Friday, March 30, 2012


KTMS Radio Commentary

Teachers are key to a good school experience for your children.

Be sure your child’s teacher knows that you understand and appreciate the effort that it takes to do well in the classroom.

A sincere thank you can help enhance the interaction between parents and teachers.

On occasion children face difficulties in school, and it often helps to concentrate on what is working and how the teacher is having a positive effect on your child’s life.

Approaching challenges from a positive perspective can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and result in a more positive outcome.

Expressing appreciation when appropriate is a simple way to keep the lines of communication open.

That way, should difficulties arise in the future, there is a good base of mutual respect from which to operate and discuss solutions.

The teaching profession is often undervalued and taken for granted. When you show respect and gratitude, it is appreciated and remembered.

A written note, a follow up phone call or a brief chat can be simple yet effective approaches to foster good feelings and understanding.

Remember that the goals of parents and teachers are very much the same – providing children with the best of all possible learning environments and success in academics.

The creative collaboration between parents and teachers is one of unlimited potential.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parent help with testing

          KTMS Radio Commentary

            Public schools strive to fill their mission of helping students improve their skills and reach their full potential. Accountability for this mission has always been an important priority.

In current times, accountability is focused almost exclusively on test scores.

Supporters of testing contend that exams will lead to measurable results.

            Opponents argue that average scores on high-stakes testing do not indicate how far a given teacher or school has taken a group of students from where they started. The scores don’t show the progress that was made for the individual student.

We hear of strong political support for tests, balanced by parent opposition. Clearly, there is controversy.
Nonetheless, tests right now are the only game in town. They are required of all schools and students in our state, and there are rewards and sanctions depending on the average outcome. 

Some young people are “naturals” at test-taking. They can sail through tests without stress. For many others, the taking of national and state standardized tests can be a time of high frustration and anxiety.

To help children feel confident about tests throughout their school career help them be relaxed, prepared, and rested. This is a way parents can their children succeed.

Changing the words to highlight the larger truth

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Newspaper Column

Recently Santa Barbara County’s Teacher of the Year, Desa Marie Mandarino, gave a wonderful speech at our annual Teachers Network Awards Banquet. Her focus was an admonition to students that “Time plus effort equals success.” Surely there is no more truthful or meaningful equation in the realm of the classroom.
Some of her other points struck me as profound on several levels. Most involved her use of words to highlight larger truths.
The reality is that sometimes words get stale and lose their power. They are shortcuts to larger meanings and can in time become substitutes for that meaning. When we tire of the word, we can lose sight of what it represents.
Desa made that point when she said she discovered there were “dreadful and ugly words that our teens did not want to hear.” Some of those words were: “homework,” “write an essay,” and even the word “student.” But clearly these are essential activities and concepts.
Her solution was to retain the underlying meaning of the word by glorifying it. What an elegant route to take. So her “students” became “scholars.” After all, that’s what a student is. But how much more glamorous it sounds. And how much more respectful the person using such a word comes to be. This only works, of course, if you mean it sincerely, and Desa is a believer to her core.
In her classroom, “homework” became “evening studies.” You can almost hear the music playing and the soft breeze wafting. Instead of a chore, those studies became positive experiences. Even her classroom “homework tray,” where assignments are dispensed, became her “Fiesta basket,” because in her mind “time plus effort” and learning itself became things that deserve a celebration.
Rather than directing her students to “write an essay,” Desa enables them to become essayists. Rather than giving oral presentations, they become orators.
“You are what you do,” Desa asserts. She insists that the young people in her classroom are not just “human beings,” but “human becomings,” and sees it as her role to guide, mentor, inspire, and teach.
It would be easy for critics to dismiss this approach as corny or contrived, but the results — and test scores — speak for themselves. Rarely will you see more engaged and enthusiastic scholars than those who grace her classrooms. That’s because Desa focuses not on stale words and concepts, but the glorious, beautiful underpinnings of those words that reveal the larger truth behind them. The scholars know the difference — teenagers are adept at spotting hollow gestures from a mile away. And it’s clear from everything Desa does and says that she means these things to her core.
I certainly do not want to belittle Desa’s masterful professionalism by focusing on just one small arrow in her quiver of exceptional instructional strategies. She is a master teacher in every sense of the word.
“The prize is in proportion to the effort,” she tells her students. Then she lives it.
The focus on re-invigorated words, however, struck me as a useful tool in many arenas. Certainly this is well known and practiced in the political arena — where weapons are dubbed “peace-keeping missiles,” wealthy people become “job creators,” and taxes become “revenue enhancements.” These techniques wouldn’t be used if they didn’t work effectively.
It seems that our public discourse could benefit from a shifting of focus, especially in these times of such strife and discord. We could all learn to replace the words that have become so polarizing, and focus instead on our shared values, goals, and humanity. Think of the strides we could make simply by reframing our arguments into positive discussions.
It’s a solution worth trying on many levels. And the prize will be in proportion to the effort, as Desa would say.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Teaching Confidence

