California’s after-school programs top in nation

Kindergartners Adryana Young, left, and Amiah Banks work in August on a construction paper tree at Maxine Hong Kingston Elementary as part of an arts project in the school's wait-listed after-school program. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

California leads the nation in after-school programs, placing first in a national survey, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday.

The Afterschool Alliance gave California its top ranking in the 2014 edition of its America After 3 p.m. survey, singling the state out for both strong participation among students and high satisfaction with after-school programs among parents. It found that expanded learning participation in California had increased to 25 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2009, with more than 1.6 million students enrolled.

After-school programs provide homework assistance and tutoring, sports and arts activities, as well as a safe place to go after school before parents arrive home from work. Stockton Unified has a robust K-8 program but lost funding at the high school level earlier this year.

“From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the danger zone,” former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, honorary chairman of the Afterschool Alliance, told EdSource.  “Juvenile crime, teenage pregnancy, gangs, alcoholism and drugs cost society a lot of money.”

“Superintendent Torlakson has spearheaded efforts to make California number one in the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “He created a statewide after school initiative within the California Department of Education that has increased quality and access to after school programs across this state. …  From extraordinary STEM programs, to service learning, to its trailblazing literacy programming, California has done an amazing job with afterschool programs.”

California’s expanded learning programs today reach about 4,500 schools around the state. They are, in large part, funded through voter-approved Proposition 49, which guarantees $550 million annually for the state’s After School Education and Safety Program. California administers another $120 million in federal after school program funds, according to the California Department of Education.

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Digital Chalkboard offers wealth of resources for teachers

A new website aimed at teachers offers a virtual meeting place to collaborate, get training to improve their skills, find research, and share best practices so they are better equipped to help students.

Digital Chalkboard has more than 400,000 digital resources, everything from training modules and videos to model lesson plans to researched-based data. Teachers can also use the website to join discussion groups to share success stories and help each other improve their teaching.

“The Digital Chalkboard gives teachers the support they need to become better educators as we embark on exciting changes this year with the Common Core and online testing,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. It is faster and easier to navigate and provides more assistance to teachers who are implementing Common Core as well as consolidating help for teachers who are educating English learners and foster children. It replaces the Brokers of Expertise website.

To access the Digital Chalkboard, visit

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All S.J.’s one. school students to get free lunches

All students at the county’s one. schools will be receiving free lunches regardless of family income, the San Joaquin County Office of Education announced.

“Although there are federal and state guidelines as to who is eligible for free or reduced lunches, we have chosen to provide all students within our program with a free meal,” student services supervisor Jennifer Lawrence said in a statement.

The National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program provides free and reduced price meals for children from households whose income is equivalent or below the levels shown in the accompanying San Joaquin County Office of Education chart.

Children who receive food stamps, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations benefits are automatically eligible for free meals regardless of the income of the household in which they reside.

Application forms are being distributed to all households and are also available at San Joaquin County Office of Education’s County Operated Schools and Programs office, 2707 Transworld Drive, Stockton. For more information, visit

Household eligibility chart

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Galt junior joins inaugural class of Buck Fellows

Galt High School student Madelynne Reichmann has been chosen for the inaugural class of Buck Fellows, made up of juniors in Northern California high schools who rank at or near the top of their classes.

Reichmann, an award-winning debater and leader in Future Farmers of America, wants to become an agriculture teacher or go into business management. She joins four other fellows, from Fair Oaks, Richmond and Sacramento.

In addition to academic achievement, Buck Fellows are selected for leadership and personal initiative, a commitment to helping others succeed and personal resiliency. The students are paired with mentors who provide fellows with guidance on academic and leadership development and the college application process. The BSA also provides each fellow with a stipend for academic enrichment and leadership development programs for their final two years of high school.

“Our fellows come from financially modest backgrounds and don’t have parents who graduated from college,” said Rei Onishi, president of the BSA and co-founder of the Buck Fellows Program. “Yet, in the face of various challenges, they are determined to go as far as they can with the opportunities available to them. By helping cultivate their academic and leadership interests and ensuring they have the guidance and resources necessary to be competitive college applicants, the Buck Fellows Program helps open doors for them and ensure they fully realize their tremendous potential.”

