Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Glazer’s “California Promise” bill to improve four-year graduation rates at CSU campuses

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Bill, which offers priority registration and academic advising to students, passes key legislative hurdle

Sacramento, CA – The Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Sen. Steve Glazer’s groundbreaking legislation to smooth the way for California State University students to graduate in four years.

Senate Bill 412, establishing the “California Promise,” proposes to boost CSU’s 4-year graduation rate which, at 18.6 percent, is 25 percent lower than the national average for comparable public universities. Some CSU campuses’ four-year graduation rates hover at or below 10 percent.

Glazer’s bill was jointly-authored with Senate President Pro Tem, Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. It now awaits further action in the Senate.

“This legislation will allow CSU students to break through the logjam that has left too many students with graduation roadblocks and high debt,” said Glazer, D-Orinda, a former CSU Trustee.

Senator de Leon said: “Since 2015, the Senate has fought for access, affordability and completion for California students in higher education. SB 412 is an important piece of this agenda. I am proud to joint-author this bill, which will help California students, particularly those from low-income families, complete college in four years.”

Under the California Promise program, CSU students would be offered priority registration and academic advising as long as they commit to completing 30 semester units each year and meet any other guidelines set by individual campuses.

Low-income, underrepresented or first-generation college students who fulfill the requirements would be guaranteed admission into California Promise programs. Qualified community college transfer students would also be guaranteed slots in the California Promise.

CSU Trustees would be required to develop and implement a California Promise program at a minimum of eight CSU campuses and at 15 CSU campuses for qualifying transfer students beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. More campuses would be added in future years.

CSU students and their families pay up to $26,000 per year in tuition, books and living expenses for every extra year in college, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity.

“We know that our CSU leadership is committed to student success,” Glazer said. “The California Promise will add to the effort, giving students the tools and setting a pathway for better results.

“This program’s success will save students and their families hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” Glazer added. “It will free up seats for new students, save the state money and get better qualified students into the workforce sooner. It is projected that we will be one million degrees short in meeting industry demand in the next ten years. This program will help us meet that need.”

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Local news website publisher, Mike Burkholder, announces campaign for Antioch School Board

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
Mike Burkholder

Mike Burkholder

Mike Burkholder, publisher of the local news website eastcountytoday.net, announced his candidacy Tuesday for a seat on the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees in the November 8th election.

He released the following statement:

I am running for Antioch Unified School Board because I am a concerned parent and taxpayer. My wife and I are excited that we will have two children in the District this year; but I recognize that the school district faces multiple challenges and needs leaders, not politicians to get it going in the right direction. Improving the community starts and ends with improving the schools.

One of my top priories is student and teacher safety. Not only should I have peace of mind while my children are at school, but the entire community should have that same peace of mind. We must find better ways to address high-risk youth while working to encourage them to go down the right path.

Equally important is improving the way the District communicates with the public. Given my background as publisher of www.eastcountytoday.net, I know public outreach is an area that will be addressed immediately and improved through improving outreach opportunities. Parents deserve to know what is going on in our schools regardless if it’s good, bad or ugly.

Finally, teachers and staff who are doing great work should be rewarded for their efforts, we must work on creative ways to improve district morale and incentivize staff to ensure we can retain and attract quality teachers.

As an East County leader, and a parent, I would like the opportunity to make a difference on the Antioch Unified School District Board and would appreciate your support.

The Antioch Unified School District includes all of Antioch and portions of both Oakley and Pittsburg.

This is Burkholder’s second run for public office, having run unsuccessfully for the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board in Oakley in 2012.

So far, he is one of seven candidates who have pulled the required filing papers to run, including incumbent Diane Gibson-Gray, appointed incumbents Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, former school board member Joy Motts and two others, James Beck and Crystal Sawyer White. Only Burkholder, Gibson-Gray and Terry have filed their papers, as of Monday. Candidates have until this Friday, August 12, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. to file with the County Elections Office in Martinez. If one of the incumbents does not file, the filing period is extended five calendar days to Wednesday, August 17th.

For more information about Burkholder’s campaign visit www.facebook.com/burkforausd where his slogan is “A Voice For All” or email him at burk4ausd@gmail.com.

