EdBrief

Advocates Applaud Bipartisan Federal Legislation to Address Child and Youth Homelessness

March 27, 2017

The Homeless Children and Youth Act was reintroduced in Congress on March 14, signaling a commitment by policymakers to prioritize the well-being of more than 1.2 million homeless children and youth in the United States.

The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio-15) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa-2nd) would re-tool federal homeless assistance delivered by HUD to allow communities to effectively use federal funding to meet the unique developmental needs of children, youth and families.

Specifically, it would allow communities to serve some of the most vulnerable homeless children, youth and families by aligning homeless assistance eligibility criteria with other federal programs...

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Senate Approves Resolution Overturning Rule Regulating Teacher Preparation Programs

March 13, 2017

U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statement on March 9 after the Senate passed H.J. Res. 58, a resolution to overturn the Obama Administration Department of Education’s rule regulating teacher preparation programs.

"This is a win for kids because Washington’s good intentions can’t excuse garbage rules,” said Sasse. “Every single member of the Senate wants good teachers for our kids, but that’s not what the rule was about. Nearly 700 pages were written around the crazy idea that Washington bureaucrats are competent to micromanage thousands of teacher training programs across the country. Our schools, teachers, kids, and communities will have some space to breath and room to succeed when we’ve reversed this absurd micromanaging."

“Overturning this regulation says that states – not a distant department in Washington, D.C. – are responsible for evaluating whether a college’s program gives teachers the skills they need to help their students learn,” said Alexander...

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Proposed Law Would Establish Process to Tackle School Lunch Debts without Publicly Embarrassing Kids

March 13, 2017

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, introduced legislation in February to stop schools from publicly shaming or embarrassing students by either denying them lunch or providing a snack instead because their parents haven’t paid lunch bills, and it directs schools to establish a process for notifying their families about unpaid fees and collecting them.

SB 250 ensures that school officials do not delay or deny food to hungry students as punishment for unpaid school meal fees. Students have a harder time focusing and learning when they are hungry, and 23 percent of California children come from families living below the federal poverty line.

“We know that hunger undercuts a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school,” Hertzberg said. “We also know that embarrassing children in front of peers can destroy their self-confidence. That is why it’s important to stop school lunch shaming and create a different approach for tackling lunch fee debt.”...

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Legislation Would Close Gun Free School Zones Loophole

February 27, 2017

On February 13, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento) introduced Assembly Bill 424 (AB 424), which will close a loophole in California’s Gun Free School Zones law.

While civilian possession of a gun on a school campus is prohibited, a school district can currently authorize an armed civilian with a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit to enter a school campus. A number of California school districts including Folsom Cordova Unified, Kingsburg Joint Union, Anderson Union, and Kern school districts have begun to issue these authorizations, increasing the number of guns on K-12 school campuses and the risk of an on campus shooting.

AB 424 would eliminate this loophole, reducing the number of guns on school campuses, making school campuses safer and fulfilling the original intent of California’s Gun Free School Zones law...

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Torlakson, Kirst Disappointed by Federal Denial of California’s Science Testing Waiver Request

December 19, 2016

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst released a joint statement on December 14 in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of a waiver allowing California to suspend an outdated science assessment and instead give a modernized science test:

“We are deeply disappointed by the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of our waiver request. We reject their insistence that we double-test. We believe the denial of this request harms our students, who will be forced to study science based on state standards adopted in 1998 that are outmoded and not designed for the 21st century.

“California plans to move full-speed ahead implementing our new, computer-adaptive science assessment pilot in 2017 based on our new Next Generation Science Standards.”...

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Governor Signs Three Student Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Bills

October 24, 2016

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed three Assembly bills related to student health emergency preparedness and response in school districts and charter schools.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1719 requires any school district or charter school whose graduation requirements include a health education course to include compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction. AB 1748 authorizes school districts, county offices of education and charter schools to obtain FDA-approved opioid antagonists to administer in the event of an opioid overdose. AB 1386 amends Education Code section 49414 to redefine "epinephrine auto-injector."

AB 1719: Compression-Only CPR Instruction Required in Certain High Schools

Recent studies have shown disproportionately low CPR use and training in low-income communities, rural communities and communities with higher proportions of African-American and Latino residents...

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Attorney General Releases 2016 Truancy Report, Demonstrating Years of Progress, Persistent Challenges

October 24, 2016

On October 19, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued the fourth annual statewide report on elementary school truancy and chronic absenteeism in California, In School + On Track 2016. The report, part of the work of the Department’s Bureau of Children’s Justice, finds that an estimated 210,000 K-5 students in California missed 10% of the school year in 2015-2016, making up 7.3% of elementary students in the state. The report also confirms earlier research on the disproportionately high rates of absenteeism among African American, Native American, and Pacific Islander elementary school students, special education students, and foster and homeless youth. The report does highlight that significant progress is being made, with school districts increasingly taking action to ensure children are in school, on time, every day.