The BSA is a nonprofit organization created to carry on the legacy of the Frank H. and Eva B. Buck Foundation, a private, independent foundation established in 1990 to enlarge the educational opportunities of exceptionally gifted and talented Northern California youth. The foundation has awarded full-tuition scholarships to 282 individuals over two decades. For more information about the organization, contact Onishi at or visit the website

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Health Careers Academy wins Green Your School Giveaway

STOCKTON – Health Careers Academy was recently awarded with three gardening tables through Eartheasy’s Green Your School Giveaway.

The tables will be used to expand the school’s healthy living program, launched three years ago with a grant from the Dr. Oz Foundation, and come just in time for fall planting season.

Health Careers Academy was selected by Eartheasy, whose motto, “Solutions for Sustainable Living” most closely matched the goals as expressed by the students and faculty.

“After reading through the entries, we were so touched by your school’s initiative to help inner-city students learn about gardening and healthy cooking, we knew we had to help,” Blair Mullins of Eartheasy wrote.

The University Park campus. which provides technical education and a college-prep curriculum with an emphasis on health careers, is a charter school of the Stockton Unified School District.  You can learn more about the school on its website at

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Young musicians to perform Saturday

Angelica Romero, 11, left, and Garbrella Rosa, 12, practice in September with other Marshall Elementary students as part of the Harmony Stockton program. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

Students in Marshall Elementary School’s Harmony Stockton project will perform at 2 p.m. Saturday during the Stockton is Magnificent festivities at Victory Park.

The after-school music program, profiled in The Record here, has been shown to profoundly transform young minds, boosting the language and reading skills of at-risk kids and helping them beat the odds of dropping out of school later in life.  It’s based on El Sistema, a visionary music program credited with lifting countless children out of poverty and is a collaboration of Stockton Unified’s Step-Up after-school programs, University of the Pacific, United Way and the Stockton Symphony.

Besides Saturday,  the young musicians will also be playing several other concerts through December. Here’s a schedule of opportunities to hear these amazing young performers this fall:


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Edison High to host free BBQ, parent education forum Thursday

Edison High School will host a parent education forum and free barbecue Thursday evening to share information on everything from academic expectations to college financial aid at the school,1425 S. Center St.

The EduParent night kicks off with a free barbecue at 6 p.m. beneath the cafeteria awning, followed by a generation session at 6:30 p.m. in the library and other sessions throughout the school.

Counseling staff will lead breakout sessions on eligibility requirements for college-bound freshmen and sophomores in the Career Center and for juniors and seniors in the Media Center. A general session for freshmen and sophomores in Room 51 is designed to be an overall view of Edison’s mission, expectations and schoolwide strategies that are used daily for student achievement and will outline ways parents can be more involved. Another for juniors and seniors in room 53 will cover those same topics as well as important tests and a budget of expenses a typical senior student may incur.

Other sessions include:

  • Social Awareness, Room 54, designed to provide parents with information regarding drug abuse, gang prevention, Health Center services and more;
  • AVID parents – all grades, Room 58, for parents of current AVID students, covering expectations, how the AVID Elective class supports college and career readiness, and college and financial aid deadlines. An AVID session in Spanish will be held in Room 59.

Child care will be provided at the Boy’s Gym Toal Hall during the event, which goes from 6 to 8 p.m.


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STA’s unfair practice charge

Here’s a copy of the unfair practice charge the Stockton Teachers Association filed on Sept. 22 with the Public Employment Relations Board against Stockton Unified, which centers around a August 15 switch from the past Social Security number-based teacher evaluation schedule: SA-CE-2775-E Stockton TA v. Stockton USD
And here’s a copy of yesterday’s news release the STA issued through the California Teachers Association:

Stockton Teachers Association
7330 West Lane, Suite 1
Stockton, CA 95210
September 30, 2014
Contact: STA President John Steiner at 209-478-5074FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Teachers File Charges Against City School Board;
State Could Brand Stockton as “Renegade” District
Parents, Teachers to Rally Thursday, Oct. 2, to Press Board to Put Students, Classrooms First


STOCKON – The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the state agency that oversees public sector bargaining, could soon brand the Stockton Unified School District a “renegade” district that is violating the law, instead of bargaining in good faith to reach a contract agreement with its 1,850 educators.