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Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year from Antioch, Brentwood featured at education summit

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

On Friday, July 29, Contra Costa County educators were well represented as presenters at CSU East Bay, for the second annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit. Opening the program was Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Deputy Superintendent Pamela Comfort, Ed.D. and the county’s current Teachers of the Year Maria McClain (Antioch Unified School District) and Kate Perry (Liberty Union High School District).

The California Teachers Summit is a free statewide day of learning and networking that is open to all California PreK-12 teachers, teacher candidates, school administrators, and other educators. One of 38 locations across the state, CSU East Bay welcomed hundreds of Bay Area teachers to share ideas, join a teacher network, and learn effective strategies for implementing the new California Standards in their classrooms. The Summit featured keynote addresses by education leaders, TED-style EdTalks presented by local teachers, and Edcamp discussions on timely topics such as the California Standards in English/Language Arts and Math, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

In the early afternoon, Perry and McClain, together, presented a stimulating EdTalk session to all the attending educators. The audience was in full attention as the two gave real-life stories on how they learned to reach some of their most challenging students through the years.

“As we celebrate this day of learning, we want to emphasize the essential lessons that our students can teach us, if we take the time to listen and learn,” McClain said. “Lisa and Lisbeth [student examples] made Kate and I better teachers. They taught us that we must meet students where they are, not where we expect them to be, and then work to support and guide them. We must broaden our focus beyond content acquisition and understand that achievement for all students can only occur once their primary needs are met. California’s new standards represent significant changes in educational content and practice. Successful implementation requires both students and teachers to stretch outside their comfort zones, take risks, and embrace new ideas. As we work to adjust our course content and teaching practices, we must also focus on building classroom environments that are safe, welcoming, and truly value all students.”

Perry also offered her comments.

“Now we know how complicated teaching is, and the many daily pressures that face us all,” she said. “And in the face of these we have both learned that the key to staying in the profession is our connection to our students and colleagues. So, if you take nothing else away from us, today, please remember, listen to your students, listen to your fellow teachers, and find mentors like Maria – people who will listen, support, and challenge you. We all – teachers, students, parents, and administrators – have so much to learn and share with one another and that only happens when we open ourselves to the people around us and really hear what they have to say.”

In addition to, CSU East Bay, Summit locations in the Bay Area include:

  • Brandman University, Walnut Creek
  • St. Mary’s College of California
  • CSU Monterey Bay
  • San Francisco State University
  • Sonoma State University

More information, a list of event locations, and online registration is available at CATeachersSummit.com. Follow #CATeachersSummit for up-to-date information.

 

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Grandparents assist grandchildren in Antioch math program

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Instructors for the Math Intensive Program, currently operating a summer session in Antioch, are used to working with students of different ages and grade levels.  But, unique to their classes, students attending are sometimes separated by generations.

Grandmothers, eager to assist their grandchildren with their math homework once school begins, are working alongside their grandchildren learning the same concepts, techniques, and procedures that the instructors use to help the elementary, middle, and high school students who take the class in order to rapidly increase their math skills.

Pam Thomas, grandmother of Khaaliq, who just finished his 6th grade year at Black Diamond Middle School, has been attending the program since the summer session began in early June.  Since then, she has attended almost daily…even on days when her grandson is absent.  Progressing rapidly through the program, she now assists other students, as well as her grandchild.

“I am happy to have my grandson in this program,” Thomas stated. “There is nothing more important than his education.  It’s not always easy, but it is definitely worth it.  I also get to learn as he is leaning, so I can be more effective at teaching him, as well as the other students.  Education is at the very top of the list of priorities for me.”

Angel Luevano, the Administrative Director for Math Intensive, is proud of all the students that are attending, but he’s especially pleased with the grandparents taking the class.

“I’m very happy to see these grandparents sitting in on our classes, and learning alongside their grandchildren,” he said. “This is evidence of the importance they place on the value of a good education and the level of commitment they are willing to make to ensure their students’ success.  Intergenerational programs such as this add tremendous value to our entire community.”

