California receives grants to help low-income students take Advanced Placement tests

The U.S. Department of Education announced it awarded California $11,043,703 in Advanced Placement grants as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for under-served students.

California is one of 41 states and Washington, D.C., that received a total of $28.4 million to help settle the costs of taking advanced placement tests for students from low-income families.

In a press release sent from the department, the grants will be used to help pay for students from low-income families take approved advanced placement tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations.

By funding test fees, the program encourages all students to take advanced placement tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reduce the time and cost required to complete a post-secondary degree.

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Manteca Unified releases mobile app

Manteca Unified, known for embracing technology to a different level than any other district in San Joaquin County, has introduced their own mobile application.

Called “MantecaUSD,” parents and students can download the free app for direct links to the district website, directory, calendar, YouTube channel, sports scores, nutrition education menus and PeachJar, another new technology initiative that is the district’s new e-flyer system.

The district said since the app was launched on August 25, it has been downloaded over 1,500 times. The “Parent Connection” feature has by far the most popular.

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Annunciation School celebrates 60 years

The Annunciation School in Stockton kicks off their first day of classes today but are also celebrating another milestone: turning 60.

First founded in 1956, in the building formerly housing St. Mary’s High School, the school, located on 1110 N. Lincoln St. in central Stockton, provides students a quality education in a faith filled environment.

According to the school’s website, they are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as well as the Western Catholic Education Association.

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Tokay High STEAM Team honored; awarded grant

(From left) Tokay High teacher Sandra Starr and former student Julie Fukunaga. Courtesy of Fukunaga.

The Tokay High School STEAM Team was selected in late July for a $5,000 grant of the Think It Up Innovation Awards, honoring eight teams of students and teachers who “exemplify the great work happening in America’s classrooms.”

Tokay High received $5,000 in funding credits to advance their outstanding work in the classroom.

The Tokay group was honored as the STEAM Team consists of more than 20 students who brought STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) with the first-ever Science and Tech Festival earlier this year.

Graduating senior Julie Fukunaga and her teacher Sandra Starr, an Advanced Placement environmental science and biology teacher, walked the red carpet at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards to attend the ceremony.

In April, Starr was honored as the local winner of the Weberstown Mall Barnes & Noble store 2016 My Favorite Teacher contest.

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Welcome back message from Davalos

Dear Stockton Unified staff, students, parents and community.

Welcome back to what is sure to be an exciting and successful year in SUSD!   

In June 2016, the SUSD Board of Trustees approved the 2016-17 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).  The LCAP represents the collective voices of students, teachers, administrators , parents and the public.   It is truly a testimony to this community’s commitment to our schools and to the expectation that each student in SUSD receives the highest quality educational program in a safe learning environment. 

Among the exciting things you will see this year is a commitment to providing our students with the most up to date tools and equipment for their learning.  High schools will have new, state of the art science equipment which will enhance the STEM opportunities at these schools.  Increased tutoring at our schools will help support the learning needs of all of our students, including support for students learning at the highest levels.  Students will also receive additional assistance with preparation for college admissions tests such as the SAT. 

The district’s successful AVID program, which has propelled so many students into becoming the first in their families to attend college, is moving beyond the high schools to elementary campuses.  In 2016-17, through our partnership with San Joaquin Delta College, qualified high school students will be able to engage in dual enrollment courses at their respective comprehensive high schools.  Students enrolled in these courses will have the opportunity to gain college course experience and earn college credits. 

The Stockton Public Safety Academy at the Stagg High campus will launch a class of nearly 100 cadets in 5-8 grades.  In addition, career readiness opportunities will be expanded throughout the district, with increased partnerships and participation of the area’s trades and business sector.  Positive school climates will continue to be enhanced through an increased investment in PLUS, Peer Leaders Uniting Students.  And, just in case you haven’t noticed, the Edison High renovation continues at full speed.  New classrooms and facilities at Edison will provide students with the latest technology. 

I am very proud to serve as the Superintendent of this district.  I know that by working together we can ensure that each SUSD student will graduate from high school and be college and career ready!  


Eliseo Dávalos, Ph.D.


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Tri-Valley Learning “eager for opportunity” for future with SUSD

The Stockton Unified School District announced Tuesday it will consider charter petitions for Acacia Elementary and Acacia Middle schools, in a sent a letter to Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, which runs them.

The story can be found HERE.

Tri-Valley Learning interim CEO Lynn Lysko released a statement following SUSD’s decision:

“We are very pleased SUSD has agreed to consider authorizing Stockton’s Acacia schools. Our staff and parents are eager for the opportunity to share our schools’ success and plans for the future with the SUSD board and staff,” she said.

“We appreciate SUSD recognizing this unique situation and acting now. Our parents and students deserve an authorizing partner who values their schools’ contribution to the Stockton community and we look forward to engaging in this productive process with SUSD.”

Public hearings for both charter schools will be held at a regularly scheduled SUSD board meeting on Aug. 23 at the district’s headquarters on 701 N. Madison St., in Stockton.

Tri-Valley Learning also said it will continue to appeal revocation from New Jerusalem Elementary School District, which previously oversaw the charters, to the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

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Torlakson, as CA Acting Gov., proclaims “Change Lives – Be a Teacher Day”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, as his first official act as Acting Governor of California, issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring “Change Lives – Be a Teacher Day.”