        KTMS Radio Commentary

            Self-confidence enables young people to succeed in school. But self-confidence can be difficult to acquire and very difficult to teach. Parents can help nurture those skills and reap the rewards that result.

            For example, children can be taught to question some conventional wisdom. There will always be those who say that something can’t be done. Help children identify the difference between those who have real wisdom and those who are just naysayers.

            Emphasize that practical knowledge is just as important as learned knowledge, because knowledge lies at the heart of self-confidence. If students know how to do something, they will be more confident in their abilities.

            Remember that persistence leads to success. 

            One of the most difficult things for young people to learn is that it’s fine to fail, and that when they do, they can get back up and try again. 

            Children need to see that it’s good to stand up for what they believe, even when they’re unsuccessful or their stance is unpopular.

Find out what your child is good at, and encourage it. Nothing breeds self-confidence better than success. 

            In school, children must take every subject, even those that are not their strengths. Those courses can cause frustration, especially if struggles at school eat away at confidence. 
            So be sure to focus your encouragement on the things your children do well, and don’t dwell on the areas where they might fall short. 

            Show them that you believe they are successful. Knowing that YOU have confidence in them will help strengthen their own self-confidence.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homework Tips

      KTMS Radio Commentary     

           Without review, the average student can forget 80 percent of what he has read in just two weeks. 

            To help students retain what they have learned, the first review of the material should come very shortly after they study the material for the first time. 

            The early review acts as a check on forgetting and helps them remember far longer. When the time comes to review for a test, the material is fresher in the mind and easier to recall.

            It also helps sometimes to recite the material out loud. Recitation reinforces the material and creates a different pathway into the memory banks. 

            It also helps, after reading a paragraph, to have the student use his or her own words to describe key ideas.

            One other helpful homework tip has proven effective for many families: When students are given a study assignment that will be due in a few weeks, the students should spend five minutes on it the very first night. 

            They should read it through carefully, and think about all the elements that need to be done, including research, artwork, memorization, or something creative. 

            The main advantage is that the student avoids waiting until the last minute and discovering, too late, all that should have been done in the meantime.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good Nutrition

KTMS Radio Commentary

Nutrition awareness is an essential part of health education.

            This learning takes place during meals as a result of the foods provided. It happens throughout the day as well — at play, in the classroom, and during sports.

            Children need food and calories for growth and normal development. Serving a variety of foods helps children maintain a healthy body weight. And good practices can lead to a lifetime of health.

           The meals children are served and the skills they acquire at a young age, help to set lifelong eating habits. That’s why it is important to teach good eating patterns.

Make mealtime a pleasant and relaxed experience. Offer a variety of foods, prepared in different ways.

It makes good nutrition sense and it makes meals and snacks more interesting.

           Regular physical activity is also important for good health. It burns calories, helps with weight control, and is important in preventing some chronic diseases.

           When it comes to feeding young people, try to choose foods that are lower in fat and that contain unsaturated fat.

            For example, cook with lean ground meat when you barbecue.

          Serve sandwiches on whole wheat bread. Serve bean tacos, burritos, or chili for alternate sources of protein.

          Well-nourished, healthy children achieve better in school. And these practices can help set the pattern for a lifetime of good nutrition.

Bucking Peer Pressure

KTMS Radio Commentary

Parents can help prepare their children buck peer pressure, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

It helps to role-play about how to say no. Act out ways that your child can refuse to go along with friends without becoming a social outcast.

You can’t envision all the circumstances that might arise, but you might be able to cover the more typical situations where young people find themselves in awkward situations.

For example, you could say to your child: “Let’s play a game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy’s house after school and they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in drinking it.

“You know that the rule in our family is that children are not allowed to drink any alcohol, right? So what could you say to your friends in that situation?”

