, Seale and fellow founder Huey Newton drafted a 10-point program for the black power movement in the dining room of that house. The fifth of those demands concerned schooling: “We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.”
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