Nobody opted their kids out when I spoke to schoolchildren at Grant School last year — does that make me more popular than Obama or just less interesting? On to the education newsblitz!

  • We blog that one of the two companies that are jointly managing the Sweetwater Union High School District facilities bond is facing a $44,500 fine for failing to turn in their donation reports on time, in some cases more than three years late. The reports include donations to campaigns of Sweetwater board members and the campaign to pass the school construction bond.
  • School lunch got a makeover at San Diego Unified, the UT reports. The idea is to get more teens to eat lunch, avoid singling out the kids who eat free meals and get more money reimbursed from the federal government for the meals. I caved and showed up to the unveiling too. Elsewhere in the state, school districts and charter schools outside San Jose are taking school lunch organic by contracting with special providers, the Mercury News reports.
  • The Obama speech to schoolchildren planned for Tuesday is stirring up a fuss, with some parents contending that it will be political “indoctrination.” Poway is letting families opt their children out, we blogged. The UT has this story about how different school districts are handling the speech, and the North County Times talks directly to a parent about it: “He’s not going to come to my child and ask her to support him,” said Oceanside resident Jim Betz.
  • Can’t get enough of the Obama speech debate? The Los Angeles Times sums up the issue nationwide, as do the New York Times, Education Week and USA Today. The Wall Street Journal also weighs in, arguing that the speech is no big deal but the lesson plans are over the top.
  • Clairemont Community News has side-by-side opinion pieces from San Diego Unified school board members John Lee Evans and John de Beck about how best to achieve local control over decisions in the sprawling district. Evans argues for decentralizing decisions down to “clusters” of schools that feed into a high school, while de Beck argues that the school district needs to be split up.
  • Federal education czar Arne Duncan visited Sacramento yesterday and urged lawmakers to change the law so that teacher evaluations can be linked to student scores, the Sacramento Bee reports.
  • This Los Angeles Weekly story is just appalling. It traces a police officer who got into the Los Angeles Unified school police force and was later convicted for pulling over a young woman and subjecting her to a sexually abusive search. He had earlier been accused of talking inappropriately to a high school student. The article argues that this is a sign of systemic problems in the school police.
  • Education Week zeroes in on the Philadelphia schools, where a superintendent is trying to negotiate a slew of changes to get better teachers into disadvantaged schools, including incentives to come to poorer schools, as well as changes to the ways teachers transfer. This is a really good explanation of the teacher quality push in education reform right now and what it looks like.
  • A blogger from the charter school world opines that a Texas merit pay plan is a bad idea — but not because he likes the old “step and column” system where teacher pay rises year by year.
  • And the Washington Post reports that D.C. schools investigated schools where scores skyrocketed and found “anomalies” that could suggest cheating — but the results are still inconclusive.

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