The Math Intensive Program will continue every week day through August 12 at Delta Bay Church of Christ, 913 Sunset Drive, in Antioch.  There are two sessions a day, one from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and another from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  The cost for attendance is $30 per 3-hour session.  For more information, contact John Crowder at 925-628-4033, or stop by Delta Bay Church during one of their sessions.

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Antioch School Board votes to hire Stephanie Anello as new superintendent on split vote

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
New Antioch schools Superintendent Stephanie Anello smiles to the applause of the audience following the vote to hire her by the Board, at their meeting, Wednesday night, June 22, 2016.

New Antioch schools Superintendent Stephanie Anello smiles to the applause of the audience, along with Trustee Alonzo Terry, following the vote to hire her by the Antioch School Board, at their meeting, Wednesday night, June 22, 2016.

By Allen Payton

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 22, the Antioch School Board finalized the process for hiring a new superintendent for the district by voting 3-1-1 to hire Interim Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

Four of the board members spent months working to fill the position made vacant by the early, what some believe was the forced, retirement of Dr. Don Gill, by hiring of a search firm at the cost of $29,000, reviewing 20 applicants and interviewing seven of them and multiple, closed sessions deliberating. They finally settled on Anello as the consensus candidate and spent more time in closed door meetings negotiating her salary and compensation package and announced their selection on June 13.

The newest board member, Alonzo Terry, was appointed in May but didn’t take his seat until June 8, after a required one month provisional appointment period had passed, so he was unable to participate in any board meetings until then. He was the one vote to abstain.

Before the vote, two members of the public spoke.

“At this point, as part of the city council…I think you made an excellent choice,” said Antioch Councilwoman Mary Rocha, who is a former school board member.

Another resident spoke about Anello, as well.

“She’s always willing to give you the time and listen,” said Nayeli Salazar. “She’s always kept her word. I just want to thank her for all of that.”

Then the board members offered their comments about Anello, the contract and the process.

“A lot of work went into this contract…given the budget numbers,” said Board Member Debra Vinson. “This board’s looking at a level of high accountability. I’m looking forward to working with Ms. Anello. We’re behind the eight ball. I’m hoping we can push the reset button.”

“I’d like to echo those words,” stated Board Vice President Walter Ruehlig. “The process was very rigorous…where neither party was really happy.

“That’s an indication it was fruitful. Stephanie has had a 24-year probation with the district,” he continued to with a chuckle, and laughter from the audience. “I’ve heard this was pre-ordained, rigged. All I can do is laugh. We all went in with a completely open mind. If we could have found a better candidate, we would have chosen them in a heartbeat.”

Terry stated he wasn’t on the board during the process and “I have to depend and count on my colleagues.”

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray argued in favor of the contract, comparing the financial components with those paid to Gill.

“I said the cream would have to rise to the top,” she said. “We spent $29,000 on Leadership Associates and it rose to the top.”

She then shared the figures of a $250,000 salary for Gill, compared to $225,940 for Anello; a car allowance of $5,400 for Gill compared to $3,600 for Anello, “tel com” expense of $1,500 and bonus of $7,500 for Gill compared to zero in both categories for Anello.

Vinson offered additional comments.

“We had several very qualified candidates,” she stated. “We tried to do what’s in the best interest of the district. We hope to…really move forward.”

Terry then offered more comments on the contract, as well.

“It was difficult for me,” he shared. “We did a comparison. We hit her with some hardballs. I was surprised she took it. I was shocked.”

Vinson also argued for the contract.

“Look at the contract,” Vinson added. “Look at the details. If there was a difficulty (with the previous superintendent) there was 24 months. We limited that to nine months,” referring to the severance package portion of the contract.

Ruehlig then stressed another difference in Anello’s contract.

“Stephanie agreed to a two-year contract,” he said. “Standard in the industry is four years.”

Navarro then offered a different point of view and a critique of the process.

“I’m the one vote that’s not in support,” he stated. “It was not a predestined decision. I did try to warn the board if we did have an internal candidate to save the money.

“We lost a board member. I asked the board…we should accelerate to appoint the seat,” Navarro added, referring to the vacancy created by former member Claire Smith who resigned abruptly in March. “We went along with a four-member instead of a five-member (board).”

