Gov. Brown signs strict school vaccine legislation

California Jerry Brown has signed legislation on Tuesday in Sacramento to approve one of the most strictest school vaccine laws in the country.

The bill will require nearly all schoolchildren to be vaccinated, with Brown saying science has shown that vaccines do wonders to protect students.

Read the entire article HERE.

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SUSD trip to Vegas cleared up

Earlier this week, I was handed a hand-written note that was sent to the newsroom with no return address.

200 Stockton Unified employees went to Las Vegas. Is this supposed to help educate the students?” is all it read.

Now, before you start picturing teachers and administrators sitting at slot machines and throwing television sets out a hotel room window at The Bellagio, in reality, the Vegas trip is in fact helping educate students.

A group of 200 teachers, counselors and principals from Stockton Unified took part in a Professional Learning Communities conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, explained district spokeswoman Dianne Barth in an email.

While seeing the words “teachers,” “education,” and “Vegas” together in a sentence is certainly worth a slight head tilt, the conference is dedicated to professional development for educators set in a group setting.

High performing districts have board members attend so they can build shared knowledge. Teachers and principals can collaborate ideas and are asked questions such as “What are you trying to teach? How do you know if your students learned and understood the material you taught? What do you do if they did not? What do you do next if they did get it?

“This conference is popular because the teachers who have gone before have come back saying they got a lot out of it,” said Barth. Stockton Unified has attended the PLC conference for the last three years and she said Lodi is another district that does the same.

“The trip is approved for those attending from individual schools and costs for attendance were paid out of categorical funds targeted for professional development school site councils,” Barth wrote.

Edison High School Principal Brian Biedermann said his school has been practicing the PLC process for six years and he has taken a majority of his staff to PLCs conferences. He agrees that there’s nothing quite like the renewed energy, commitment, and shared knowledge created, and Edison is always excited to participate.

“I can see how some could view conferences in Vegas as a waste of time. That is a narrow minded view,” said Edison High School Principal in an email.

“My team has several pre-planning meetings (to prep for the conference) and we meet several times when we return to capture our learning and prepare our action plans for the coming year.”

It’s far from lounging poolside and sharing a vodka-cranberry with a Playboy bunny.

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Madison Elementary to receive musical instruments from grant

Madison Elementary Mariachi Band teacher Victoria Smith, left, instructs Gerardo Diaz, 10, center, and Jesse Magana, 12, with their guitarron during a practice at the Stockton school. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

In a press release sent on Friday, the school’s mariachi band will be given six vihuelas, six guitarons, three 4/4 violins, two refurbished vihuelas and two refurbished guitarons.

The retail value comes to $16,789.

“This generous grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation will help ensure the continued mission of Madison mariachi to provide a quality music education to its students,” Madison principal Josh Schroeder said in a statement.

“In doing so, the grant will enable a greater number of students to participate in this vital program. Without HOPF support, the mariachi students of Madison would find this journey a far greater challenge.”

Record reporter Elizabth Roberts wrote a piece last year about the mariachi band HERE.

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CAVA’s response to teacher complaints

Teachers from the online charter school California Virtual Academies (CAVA) filed complaints yesterday to bring to light what they say are several questionable practices to improper use of federal funds that affect thousands of their students.

San Joaquin County area teachers were not the only ones, as several other locations throughout California filed more than 50 complaints to their separate sponsoring districts. New Jerusalem Elementary School District sponsors the SJC location.

The complaints range from alleged violations of both state and federal laws; over-reporting enrollment numbers; counting students who cut class in attendance figure;, poor academic performance and graduation rates for the past few years and more.

New Jerusalem School District Superintendent David Thoming said in a phone interview yesterday that although he has received the complaints, he has yet to fully digest the full extent of those complaints and will offer a response to those teachers once he has finished his review.

On Friday, CAVA’s Head of School Katrina Abston sent a press release to address the complaints.

She said in the statement that CAVA the recent allegations are “without merit” and that each of the 11 schools have worked with independent external auditors and were found to have clean audit reports.

Thoming said practically the same thing: “Every year CAVA goes though these audits and every year they come back clean,” he said, “I have state auditors saying one thing and teachers with questionable complains saying the other.”

One of the complaints issued was the lack of attention to special need students, Abston in a statement said similar issues were raised by other labor organizations before the California Department of Education, which were eventually dismissed.

“CAVA will continue its practice of full cooperation with authorities and vigorously defend against these meritless allegations,” Abston stated.