If your child comes up with a good response, congratulate him enthusiastically.

If nothing springs to mind, offer options. He could say: “No thanks. Let’s play Nintendo instead,” or “No thanks. I don’t drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball practice.”

Or, even better: “That doesn’t sound like fun to me. Let’s go outside.”

The actual response doesn’t matter, as long as your child feels comfortable saying it.

Stress the point that real friends respect each other’s feelings. And that people who make their friends do harmful things aren’t really friends at all. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Revenue Sources

KTMS Radio Commentary

The California legislature and governor decide how much money will go to public schools each year. In recent times the financial crisis has been so severe that mid-year cuts became necessary to keep the state solvent.

This has been very challenging for schools because their budgets must be set in June, and it is difficult to find enough places to cut after staffing has been locked in for the year.

There are only five sources of money for schools in California. First, the state. About 54 percent of school funds come from the state’s business, corporate, and personal income taxes, and sales taxes.

The next source is local property taxes, which account for about 30 percent of school funds, on average, statewide.

Next, the federal government contributes about 8 percent of the education budget.

Miscellaneous payments provide about 6 percent of the total. These include fees on construction; special elections for construction bonds or parcel taxes (which need a vote for approval); contributions from foundations, businesses, and individuals; and interest on investments.

Finally, less than 2 percent of the total — or about $100 per student — comes from the Lottery. That’s it. There are no other sources of funds.

More than six million students attend public schools in California — one out of every eight students in America. Yet more than half the states spend much more per pupil than we do.

The huge discrepancy, plus a constant erosion of local control over funding, makes a good argument for rethinking the way we finance our schools in California.

Cyber Crimes

KTMS Radio Commentary

It’s very common for any young person with a camera phone to take a picture, even an innocuous one, with a friend, and upload it to a Facebook page or post it on a site.
Parents may be unaware that every picture taken by a cell phone now has a geo tag, which provides the exact latitude and longitude where the picture was taken.
This means that anyone who means harm to young people can see a picture online and find out exactly where the young people are, just by the geo tag. That’s cause for great concern.
Our office is working in partnership with District Attorney Joyce Dudley to be aggressive in the new battle lines against cyber crimes and cyber bullying. 
The incidents of bullying via text and online sites is also mushrooming and can be devastating. 
The best bet for parents is to pay attention to how children respond to criticism — if they seem to have an especially short fuse, and react quite badly to even mild criticism, it could be a sign that they are experiencing cyber bullying and it is making them much more sensitive to negative statements.
It’s also important to notice any changes in a child’s behavior patterns, such as a good student not wanting to go to school, or an outgoing child becoming withdrawn.
Most important of all, parents must monitor their children’s Internet behaviors and make sure their children know not to frequent the sites that are dangerous. We all have to work together in this area because adults are truly playing catch-up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lynda Nahra-Local Leaders

Lynda Nahra
Pacific Western Bank

Janis Connally-Talking with Teachers

Janis Connally
Adams School

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bill Denneen Environmental Awards recipients

2012 Bill Denneen Environmental Awards recipients

Santa Maria, Save A Little/Save A Lot

Joy Snyder, Adam School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District, has students lead a campaign to collect the waste generated by the average student lunch, and sort, package, and send the waste to the proper recycling facilities.

Santa Maria, Caring to Conserve

Patsy Mitchell, Taylor School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District, has students chart various levels of classroom energy use, such as the amount of energy used when the lights are always left on, vs. when the lights are turned off after school, vs. when the lights are turned off after every time the classroom is empty. The findings are compared and presented on posters to advise others how to conserve.

Teachers awarded grants for Care for our Earth

Teachers awarded grants for Care for our Earth,
innovation, philanthropy, and service projects countywide
Twenty-eight teachers from eight school districts countywide were recognized by the Santa Barbara County Education Office with Care for our Earth grants for classroom projects at the 2012 Teachers Network Grant Recognition Dinner Feb. 23, sponsored by the Southern California Gas Company at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton. Five teachers from the County Education Office received Teacher Innovation Grant awards. Another 28 third grade teachers were recognized for philanthropic projects involving the Care & Share II Grant program, and 22 received Care & Share Grants for community service and philanthropy countywide.
The Care for Our Earth Grants were developed through a partnership with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, the Southern California Gas Company, and the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Teachers Network. This year the program received additional support from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Tina McEnroe-Rancho La Purisima, and the Bill Denneen Environmental Awards. The Care for Our Earth program offers grants to fourth to 12th grade teachers who implement an environmental service project with their students to save energy or reduce traffic and pollution at the school.
Editor’s Note:  Winning projects are attached, along with a photo of grant winners.
Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, a member of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors, and Dave Van Mullem, director of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, presented the awards.

