The November meeting was all about education. West Contra Costa County Unified School District (WCCUSD) board representative Todd Groves was under the weather and the WCCUSD Board President Madeline Kronenberg addressed the Club. The two main topics she addressed were the new common core standards and the new State funding formula for local schools. In her 30-year tenure as an educator and her time on the School Board, she’s never experienced more sweeping change in the education arena.
The new Common Core standards refocus teachers’ curriculum on critical thinking. In the past, teachers taught to the standardized tests. The tests were flawed because it only awarded memorization instead of understanding the “why,” providing explanations and cogent arguments. These new standards are incorporated into the WCCUSD five-year strategic plan. California discontinued using the old tests this year and is focusing on training teachers in the new curriculum. As a result, the Secretary of Education is threatening to withhold federal education funding from the State.
The way local school districts receive education funding from the State is also brand new. Governor Brown attached “local control funding” to the last budget which provides more money to school districts who have a higher concentration of students receiving free or reduced-price meals, English learners and foster youth. Sixty-six percent of students in WCCUSD fall into this group which translates into $109 million more in funding for the district over the next 10 years. To receive this funding, the District must draft a Local Control Accountability Plan that outlines how the money will be spent on the targeted student population.
Also at the meeting, the Club voted to endorse the following statement, “We support the diplomatic efforts pursing an agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, and oppose additional sanctions while Iran cooperates fully with the United States.”