While Gov. Jerry Brown, Liet. Gov. Gavin Newsom and most of the other statewide constitutional office holders are currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, the State Constitution and the Government Code require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction serve as Acting Gov. when regular statewide office holders are absent, the state Dept. of Education said in a press release.

Torlakson assumed duties as Acting Gov. on Monday and will serve until Thursday July 28 when Gov. Brown returns.

The proclamation is as follows:

“Are you a talented, passionate, dedicated, and high-quality person who wants to make a profound difference in the lives of young people and your community? California needs you.

California needs you to consider becoming a teacher.

Teachers play a pivotal role in helping young people get excited about learning and reaching success in 21st century careers and college.

But California has a teacher shortage. School districts, with an influx of new funding, are looking to lower student-teacher ratios and reinstate classes and programs that were reduced or eliminated during the lean budget years of the Great Recession.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing last year issued 15,000 credentials but projected a need for 7,000 more. In mid-October of 2015, two months after the school year started, the statewide educator job portal EdJoin still listed nearly 4,000 open teaching positions—double the number listed at that time in 2013.

Enrollment in California’s teacher preparation programs has declined significantly in the last eight years.

Specialized credentials are in high demand. In mathematics and science, the number of preliminary credentials awarded to new, fully-prepared teachers dropped by 32 percent and 14 percent, respectively, over the last four years. In special education, the number of credentials issued dropped by 21 percent.

We want students from your communities and from your schools to learn how rewarding it is to be a teacher. Most of those students will return to their communities and serve as role models.

Teaching isn’t just a job. It isn’t just a career. It’s a calling. It’s a commitment to your community, your students, and most of all, a commitment to the future.

You can learn more about becoming a teacher at

Whether you are a student, a para-educator, or a career changer, please consider becoming a teacher. Make the difference of a lifetime.

Now Therefore I, Tom Torlakson, Acting Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2016, as “Change Lives – Be a Teacher Day.”

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A parent’s response to New Jersusalem’s despute with Tri-Valley Learning Corps

Over this past week, I reported on two stories involving the New Jerusalem Elementary School District’s intent to revoke two Stockton charter schools over financial reasons with the charter’s overseer, the Tri-Valley Learning Corp.

A day after the district announced a town hall meeting would take place for parents to voice their concerns, TVLC threatened legal action, thus cancelling the meeting.

Janine Youngbird, a Livermore Valley School Charter School parent whose children attend TVLC’s Livermore schools, wrote me an email detailing her part of an organized group of parents that have been fighting to change TVLC and “the corruption at the top of the organization” for the last several months, after they became aware of New Jerusalem’s Notice of Violation.

She provided a statement after the news broke of the cancelled meeting:

“It’s disheartening that with the various accusations against TLVC by both their authorizers, that TVLC would hinder communities from communicating and coming together to save our schools. Both Acacia and Livermore charter schools fall under the TVLC umbrella and we could be standing together as one. Over the past eight months, parents in Livermore have been uniting to discern what TVLC leadership is doing behind the scenes about the current perils facing TVLC.  Some Livermore parents have even attempted to reach out to Stockton parents, without success. We have been told that Stockton parents found out about the risk to their schools only within the last month. Liver more parents have known about the risk since April 8.

We have implored TVLC leadership to be forthright about the issues but we felt stonewalled and frustrated. So, we as parents are here to support the teachers, staff and children of Acacia and all the schools under the TVLC umbrella. It’s important for us to protect the children and make sure that their needs come first and foremost.” 

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Lodi Unified approve after-school support for Bridge program

The Lodi Unified School District will continue to receive funding from the state After School Education and Safety Program grant, which provides funds for after-school enrichment for K-8 students in the district’s Bridge Program.

The district has contracted with the city of Lodi along with the California Dept. of Education grant, funded by Prop. 49 (voted in 2002), to provide services for the past nine years, and has negotiated an agreement for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department to continue in 2016-17 and into the year after.

The 13 schools to get additional funding are Beckman, Borchardt, Heritage, Lawrence, Needham, Nichols, Victor, Washington, Woodbridge and Live Oak elementary schools; Lodi and Millswood middle schools and Houston School. The district’s other schools in Lodi did not qualify for grant funding.

The department will receive $39,000 per year per elementary school site and $49,000 per middle school site.

The Lodi Unified board approved the contract on June 21.

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Davalos’ message for SUSD families

As I was on vacation all last week, it also marked the first official week of Dr. Eliseo Davalos’ first as new superintendent of Stockton Unified.

On July 1, the district posted his welcome message:

Dear Stockton Unified community,

It is with great pleasure and excitement  that I am returning to my native city to help lead this great school district. 

The educational foundation that was built for me in SUSD at Taft Elementary and John Marshall Junior High provided me with the knowledge and  skills necessary to be successful in high school, college, and graduate school.  I wish this same success for every student we serve. 

We will continue to work diligently to ensure that all SUSD students receive the highest quality education, in safe, supportive, and culturally proficient learning environments.  Upon graduation, our students will be able to select from any of the multitude of college and career opportunities available to them. 

This is an exciting time for Stockton Unified School District and I am blessed to return to serve my community and be a part of its future. 


Eliseo Dávalos, Ph.D. 

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