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Thursday, October 21, 2021


U.S. News & World Report releases first rundown of elementary and middle schools
U.S. News & World Report is known for its rankings of high schools and colleges, but for the first time ever it’s also released data and rankings for elementary and middle schools. After crunching numbers for more than 80,000 public schools serving students from kindergarten through grade eight, the news outlet announced its 2022 Best K-8 Schools this month, and we spotted a few from Orange County as we scrolled through California’s top-rated campuses.

OC Children’s S.T.E.A.M. reading challenge takes off this week
Although the Orange County Children’s Book Festival won’t be returning for an in-person event this year, festival organizers are partnering with OCDE, Orange County Public Libraries, 4SPACE Co., and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory education department to launch the S.T.E.A.M. Race to Space Reading Challenge. The first-of-its-kind reading challenge takes flight this Friday, Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 12. The challenge is open to all Orange County students in grades TK-12 and local educators and families can sign up to participate at


Fallen grades, stalled learning. L.A. students ‘need help now,’ Times analysis shows
For months, educators have been warning about the devastating effects the pandemic and school closures would have on student academic progress. But a first-of-its-kind Los Angeles Times analysis of data offers a particularly alarming assessment of the impact on L.A. students.

Coronavirus closes first campus in L.A. County, prompting remote learning, football fallout
Coronavirus infections led to the shutdown this week of a campus in Los Angeles County, the first such closure since school opened in the fall — and a situation that also led to the quarantine of a rival high school football team.


About 1,500 LAUSD employees granted accommodations for coronavirus vaccine exemptions
Los Angeles Unified has approved accommodations for approximately 1,500 employees seeking a medical or religious exemption to the district’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff, the district reported on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Accommodations may include assigning employees to remote work, placing them on temporary leave or having them draw down their "benefitted time,” a spokesperson for the district shared in an email.


Hemet students get free glasses, vision care
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, 128 students received eyeglasses, the first of about 28,000 Riverside County children expected to get free vision care in next two years.


California could lose millions in federal money meant for K-12 schools, state audit finds
California might have to forfeit tens of millions of dollars in pandemic relief money meant for schools if the department in charge of distributing funds does not strengthen its oversight of spending, a state auditor says. The audit, released Tuesday, found that California might have to return up to $160 million in federal aid if the state’s Department of Education, referred to as “Education” by the auditor, continues to disburse and monitor federal funds used by K-12 schools the way it is doing it now.


California state auditor urges tighter oversight of how districts spend federal Covid aid
The state auditor criticized the California Department of Education for inadequately monitoring $24 billion in federal Covid relief that is going to school districts and charter schools. Without better oversight, the department won’t know if districts are misapplying the money or wisely using the massive, unprecedented aid, California State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in an audit released Tuesday.

Free film available for schools to help students overcome anxiety
All middle and high schools in California will have access to a free, 43-minute documentary film, discussion guide, classroom exercises, tip sheet and teacher resources to help students who are experiencing anxiety. The film, “Angst: Building Resilience,” covers the causes of anxiety, firsthand accounts from students and advice on how to overcome it. The film is available in English and Spanish, and families can watch it at home.

Los Angeles Unified: Almost all staff have had at least one Covid vaccine dose
Los Angeles Unified reports that almost all of its employees, including 99% of its teachers, have submitted proof they have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. The district — the state’s largest — reports that 97% of all their employees, including 99% of their administrators and 97% of classified administrators, have received the vaccine.

Equity proves elusive in gifted programs, research shows
A lack of equity persists in gifted education, research shows, and as the Hechinger Report notes. In New York City, the difference between gifted and general education is especially stark. White and Asian parents who have the time, resources and motivation to engage in rigorous test preparation for their 4-year-olds tend to see their children excel on standardized tests and therefore dominate more than three-quarters of the coveted seats, although these two groups account for less than a third of all students. Meanwhile, Black and Hispanic students make up more than 65% of the public school system but win only 16% of the gifted seats.


LAUSD sued again over student vaccination mandate
This time, the nation’s second-largest K-12 system, along with interim Superintendent Megan Reilly and all seven school board members, are being sued by the California chapter of the Children’s Health Defense — a group founded by anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — as well as the Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids.


Poway School District offers full benefits for bus drivers during shortage
As with many school districts around San Diego County, bus routes in the Poway Unified School District have been cut this fall because of a shortage of drivers. An aggressive recruitment effort is now underway and benefits are attracting some candidates to consider a career change. The district is short of more than 40-school bus drivers needed to accommodate every student requiring transportation. Most of them are children with special needs.


Marin substitute teacher shortage fuels pay competition
Substitute teachers who are eligible to work in Marin schools are being wooed with higher pay and even waivers on state exams amid a steep shortage of stand-ins.

San Rafael school district hires firm to revive enrollment
The district board has approved a $50,000, five-month contract with San Diego-based Target River Marketing.

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