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League of Women Voters to discuss education funding

October 02, 2011|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank is scheduled to hold its first consensus meeting today, during which members will provide input about the national organization’s stance on federal funding for public education.

The meeting will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Fire Station No. 21, 421 Oak St., Glendale. It’s open to the public, but only league members can participate in building consensus.

A panel of local educators, administrators and students discussed the topic at a league-sponsored public forum recently, said Joan Hardie, the league’s president.

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One of the issues brought up was the fact that the federal government requires school districts to educate special needs students but it doesn’t provide the funding it promised. When the special-education legislation was passed, the federal government signed on to provide 40% of the funding. However, it currently chips in only about half that amount, Hardie said.

Joylene Wagner, a league member and president of the Glendale Unified school board, said most of the participants agreed that the still-developing Common Core Standards testing, which the governors of 48 states have approved in concept, is a good alternative to the California Standards Test, which penalizes some schools that do not perform at federally-mandated benchmarks.

There was also agreement among the group that the testing should not be mandatory, Wagner said.

The students on the panel said the California Standards Test doesn’t fairly gauge a student’s knowledge in some subjects.

“They ask them questions about things they learned when they were freshmen years ago,” Hardie said.

Math, in particular, can be difficult. The students may be learning calculus, but they’re asked questions about algebra, which they learned two years earlier, she said.

Another objective of the league’s national study is to look at federal funding for pre-kindergarten education.

Administrators on the panel said school districts don’t have the funds to provide pre-kindergarten education to all children, Hardie said.

The next consensus meeting will be held 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 at the McCambridge Recreation Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank.

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