I just got back from vacation and I’m raring to start reporting! Send me your tips and burning questions at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org to help me get the party started again. But first, your morning newsblitz:

  • The Union-Tribune reports that a Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against a labor pact on the $2.1 billion school construction bond for San Diego Unified schools, but opponents of the pact, who claim it unfairly discriminates against non-union apprenticeship programs, are appealing the ruling.
  • Also in the UT: Tardiness and attendance at one local high school seemed to be linked to parents’ inability to pay for public transit, so one principal is seeking donations to help cover bus passes.
  • KPBS sums up the budget cut challenges for San Diego Unified nicely in a year-end piece.
  • Fallbrook high schools are settling a lawsuit over free speech in a school newspaper, which was barred from printing a news article and an editorial about sex education, with a $20,000 payment to the American Civil Liberties Union and $7,500 for the faculty advisor to the school newspaper, the North County Times reports. The two blocked pieces were printed in April.
  • SDNN looks at how adult education programs are faring at universities despite budget cuts.
  • Up in Los Angeles, teachers are vying to take control of the schools they work in, the Times reports. It’s one twist in the controversial new plan to allow groups, such as charter schools, to take over campuses.
  • I missed this big story from the LAT while I was gone and you might have, too: The Times found that Los Angeles schools routinely award tenure to teachers after only cursory reviews.
  • John Fensterwald at Educated Guess breaks down one of the remaining debates over a bill that aims to make California more likely to win federal money through Race to the Top, a competition for more school stimulus funds. The most controversial issue: Whether parents will be given a “trigger” that would allow a majority of families to force schools to make major changes.
  • Another one I missed while I was gone: Mayors in California’s biggest cities, including San Diego, have signed a letter urging California legislators to pass that Race to the Top bill, the Associated Press reports. The state only has a few weeks left before the deadline.
  • Meanwhile, Education Week reports that teachers unions in two states, Minnesota and Florida, are threatening not to endorse their states’ bids for Race to the Top. That could damage their states’ chances of getting the money.
  • Here’s some real drama in the 90210: Beverly Hills schools might boot students from outside the area as it switches from getting state money based on student attendance to being funded directly by its “well-to-do tax base,” the Associated Press reports. State budget cuts may push more school districts to seek this path.
  • Sacramento advocates are considering a charter school tailored to the needs of Hmong children, the Bee reports. Ethnically isolated charter schools have sometimes been criticized in San Diego, but the idea is still popular nationwide in light of minority students’ struggles in school.
  • The Oakland Tribune education blog gave our recent series on teacher placement a hat tip and asked readers for their thoughts.
  • The Chicago Tribune reports that its schools are looking to the Harlem Children’s Zone, which combines intensive social services with a batch of charter schools, as a model for reform. HCZ has also been invoked in San Diego, particularly by the City Heights Educational Collaborative.
  • Teach for America graduates are less likely to be civically active than those who declined or dropped out of the program, a new study finds. The New York Times explores why.

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