“My support is a thousand percent with Stephanie,” he continued, but said his opposition “is because of the issue of the contract. I applaud the board’s austerity. The numbers are generous. Superintendent salaries average $149,000 to $189,000 nationwide. We’re temporary custodians making long term decisions. It’s very generous with regards to the district. We’re in decline (referring to declining enrollment, which was reported earlier in the meeting).”

“Mine’s more of a vote to a clear conscience,” he concluded.

Ruehlig responded.

“I respect that,” he said. “I’ve always respected Fernando. There was no guarantee Stephanie was going to accept the position. We truly didn’t know. We had a long, long final session…to get to the final decision. It was a prudent decision.”

Vinson also offered additional arguments in favor of Anello and the contract.

“We had several qualified candidates,” she reiterated. “I understand Mr. Navarro’s position because I was there.”

She then spoke of two other candidates presented by the search firm and that they had to “look at what’s in the best interest of the district” and “a fit for the district.”

“To be a team player, sometimes you have to let your ideas go,” Vinson added.

Navarro responded.

“This is a team operation,” he said. “To have a full board, to not rush into anything like this.”

Then following their comments, Gibson-Gray, Ruehlig and Vinson voted in favor of the contract and to hire Anello, Navarro voted against, and Terry voted to abstain.

“All I can say is congratulations,” stated Gibson-Gray, after the vote and during the applause of the audience.

Anello responded.

“I’m just really honored to serve the district in this capacity,” she said. “I thank you for the opportunity and look forward to continuing the work that is going on in the district and…some long overdue changes.”

“If at the end of two years, if we find we’re not good dance partners, then the board has the opportunity to make a decision, then,” she added. “I never want to be a block.”

“We look forward to two years, if not more,” Gibson-Gray responded, which drew laughter from the audience.

A press release from the district, on June 13th, announced the board’s selection:

“After a full search using Leadership Associates, the board selected Ms. Anello not only due to her extensive experience during her 18 years of employment with Antioch Unified School District, but also her seven months of on-the-job accomplishments as the Interim Superintendent.

Her experience in AUSD as a classroom Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Director, Associate Superintendent and Interim Superintendent, makes Anello uniquely qualified to lead the District.

Since taking the helm in November, Anello has successfully negotiated teacher and classified contracts, taken decisive action to integrate Special Education students into current and new AUSD programs by opening the Bidwell Center and has made several difficult decisions to better align spending with current revenues.

Additionally, during the last seven months she has successfully ensured that District initiatives are more publicly transparent. While doing so, she has adeptly employed positive social media, and established robust media relationships and city partnerships to highlight the many positive activities happening in our schools.

Ms. Anello has lived in the community since 1990. She has two adult sons, both of whom attended AUSD schools.”

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Antioch School Board announces Stephanie Anello as Superintendent finalist

Monday, June 13th, 2016
Stephanie Anello

Stephanie Anello

Stephanie Anello, Interim Superintendent for Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), has been named as a finalist for the District’s number one position – Superintendent. The Board will consider a contract for Anello at their June 22nd meeting.

There were twenty qualified candidates, seven of whom were interviewed by the board. After a full search using Leadership Associates, the board selected Ms. Anello not only due to her extensive experience during her 18 years of employment with Antioch Unified School District, but also her seven months of on-the-job accomplishments as the Interim Superintendent.

Her experience in AUSD as a classroom Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Director, Associate Superintendent and Interim Superintendent, makes Anello uniquely qualified to lead the District.

Since taking the helm in November, Anello has successfully negotiated teacher and classified contracts, taken decisive action to integrate Special Education students into current and new AUSD programs by opening the Bidwell Center and has made several difficult decisions to better align spending with current revenues.

Additionally, during the last seven months she has successfully ensured that District initiatives are more publicly transparent. While doing so, she has adeptly employed positive social media, and established robust media relationships and city partnerships to highlight the many positive activities happening in our schools.

“Stephanie Anello is a respected educator and leader with a proven track record of implementing

reforms and improving student achievement,” said Antioch USD Board President, Diane Gibson-Gray. “She has fostered strong parent and community partnerships as well as strong relationships with AUSD’s employee groups; all of which publically endorsed her for the position. These strong relationships coupled with her vision for AUSD, will allow Stephanie to more quickly and efficiently continue the district’s forward momentum while at the same time making necessary changesto move the District forward.”

