July 30, 2013: One of many helpful charts from the report on the effect of Gov. Brown's Local Control Funding Formula for public education, released yesterday from the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office(click control/+ to enlarge):
July 25, 2013: Parents of children in special education centers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) protested yesterday in Lake Balboa (San Fernando Valley, near Encino) over whatLA Daily News reporter Barbara Jones calls "the looming transfer of hundreds of disabled students from special education centers to traditional schools..." (At left, parent Rhonda Berrios; photo by Michael Owen Baker for the LA Daily News.)
...the protesters oppose the merger of four special-education centers with nearby traditional schools, a move that will affect about 300 disabled youngsters when school starts next month. Opponents of the plan say the district will be segregating rather than integrating their kids by putting them in unsafe situations and setting them up for teasing or bullying. They say they want it to be their choice, not the district's, to transfer their kids to a traditional campus.
"They are celebrated at special-education centers for their abilities, not their inabilities," said Rhonda Berrios of West Hills, whose 19-year-old son, Michael, is profoundly autistic. "They have dances, and basketball and baseball teams and cheerleading squads ... The district wants to throw them into a one-size-fits-all environment, and that would be a travesty if this happens." ...
Los Angeles Unified spends nearly $1.5 billion annually on special-education programs, which have shifted over the years from stand-alone centers to mainstream classrooms. Beginning last year, preschoolers who might previously have been enrolled in special-ed centers started their education at a traditional school.Several demonstrators say they believe district officials are trying to whittle down the enrollment so they can eventually close all of the centers -- a move that Howell has previously denied.The district currently operates 14 special-ed centers, which last year served 2,190 students....
July 17, 2013: Two-thirds of adolescents in California with mental health issues aren't receiving treatment, reports Anna Gorman in today's Los Angeles Times. The stats are based on new research from the California HealthCare Foundation. According to the report, "Mental Health Care in California: Painting a Picture," one in 13 children in the state suffers from a mental illness that "limits participation in daily activities."
The research also shows the prevalence of serious mental illness varies by income, with much high rates of mental illness at lower income levels; there are significant racial and ethnic disparities....with Native American, multiracial, and African-American populations experiencing the highest rates of mental illness.
Gorman's LA Times piece claims "...there are also wide disparities across the state, with the poorest regions of the state having the highest rates of mental illness and the lowest number of licensed mental health professions. The Affordable Care Act, however, is expected to improve access for many. The law expands who is eligible for Medi-Cal, the coverage program for poor and disabled residents, enabling them to get comprehensive mental health services, and California residents purchasing insurance through the healthcare marketplace will also have access to mental health care." ...
The California HealthCare Foundation is a 17-year-old philanthropy headquartered in Oakland that gives around $40 million in grants yearly from an endowment of $700 million; the president and CEO is Mark Smith, M.D. (above).
Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, at left, of the Children's Defense Fund-California reports the good news: the Legislature did approve the "gap funding" for foster youth who would have been ineligible for Medi-Cal coverage between July 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014 (affected 4,500 former foster children who fell in an administrative coverage gap under the new rulings that extend medical coverage to age 26; see full story below the jump.)
UPDATE, June 18, 2013:David Gorn, editor of California Healthlines,reported yesterday in his blog's "Capitol Desk," that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism (see story below) was not approved (on June 14) by the Legislature for Medi-Cal coverage.
June 6, 2013: The Children's Defense Fund-California alerts us to two pending budget issues regarding children's health: Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth, and behavior health services for children with autism.
As CDFC policy and communications associate Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, at left, writes:
Last year, budget decisions transferred nearly 1 million children from Healthy Families into Medi-Cal (beginning in January 2013). However, Healthy Families provided Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)services to children with autism -- and Medi-Cal does not. Instead, Medi-Cal pays for behavioral services through regional centers -- for which not all children qualify [Kristin Jacobson, co-founder of Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, estimates that three-fourths of Medi-Cal children with autismwill not be elibigle for behavioral services at regional centers]. All Medi-Cal children should have access to needed ABA services. Our request to the legislature is to augment the Medi-Cal budget by $50 million from the general fund, and adopt a placeholder trailer bill to add ABA services to Medi9-Cal managed care for children ineligible for regional center services.
In a Senate subcommittee meeting in late May, Toby Douglas, director of the state Dept. of Health Care Services (that orchestrated the Healthy Families transition) voiced concerns about the timing of this proposal.
"Any change to our plans requires contractual changes, as well as building in the rates," Douglas said. "And we need to get approval from our federal partners, including amendments to our 1115 waiver to add this benefit, which will take several months." Douglas said July 1 was not "a realistic implementation date."
June 10, 2013: Mike Rosenberg and Sharon Noguchi, reporting for the San Jose Mercury-News, announced tonight that earlier today the state Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown have reached "...a key agreement on K-12 education funding and other pivotal parts of the state's spending plan, which could set up one of the smoothest paths toward a budget in years....The agreement came five days before the full Senate and Assembly must approve the budget by a midnight Saturday deadline.
...Brown got his wish to keep intact most of the cuts made in previous years while dedicating most of the money from a newfound surplus to bolster public schools, with a particular emphasis on disadvantaged students. Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, chipped away at restoring a few parts of the social safety net slashed during the recession...
Brown also held lawmakers to his $96.4 billion spending plan, $3.2 billion less than the Democratic majority preferred.
Brown and lawmakers had also spent the last two weeks debating how to dole out the larger pie of money to K-12 schools that came from the Proposition 30 tax hikes. The compromise would increase money to K-12 schools by $2.1 billion, compared with Brown's original proposal of adding $1.6 billion, according to education consultant Ron Bennett...
John Fensterwald, editor of EdSource, opens his commentary this morning with a summary on that compromise: "In a nod to suburban districts that argued they would be shortchanged, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders negotiated a new version of Brown’s plan for school finance reform that will increase the base funding level for all students and lower the extra dollars for some high-needs students...."
While compromising at the edges, Brown appears to have gotten the three key reforms he sought: to simplify the antiquated and Byzantine formulas for funding schools; to inject more equity and justice into funding; and to shift control away from the state toward county and district levels...
Details for administrators, educators, and board members, including explanations on such topics as lower base grants with higher supplements and higher base grants with lower supplements, as well as district by district information can be found at EdSource.