Jessica Calefati

Education Reporter
Jessica comes to CALmatters from The Mercury News, where she worked as a one-woman Sacramento bureau covering politics and state government. She also investigated a Wall Street-traded online schools company that's reaping millions in state funding while failing thousands of California students. That work got the attention of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who recently reached a $168.5 million settlement with the company over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success. Before moving to California three years ago to follow Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature, Jessica lived in her native New Jersey and wrote about state education policy and the Newark schools for The Star-Ledger. There she covered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's war with the powerful teachers union, Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to the Newark schools and a fiery community activist with political pull whose charter school used millions in public money to bolster a real estate fiefdom she controlled.

California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released this week by the National Center for Education…

If extremely low, declining performance on math and reading exams alone were enough to trigger state support, the number of California districts that could expect special state help would almost…

Gov. Jerry Brown’s landmark school funding formula would not only win more money under the state budget blueprint he released Wednesday but also be subjected to the sort of transparency…

A veteran teacher reveals the challenges and frustrations she faces every day as she tries to close an achievement gap for her students in San Francisco’s Bayview.

This post is part of our Open Reporting at CALmatters, in which we share progress on stories as we’re developing them, while also inviting you to share thoughts and comments to help inform our...

In the past year, CALmatters, Capital Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times have partnered to examine the history of the state’s pension woes and how key decisions to boost…

In the past year, CALmatters, Capital Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times have partnered to examine the history of the state’s pension woes and how key decisions to boost…

Several small, cash-strapped California school districts are using a loophole in state law to boost their revenue by overseeing a raft of far-flung charter schools, according to a recent report…

San Francisco, a progressive enclave and beacon for technological innovation, has the worst black student achievement of any county in California. Only 19 percent of black students passed the state…

California voters have twice rejected private school voucher initiatives, but a new poll shows a majority favor the concept, which has been touted by the Trump administration as a way…

A powerful teachers union and advocates of charter schools, battling to shape the future of California schools, ended in a stalemate this year in Sacramento.

As DACA faces a threat of extinction and its participants scramble to determine what to do if those protections disappear, Janet Napolitano and UC are suing the Trump administration to…

HOPE, Ark. — When Shirley Weber and her siblings fled this place as children in 1951 on a midnight train bound for California, their destination seemed so distant and unfamiliar to the relatives who...

Update:  The only teacher shortage bill signed into law in 2017 was Assembly Bill 1157, which is designed to encourage school districts to turn surplus property into employee housing. Gov. Jerry...

Update: Senate Bill 328 to delay school start times stalled in the Assembly during the Legislature’s final days. The author said he’ll revive the proposal in 2018, the second in a...

Like many of his peers, Kaleb Long is mature enough to stay home alone, but not quite old enough for a part-time job. Had he not enrolled in Rosemont High School’s summer learning program, the...

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 19 other states’ chief law enforcement officers issued a letter urging him to save a program that protects nearly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.

Update:  Assembly Bill 19 was signed into law in 2017, paving the way to free community college for full-time, first-year students.    California’s economy is one of the world’s largest, and...

California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most...

Researchers studying California’s new school funding system wish they could track the huge sums of money the state has sent to struggling students, and analyze what districts spent it on. They can’t...

Focus on Fifteen: California’s new funding formula sends more money to schools with foster youth, kids learning English and students from low-income families. To assess how well it’s working, CALmatters…

California's K-12 public schools currently receive more than $7 billion annually from the federal government. The budget plan President Donald Trump released last week would cut at least 6 percent…

Following through on a pledge to undermine so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, the Trump administration has asked California to prove it's cooperating with immigration enforcement—or risk losing some federal grants.

Most Californians in a new poll say they are concerned about the Trump administration's immigration crackdown, and two-thirds want public schools to become "sanctuary safe zones."

Californians have overwhelmingly rejected private school voucher initiatives twice in the last 25 years, but a new poll shows this deep blue state has renewed interest in a policy championed…

Vowing to fight public school profiteering, Democratic state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would either block or seriously limit for-profit companies’ ability to operate charter schools...

Every person has a right to inspect any public record during a public agency’s normal business hours. That’s what the California’s Public Records Act promises, with a few exceptions, but…

Every person has a right to inspect any public record during a public agency’s normal business hours. That’s what the California’s Public Records Act promises, with a few exceptions, but…

Fears about deportation had initially depressed interest in a state-funded scholarship program for undocumented California students, but a campaign to reassure applicants seems to have worked. Applications this year are…

The $300 state grant Devon Graves got his senior year at Cal Poly Pomona was only enough for gas and groceries—it didn’t make his $20,000 in student loans any easier to manage. Still, it meant a lot...

With a historic assist from the vice president, the U.S. Senate today narrowly approved Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education after a series of tense hearings sparked protests…

President Trump appears to be dramatically softening his tone regarding a popular program for immigrant children, telling ABC News that the program’s participants “shouldn’t be very worried” about deportation.

In California and across the country, suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens—a grim reminder that many high school students’ primary barrier to adulthood is themselves. More young...

It’s tough for California voters to say no to more money for school construction. They almost always approve state bond requests, and this month they passed a $9 billion package that backers...

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