Ms. Anello has lived in the community since 1990. She has two adult sons, both of whom attended AUSD schools.

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Antioch student graduates with Masters from Tulane University

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Jared Clay from his Facebook page.

Jared Clay from his Facebook page.

New Orleans, LA (Grassroots Newswire) June 6, 2016 – Tulane University awarded degrees to nearly 3,000 graduates on May 14, 2016 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Local student, Jared Clay of Antioch, graduated from the School of Liberal Arts with a Master of Arts degree. The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Hoda Kotb, co-host of NBC’s Today show who also received a Tulane President’s Medal. Honorary degrees were given to renowned artist Lynda Benglis and Christopher Paola, a world leader in the study of earth surface processes, particularly in river and delta regions.

The Deer Valley High grad, Clay and fellow class members were honored at the ceremony, which included all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional commencement but with a New Orleans twist, including herald trumpets, and a second-line jazz  procession. Music was provided by Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band, jazz singer Topsy Chapman and Tulane a capella group Green Envy.

Tulane University is one of the nation’s leading educational and research institutions. Founded in 1834 in New Orleans, Tulane has ten schools and colleges offering degrees in architecture, business, law, liberal arts, medicine, public health and tropical medicine, the sciences and
engineering, and social work.

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John Muir Health contributes to Antioch, Deer Valley High Schools’ “Safe and Sober Grad Night” celebrations

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

John Muir Health announced this week, the donation of $10,000 to local high schools across Contra Costa County. The funds will support programs and services related to the schools’ 2016 “Safe and Sober Grad Night” celebrations, which are held to honor the graduating senior class in a safe environment.

Antioch High and Deer Valley High Schools, as well as 18 other high schools each received a $500 check from John Muir Health to help finance graduation night festivities hosted by the schools, including professional entertainment such as hypnotists, magicians, karaoke, casino games and live DJs.

“As a health care provider in the community with the county’s only trauma center, we’re well aware of the dangers involved with teens driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Kacey Hansen, executive director of Trauma and Transfer Services at John Muir Health.  “This is an important time in their lives and we appreciate the efforts by local high schools to provide an appropriate environment for them to celebrate. The last place we want to see members of the class of 2016 on their graduation night is in one of our hospitals.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of John Muir Health’s trauma center, which cares for critically injured patients in Contra Costa County and parts of Solano and Marin counties. In addition to treating critical injuries, John Muir Health actively works to prevent them. Trauma physicians, nurses and staff are participants in the Every 15 Minutes program to educate high school juniors and seniors about drinking and driving and the impact their decisions have on family, friends and other members of their community. John Muir Health also participates in Beyond Violence, an intervention program for trauma patients treated at the medical center between the ages of 14-25 who are victims of intentional injuries (e.g. gunshot, knife assault) and reside in West or East Contra Costa County. Support for Safe and Sober Grad Nights is another form of injury prevention.

The other high schools receiving donations included: Acalanes High School, Alhambra High School, California High School, Campolindo High School, Clayton Valley Charter High School, College Park High School, Concord High School, El Cerrito High School, Freedom High School, Heritage High School, Las Lomas High School, Liberty High School, Miramonte High School, Monte Vista High School, Northgate High School, Pittsburg High School, San Ramon Valley High School and Ygnacio Valley High School.

About John Muir Health

John Muir Health is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit health care organization east of San Francisco serving patients in Contra Costa, eastern Alameda and southern Solano Counties. It includes a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians, nearly 6,000 employees, medical centers in Concord and Walnut Creek, including Contra Costa County’s only trauma center, and a Behavioral Health Center. John Muir Health also has partnerships with San Ramon Regional Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Children’s Health to expand its capabilities, increase access to services and better serve patients. The health system offers a full-range of medical services, including primary care, outpatient and imaging services, and is widely recognized as a leader in many specialties – neurosciences, orthopedic, cancer, cardiovascular, trauma, emergency, pediatrics and high-risk obstetrics care.

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