Meanwhile in Tracy, Superintendent Thoming says teachers claiming he and his district have blown the teachers off too many times is simply false. He repeated once he goes over the pages of complaints, he will work with the CAVA teachers to fix the issues brought up.

“My door is always open,” he said.

You can read the full press release HERE.

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New public charter school to open in September

A new public charter school will open in San Joaquin County this fall.

The Academy, part of the family of Delta Charter Schools, will start holding classes in September. The campus will also be located between Delta College and the University of the Pacific, at 722 W. March Lane near the March and Pacific Avenue Intersection.

The Academy will offer sports science and college prep courses for K-12 students and was co-founded by retired San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mick Founts, and Delta Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Tilton.

Only a few miles away on 703 E. Swain in Stockton is another new member in the Delta Charter family tree: Delta Bridges Charter will open their doors in August to have students K-8.

Read more about the pair of new charter schools here:


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Scholarship awards $65,000 to graduating seniors

Twenty graduating seniors from various San Joaquin County high schools have racked up a total of $65,000 in scholarships from the Friedberger Educational Fund.

High schools represented include Stockton Early College Academy, Cesar Chavez, Stockton Collegiate International Schools and Franklin.

To view the complete list of students awarded this scholarship, click on the PDF file below.

2015 Friedberger Scholarship

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Another Lincoln yearbook omission

I received a nice email on Thursday from a parent, who started off saying the dress code policy controversy at Lincoln High School was unacceptable and should not be taken lightly. Both of which are true.

Those two students deserve as much respect as anyone else. This is 2015 after all.

But there also seems to be another glaring omission from the Lincoln yearbook as this parent pointed out: a group photo of the school Marching Band was nowhere to be found within the pages. I should point out too that the writer is a band booster parent.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

“The omission of a band group photo is unacceptable to me,” wrote the parent. “There are seniors in the band that made memories in their last year of high school and will not be recognized as a band member in a yearbook photo.”

“Not to mention the cost of being a band member and all the time and effort these kids put into their music to represent Lincoln in the most honorable way.”

I’m not exactly sure what in the world was going on in that yearbook class, but that 200+ person band must have felt like those two girls, like they were not apart of Lincoln High and might as well have not existed either.

While the yearbook wouldn’t publish their group photo for whatever reason, I feel like the next best thing I could do is post them here.

My only hope this that the Lincoln yearbook staff is fixed and something like this doesn’t happen again.

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Lincoln Unified to recieve California Mathematics and Science Partnership (CaMSP) grants

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced 28 school districts will share nearly $18.2 million in California Mathematics and Science Partnership (CaMSP) grants to enhance math and science instruction for disadvantaged students on Thursday.

“These grants will provide educators the support they need to teach California’s rigorous new standards to our most vulnerable students,” said Torlakson in a statement. “By enhancing the teaching and learning of math and science, students will gain the skills they need to prepare for college and 21st century careers in our high-tech economy.”

CaMSP is a federal grant administered by the state, designed to help local school districts partner with other education groups. These groups must be interested in providing professional development for teachers in math and science, but also technology and engineering, collectively known as STEM. In order to qualify for the grant, at least 40 percent of the districts’ students must be low-income.

Of the 28 districts sharing the $18.2 million in funding, 25 of the districts competed for new funding and were selected based on the quality of their plans to improve math and science education. The remaining three districts were awarded continued funding based on the success of their existing programs. In the group or “cohort” 9 winners, their projects offered teachers 60 hours of intensive instruction in how to better teach math and science, and 24 hours of follow-up coaching.

Lincoln Unified School District is the only district in San Joaquin County on the list. The district will receive $600,000. For a list of the other recipients, click here.

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Business Awards Scholarships to Business-Minded Grads

Twenty-two graduates interested in pursuing careers in the world of business have some valuable help obtaining their goals with the 2014-15 CB Merchant Services Business Scholarship.

CB Merchant Services donated $11,000 for the scholarships paid out through the San Joaquin County Office of Education Educational Foundation. The scholarship will be shared among the 22 participating high schools in San Joaquin County. One student from each high school is nominated for a $500 scholarship.

In choosing the winners, the graduating senior must have shown interest in obtaining a college education in business or business-related major.