Bill Denneen Environmental Awards
For the first time, grouped into the Care for Our Earth Grant category were the Bill Denneen Environmental Awards. Denneen, a retired microbiology instructor at Allan Hancock College, is a lifelong community activist and proud environmentalist, who said he wanted to encourage the next generation of environmental activists with a cash award. Denneen gave his awards to trustees, who each used the award to recognize environmental champions annually. Virginia Perry Souza, one of the three trustees, represented Bill Denneen Environmental Awards at the Feb. 23 event. The 2012 recipients of Bill Denneen Environmental Awards are attached.

Teacher Innovation Grant awards
The Teacher Innovation Grant Awards are offered annually by the Santa Barbara County Education Office to employees who are creating projects and creatively exploring new ways of helping students learn. Grant recipients work to develop original teaching ideas, solve classroom management issues, encourage parent and community partnerships, or learn new techniques through professional development.
This year’s Teacher Innovation Grant projects included: creating a take-home reading program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program that includes over 40 Guided Reading books with corresponding DVDs in which the book is presented in Sign Language; helping special needs students discover nutritious foods, learn about growing healthy foods, and participate in field trips that encourage healthy eating habits; teaching students innovative and adaptive skills as they convert a gasoline engine Porsche into an all electric, zero-emissions vehicle; giving students the opportunity to visit colleges and training programs on the central coast to explore career fields based on their interests and abilities; and helping students learn about hydroponics as they create and maintain a hydrophobic system.

Care & Share II awards
Twenty-eight Care & Share II Grant recipients were also honored at the Grant Recognition Dinner.
Sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Orfalea Foundation, and coordinated by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, the Care & Share II Philanthropy Grant Program offers an award for third grade teachers who submit philanthropic projects that promote the opportunity to experience the joy of caring and sharing, while nurturing the core values of philanthropy. In its fifth year, the Care & Share II Philanthropy Grant program funded more than 100 grants countywide. Tara Perillo, Grants Administrator from the Orfalea Foundation, helped present the grant awards.
This year’s Care & Share II Grant projects included: students gathering educational materials such as books, writing materials, art and music supplies for shipment to disadvantaged school children across the globe; students participating in a food drive to collect canned goods, toys, books, etc. for the local homeless shelter; students selling Smencils (scented pencils), the profits from which will help to stock the pet food pantry at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, a nonprofit, “no-kill” shelter; and students fundraising to support the Rainforest Action Network, an organization that works to save endangered lands, species, and plants of the rainforests in Central and South America.

Care & Share awards
Twenty-two Care & Share Philanthropy Grant awards were also given at the Grant Recognition Dinner. Sponsored annually by the Santa Barbara Foundation and coordinated by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, the Care & Share Philanthropy Grant Program involves K-12 students in acts of philanthropy, helping them develop an appreciation of community service, while cultivating an ethic of giving. The program provides students with philanthropic learning experiences that enable them to realize their ability to make a difference in the larger community.
Bronwen Fitzsimons, grants administrator from the Santa Barbara Foundation, and Molly Carrillo-Walker, community investment officer from the Santa Barbara Foundation, handed out the awards. Examples of this year’s Care & Share Philanthropy Grant projects included: students becoming “Animal Ambassadors” by participating in a program at the local animal shelter designed to inform and instill activism in animal services; assembling and decorating “Jared Boxes” to provide a special diversion for young, chronically ill patients as they receive chemotherapy and other medical treatments at the local hospital; decorating pillowcases that are filled with toiletries, novelties, and books, to be delivered to homeless teens in the area; and visiting seniors at a local care facility to build relationships and strengthen the connection between the generations.
Further information on these grant programs is available by contacting Petti M. Pfau, director of teacher programs, at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, 964-4710, ext. 5281
Pictured (left to right):  Dave Van Mullem, APCD director; Lisa McNeil, Adam School; 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, member of the APCD bvoard; John Livingston, Santa Ynez Valley Charter School; Joy Snyder, Adam School, Santa Maria; Chris Scott, Santa Ynez Elementary School; Crystal Dominguez, Santa Maria High School Special Education; Mona Gros, Santa Maria High School Special Education; Lisa Savaso, Joe Nightingale School, Orcutt; Bettina Knox, Dos Pueblos High School; Mary Burch, Lompoc High School; Riccardo Magni, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria; Emma Rodriguez, Delta High School in Santa Maria; Lori Lee Collins, Carpinteria Family School; Donna Ehret, Adam School; Catherine Ulrich, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program; Tammie Castillo Shiffer, Pioneer Valley High School; Kelly VanAllen, Pine Grove Elementary School, Orcutt; Laura Branch, Righetti High School; Juliana Zellers, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program; Deanne Rosing, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program.

Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching

Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching
By Linda Darling-Hammond

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Board Makes Statement of Conscience

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
Newspaper Column
With the release of the governor's budget this year, the issue of our state's financial crisis became front and center. As deliberations begin among policymakers, I salute the Santa Barbara County Board of Education for inserting itself into the process by producing a statement of conscience and insisting that our legislators consider its points.
It has always been the case that budgets are a statement of values, maybe more so in difficult times when choices are so stark. The county board’s statement helps remind us what is of vital importance as our state proceeds to make those wrenching decisions. Perhaps the board’s most critical point: “We believe it is a moral imperative that those individuals who reaped the rewards from the state’s earlier investment in an exceptional education system do all they can to ensure that comparable opportunities are available to young people today. The investment gap is unconscionable.”
The county board states that the concept of free and universal public education is the core of what makes our country exceptional, and continues to be the envy of the world. For generations, adults did what was right for the generations that followed. Today, the board said it sees a clear abrogation of that duty.
“In classrooms throughout our state and nation, children learn the skills essential to their contributions to the democratic society they will enter as adults. Young people today will fly the planes, repair the cars, staff the emergency rooms, and make the policies that affect the generation that follows. Their preparation and education are what will make the difference between our success or failure as a society. This is simple fact,” the statement says.
The board members are pragmatists: “We are well aware that our state faces a true fiscal crisis that was years in the making and is staggering in its magnitude. There are no easy solutions. Programs will need to be cut. Revenues will need to be added. We are mindful that representatives at every level need to make extremely difficult and wrenching choices. Every program receiving state funds has fervent supporters who can argue persuasively that those programs are vital. We respectfully submit that not all institutions are equal. Public education is of a different magnitude and impact.”
The board submitted that it is unacceptable and self-defeating for the state to abdicate its responsibility to fund public schools at an adequate level.
“Studies are unambiguous on the high correlation between a lack of education and much more costly consequences, including crime, poverty, the need for social services, incarcerations, law enforcement, and other expensive interventions. That is the practical need. There is also the moral need for societies to take care of their children,” they wrote.
“While we do not presume to tell legislators how they will work the state’s budget to secure the funding necessary to ensure our children receive the education they need and deserve, we are stating emphatically that there is urgent need to do so.
“The current situation is unsustainable. Pared down levels of educational services are not an option. The very fabric of our society is at stake. We cannot lose a generation of young people simply because the adults refused to act.”
In calling upon today’s adults to do what adults of the past have always done for the next generation of children, the Santa Barbara County Board of Education is making a powerful statement of values. The trustees reflect a wide range of political and philosophical differences on a broad range of issues; this unanimous statement therefore stands in testimony to the deep-seated, nonpartisan belief that there is danger in our current condition regarding support of public education, and a moral imperative to take action.

