March 18, 2014

By Rigel Massaro

Our Education Team has seen developments in a number of areas recently. Here’s a quick update.

LCFF Regulations

Public Advocates submitted comments on proposes permanent regulations for theLocal Control Funding Formula (LCFF). We expect the State Board of Education will consider approval of the regs in July or September of this year. We played a leadership role in drafting the March 17th comments in collaboration with of a broad coalition of civil rights, community-based, and other organizations committed to equitable LCFF implementation. In addition, we submitted a similar set of joint comments with the ACLU.

Our coalition letter was signed by 3 dozen organizations representing thousands of parents, students advocates from across the state. It asks the State Board to amend the proposed permanent LCFF regulations and the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) template to ensure that:

  1. Supplemental and concentration funds principally benefit the high-need students who generate the fundsby closing a potential loophole that could allow districts with a majority of high-need students to spend these targeted funds for virtually any purpose.
  2. County offices of education have meaningful oversightto ensure district compliance with LCAP and budgetary statutory and regulatory requirements.
  3. Districts solicit student inputin developing the LCAPs, and
  4. The LCAP contains assurances that districts are creating the conditions necessary for authentic community partnership in LCAP development. That includes provisions concerning transparency around expenditures, engagement of school site councils, needs-assessment and data to accompany the LCAP, accessible template formatting, and stronger guidance around parent advisory committees.

New Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education Will Support Regulation of For-Profits in California

For post-secondary schools to be eligible for Title IV funds, “state authorization” regulations require that:

  1. The institution be approved to operate by the state where they are located, and
  2. Students at that institution have access to a state-run process to review and act on complaints arising under state laws, including laws related to fraud or false advertising—issues that plague the for-profit postsecondary sector.

Unfortunately, many schools misinterpreted guidance from the Department last summer to mean they only needed to meet the first criteria, and were not subject to the second.

Last fall, Public Advocates and our higher education coalition partners argued to the U.S. Department of Education that a post-secondary institution must be subject to a state-run complaint process through which students can raise consumer-type complaints to receive federal student aid.

Last month, the Department issued guidance in response to our request clearly reiterating the complaint process requirement. We anticipate this document will incentivize schools to comply with state authorization by the July 1, 2014 deadline. We also believe it will support our advocacy for strengthening California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which handles complaints from students at many of the state’s for-profit institutions.

English Learner Intern Regulations

Last month, the Office of Administrative Law approved new state regulations issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing governing the support and supervision of intern teachers. These regulations improve the support all interns must receive and, in particular, interns teaching English learners without an English learner authorization. Public Advocates spearheaded this effort and fought hard last year to ensure that all English learners in the state are taught by qualified teachers at a time when intern teachers without English learner training are disproportionally teaching the highest-need students.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing also recently issued a Coded Correspondence to highlight the new requirements. Intern preparation programs must now provide a minimum of 144 hours of support/mentoring and supervision to each intern teacher per school year. Plus they must provide an additional 45 hours of support and supervision to interns teaching English learners without a valid English learner authorization. Through its accreditation activities, the Commission will ensure that intern programs and their partner employers are providing the required support and supervision so that the high-need students and English learners taught by intern teachers receive the support they need to excel in school.

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