The awardees from San Joaquin County are as followed:

  • Thomas Thrush, Jr., Bear Creek High School
  • Erandi Albor, Caser Chavez High School
  • Matthew Bacuyani, East Union High School
  • Alexander Woods, Edison High School
  • Shelby Cornett, Escalon High School
  • Adriana Ozornio Caballero, Franklin High School
  • Kshitij Shah, John C. Kimball High School
  • Michael Li, Lathrop High School
  • Mark Russell, Lincoln High School
  • Emilia Garliepp, Linden High School
  • Jahred Nunes, Lodi High School
  • Christopher Iorio, Manteca High School
  • Christian Barrios, Marrill F. West High School
  • Amandip Singh, Ripon High School
  • Alexis Lee, Ronald E. McNair High School
  • Jakob Gallagher, Sierra High School
  • Michelle McGuire, St. Mary’s High School
  • Ali Khan, Stagg High School
  • Wilhem Kautz, Tokay High School
  • Salma Price, Tracy High School
  • Jonathon Mendez, Venture Academy Family of Schools
  • Edgar Huizar, Weston Ranch High School

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Words of wisdom to incoming college freshmen

First off, I want to take a second to introduce myself and how I found myself working at The Record.

My name is Nicholas and I am one of three new reporters joining The Record’s newsroom in 2015. I was born on California soil, down south in Laguna Beach and my younger brother was born five years up over in Modesto. While I do say I grew up in Portland, Oregon for all of my schooling and college, I frequently visited Lodi and Stockton on vacations and holidays as family on my father’s side has resided in San Joaquin County for over 45 years.

After getting my degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), I moved with my family 2,000 miles across the country to Nashville, Tennessee of all places. For an entire year, I worked as a part-time reporter for an online media company based in Franklin, a.k.a “The Best Small Town in America.” A majority of my work was spent typing up news releases from home, and going to film high school football games.

Looking for something more meaningful and full-time, I replied to a posting at The Record for a reporter job. Fast forward to late April, and I sat down at my first desk, at my first ever newsroom position and it’s already been a month.

It’s crazy how fast time goes by.

As the new education reporter, I am taking over the position from Elizabeth Roberts, who has moved back to the copy editor desk, and then former reporter Keith Reed (Although I do claim Reed’s old office number, you now will reach me instead, and I apologize if I know nothing about a story he wrote about years ago). They sure left big shoes to fill covering education in San Joaquin County and I will work my tail off to cover what needs to be covered.

One of my first assignments here was to gather information regarding 26+ high schools in the area for our Grad Boxes. I would call offices numerous times asking details for the date, time and location of the ceremony, names of the valedictorian and such.

Doing this, it reminded me about my high school graduation from Southridge High in Beaverton, Oregon. I am the Class of 2008, and reading that to me sounds incredibly ancient. Back then I sort-of had an idea of what I wanted to do and where to go, but I took the community college road first that following September. Three years later, I worked hard enough to transfer two hours south to the beautiful college campus in Eugene. On a rain soaked afternoon in June 2014, I was handed my college diploma.

I look back on the first night I spent  in the dorms and I will admit it was rough.

Really rough.

I had grown so accustomed to living at home while taking classes during the day, sleeping in my own bed in a quiet room and just being in my house with familiar surroundings.

The sudden change of being dropped off in really, unknown territory, with hundreds of people you don’t know, was frightening. Now I had to fend for myself to get food, had to deal with a roommate and living in a loud dorm hall.

I know some of you who are packing up and heading to college nearby might be ready for the change and the experience, and some of you may not be so eager and will need time.

Take it from me. Don’t fret.

Every new experience is pretty scary in the beginning.

Give yourself a good solid month and you’ll be in a routine. You will meet some of the greatest (and not so greatest) people in the world that otherwise, you will have never had the chance to meet. All of my closest friends now are those I have met in college and I can’t think of life without them.

Sure you will miss your hometown friends, your parents, siblings, pets and things that make you feel safe and comfortable. But in time, you will be looking forward to coming back to campus and living on your own, making your own decisions. Want to have ice cream for lunch? Knock yourself out. Just one more game of Madden before reading those 50 pages of economics? Your mom isn’t around anymore to say no.

The freedom you will soon discover is something else. You finally feel like an adult, but be smart about it. This is still school. It’s a whole new level. College is a place now that can really weed out those who want a college degree and those who don’t.

Just remember to when you first sit down at your seat on the morning of your first college class and take it in. Take it in. Look around and tell yourself, you’re in college! You made it this far. Now it’s up to you to make up how you’ll use your time there.

Enjoy yourself. Congratulations to all of San Joaquin’s graduating Class of 2015.

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