The Stockton Teachers Association has filed charges with PERB that specifically spotlight the district’s failure to bargain in good faith in a contract dispute that has been going on for approximately 36 months. The charge also focuses on the district’s refusal to provide to the public and the Association requested financial information related to contract negotiations. (Case name: Stockton Teachers Association v. Stockton Unified School District. Case number: SA-CE-2775-E).

Parents and teachers are outraged at the district’s bargaining misconduct, which follows the school board’s refusal to make students, classroom instruction, and teachers its top priority. Hundreds are planning to gather on Thursday, October 2, at 3 p.m. for a rally at the Stockton Unified School District’s headquarters (701 N. Madison, Stockton, CA 95202). A mediation session is scheduled to begin at that location at 10 a.m.

“Parents and teachers are outraged at the school district’s refusal to make students its top funding priority and frustrated by its failure to follow the law and work with us to put an end to this bargaining crisis,” said STA President John Steiner. “Our members want to spend our time and energies on helping prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st century, not battling to get the school board to respond to the needs of our students and our classrooms.”

Parents and teachers cite the district’s refusal to invest money from Prop. 30 – the state school funding measure passed in 2012 – to help students and to reduce class size to improve instruction and increase student engagement.

PERB action on the charges could give the Association the right to strike even before the completion of mediation and fact finding. Unions may engage in non-economic strikes – based on employer misbehavior – prior to the completion of regular negotiation procedures. Under normal circumstances, following mediation and fact finding, the district gains the right to implement its “last, best offer” and the Association gains the right to strike.

The Stockton Teachers Association is affiliated with the 325,000-member California Teachers Assocuation and the 3 million-member National Education Association.

Disclaimer: If you do not wish to receive further news/releases from California Teachers Association, please click the following link: [Remove Me]. Requests will take a maximum of 2 business days to process.

Contact information: Erika Sizemore, California Teachers Association, 1705 Murchison Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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Brown vetoes part of truancy legislation package

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday vetoed two bills in a truancy package that Stockton Unified officials had testified on behalf of this spring that would have mandated wider collection and reporting of data on student attendance while signing two others.

The bills the governor approved will add a representative from each local district attorney’s office and public defender’s office to school attendance review boards, which handle truancy cases and have the authority to refer them to law enforcement or other agencies. The other requires prosecutors to report the outcome of adjudicated truancy cases to local authorities.

The move comes the same day Stockton Unified and the county District Attorney’s Office sent out joint letter to parents spelling out the penalties parents face for not complying with state truancy laws.

State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, who along with several lawmakers introduced the package in the Legislature,  issued a statement Tuesday expressing her disappointment, saying:

“I am disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed AB 1866 and AB 1672. These are missed opportunities to help keep California’s youngest and most vulnerable students on track. The facts are very clear. We know that nearly a million elementary school children are truant from our classrooms each year. We know foster, low-income and minority children are truant at much higher rates than other children. And we know truancy drives California’s drop-out, crime and incarceration rates. We must get serious about keeping track of whether young children are in school.”

Brown explains the reasoning behind his vetoes here.


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Isaak makes surprise appearance for Stagg reunion

Record photographer Calixtro Romias captured this shot of Stagg grad Chris Isaak performing in 2012 at the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton.

Chris Isaak, Stagg High’s most famous alum, made a surprise appearance Friday ahead of the Class of 1974′s 40th reunion this weekend, district spokeswoman Dianne Barth-Feist says.

The “Wicked Game” singer, who’s been in several films and TV shows as well, was valedictorian, class president at Stagg for three years and student body president his senior year. He also headed up the all-male cheer squad.

The alums will gather celebrate with a reunion Saturday evening at St. Basil’s Greek  Orthodox Church  and a barbecue at Micke Grove on Sunday.

No word on Isaak’s plans, but if you really want to see him, he’s making a repeat appearance Oct. 4 at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park. Click here for the full schedule.




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