Arts Essential for All

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
                                                                                                                             Newspaper Column
When school budgets get very tight, art and music education tend to be among the early casualties. In a very sad way, it’s understandable. These are the days when every school and every classroom is rated according to how students achieve on standardized tests. You can scan those tests till you grow very weary and you will surely never see mention of a treble clef or a two-point perspective. When tests measure reading, math, and social studies, that is what is taught and that is where resources must be allocated.
What is much more difficult to understand is a political arena and a social context that makes that choice necessary in the first place. It is short-sighted and counterproductive. The arts are not frills — they are essential elements of a complete education, and often provide the very skills and motivation required for school success.
The reasons to include arts in a school curriculum are compelling.
The arts represent a form of thinking that is both sensory and intellectual, and is based on human imagination and judgment. The arts are a form of expression and communication that is essential to the human experience, and truly deserve a regular place in our classrooms. What’s more, the arts provide unique ways of reaching students who may not access knowledge as readily through language and mathematics alone.
In addition, studies also point to higher levels of student involvement and educational achievement among students taking advanced arts courses.
Fortunately, most Americans recognize the importance of this early engagement in the arts. A Harris Poll found that 90 percent of respondents considered the arts vital to a well-rounded education for all students.
Parents seem to recognize that the arts provide a heightened appreciation of beauty and cross-cultural understandings, and that the arts seem to enhance creativity, thinking skills, and discipline. Many young people find great joy in artistic expression. For some, it is an outlet and a source of inspiration. It helps them keep connected to their teachers and their schools.
The benefits of arts education can translate into real advantages, including closing the achievement gaps between groups of students, keeping young people in school who otherwise might dropout, and preparing students for the demands of college and an ever-changing workforce. If we had a magic pill that would do all that we would be dispensing it widely.
In declaring March Arts Education Month, the state board of education stated that arts education is an essential part of basic education for all students, K-12, to provide for balanced learning and to develop the full potential of their minds.
Throughout the western world, arts education is an integral part of a child’s education. Arts education is essential. On behalf of all the children we represent and serve, we should support arts education with all our efforts and resources. Otherwise we will have drained from our schools the humanity, the creativity, the discipline, and the joy that arts can provide to all our children.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chris Scott-Talking with Teachers

Chris Scott
Santa Ynez School

Mike Mowers-Talking with Teachers

Mike Mowers
Los Robles High School

Paul Conshaw-Talking with Teachers

Paul Cronshaw
La Cueasta High School

Lee Ann Knodel-Talking with Teachers

Lee Ann Knodel-Santa Barbara High School

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cal Grants

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools
                                                                                                                 Newspaper Column
The March 2 deadline is rapidly approaching for Cal Grant applications, so families should make sure to get their material completed. For a great many students in our state there has sadly been very little incentive to do well in school. Many of these students come from low and middle income families with no realistic capabilities of affording higher education. These students know from a young age that they will have to work to support themselves or contribute to the family as soon as they are able.
Though some of these students still summon the inner motivation to study hard and do well in school, many others are handicapped by this motivation barrier. It’s easy to see why the typical stresses and distractions of adolescents can loom larger for those who see no promise of any academic advancement in the future.
More than 40 years ago the state of California set a goal of providing access to higher education for low and middle income students. That goal became a reality with the passage of funding for Cal Grants. These are cash awards for college aid.
Again, The deadline for application this year is March 2.
Cal Grant A provides full tuition and fees at a California State University or University of California campuses, or up to $9,700 per year towards tuition at a private university. These funds are provided to high school graduates with a 3.0 (B) or higher grade-point average whose maximum income ranges from $29,400 for recipients who are independent to $92,600 for students from a family of six or more.
Cal Grant B provides $1,551, enough money for fees, books, and some living expenses at a community college, or tuition at a CSU campus. Cal Grant B students must have a 2.0 (C) or higher grade-point average with a maximum income of $42,100 for a family of four.
Cal Grant C awards help pay for tuition and training costs at occupational or career colleges. This $576 award is for books, tools and equipment. An additional $2,592 may also be awarded for tuition at a school other than a California Community College. To qualify, students must enroll in a vocational program that is at least four months long at a California Community College, private college, or a vocational school. Funding is available for up to two years, depending on the length of the program.
Cal Grant B Competitive Awards are for students with a minimum 2.0 GPA who are from disadvantaged and low-income families. These awards can be used for tuition, fees, and access costs at qualifying schools whose programs are at least one year in length. A Cal Grant B Competitive Award can only be used for access costs in the first year, including living expenses, transportation, supplies and books. Beginning with the second year, the Cal Grant B Competitive Award can be used to help pay tuition and fees at public or private four-year colleges or other qualifying schools.
It’s clear that the availability of these grants has had the potential to change lives. It provides students with the motivation to focus even harder on their studies. If students do their part and earn good grades, money will no longer be a barrier to higher education.
This has been a landmark accomplishment and it has spurred many students to work hard in school and fulfill their family’s dreams and their own potential.
With all these programs in place, the state has made a strong commitment to higher education and accessibility for students. We will all reap the benefits of an educated work force and an educated consumer base that can attain the job skills to earn the money to afford the goods and services produced by our economy. Truly these grants are a win-win situation for all.
Information about the grants can also be found online at: and