“To be smart on crime and invest wisely in California’s economic future, we must eliminate elementary school truancy,” said Attorney General Harris...

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Governor Signs Law Requiring School Youth Suicide Prevention Plans

October 10, 2016

On September 26, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2246, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach). The bill requires school districts across the state to adopt formal suicide prevention, intervention, and follow-up plans for all middle and high school students. AB 2246 is sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

“As a classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools with the tools they need to help save the lives of at-risk youth.”

AB 2246 is the first bill of its kind in the nation, mandating that all schools with students in grades 7-12 implement suicide prevention policies that specifically address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth...

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House Approves Reauthorization of Carl Perkins Career Technical Education Act

October 10, 2016

In mid-September, the U.S. House of Representatives successfully passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which aims to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act.

H.R. 5587 is a priority for retiring Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce John Kline, R-MN. The House and Senate staffs are currently negotiating a compromise bill that could move through both congressional bodies during a lame duck session. While anything is possible after the elections in November, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is currently proceeding on the assumption that the bill will be sent to the president before the end of the year.

“ACSA will be working with the California Congressional Delegation to ensure the success of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” said Legislative Advocate Laura Preston...

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After 45-year Effort, Students Have Credentialed Teachers Trained in Dance and Theatre

October 10, 2016

California students, living in the arts and entertainment capital of the country, will now be provided education by credentialed Theatre and Dance educators. The Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!), authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) and supported by a coalition of advocates led by the California Alliance for Arts Education, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today.

“Up until now, dance teachers had to get a PE credential to teach dance in California,” says Jessy Kronenberg, Co-President of California Dance Education Association. “PE dance is beneficial for coordination and team-building, but dance as art fosters the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.”

Twice before, legislative efforts to create these credentials were vetoed by the governor at that time...

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New Law Revises Lease-Leaseback Procedures for School Districts

October 10, 2016

Assembly Bill 2316 has now been signed into law by the Governor Jerry Brown in an effort to address uncertainty in the area of lease-leaseback construction projects. Previously, the Court of Appeal decisions in Davis v. Fresno Unified School District (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 261 and McGee v. Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, et al. (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 235 (unpublished), raised significant, conflicting questions about the use of the Education Code’s lease-leaseback statutes for school construction. Among other limitations, the Davis Court held that the school district’s lease was not a “true lease” and as such, was not eligible for exemption from competitive bidding requirements. The Davis Court also held that a potential for conflict of interest under Government Code Section 1090 existed in regard to the contractor’s role on the project including pre-construction services. In the non-binding McGee case, the Court rejected the more stringent Davis finding that competitive bidding was required for a lease-leaseback project. Nevertheless, McGee agreed with Davis on the potential basis for a conflict of interest...

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Governor Signs EpiPen Bill, Blasts “Unconscionable Price Increases” and “Rapacious Corporate Behavior”

September 26, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on September 16 to allow California businesses and public agencies to have on hand medicine designed to combat severe, emergency allergic reactions. But in signing the bill, he offered a stinging critique of a drug company’s recent dramatic price hikes for the medicine.

"State government cannot stop unconscionable price increases, but it can shed light on such rapacious corporate behavior," Brown wrote in a signing message for the bill, AB 1386.

Brown wrote in the message that Mylan, the company that sells the EpiPen, sponsored AB 1386 and similar legislation across the country to expand its use at the same time it was increasing prices 500% to more than $600 for a pack of two and boosting the annual pay of its chief executive to $19 million...

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Bill on Cyber Sexual Bullying at Schools Heads to the Governor

August 29, 2016

On August 24, the California legislature approved AB 2536, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), which addresses the issue of cyber sexual bullying. Specifically, it requires the California Department of Education to post information about the issue on the California Healthy Kids Resource Center internet website, and clarifies that sexual bullying is a part of cyberbullying. This bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

“The act of sexting, which some view as a normal adolescent activity, exposes teens to bullying or harassment when their intimate images are taken without their knowledge or disseminated without their consent," said Assemblymember Chau. “This type of bullying has unfortunately resulted in some teenagers committing suicide, and has left schools at a loss on how to address the complex challenges it presents in providing a safe environment for learning.”...

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California State PTA Endorses Prop. 56, Condemns Tobacco Companies’ Remarks

August 29, 2016

On August 25, the California State PTA endorsed Proposition 56 to keep kids from smoking and reduce the costly, deadly toll of tobacco on California. The 800,000-member advocacy association is the latest powerful education and child advocacy organization to support the initiative that will save lives and reduce youth smoking.

“Nearly 17,000 kids will pick up the smoking habit this year – and one third of them will die as a result. Now the tobacco industry is using candy-flavored e-cigarettes containing nicotine to hook kids into a costly, deadly habit,” said California State PTA President Justine Fischer. “California State PTA is proud to stand up for the health and education of our children with our strong endorsement of Prop. 56. Studies show tobacco taxes reduce teen smoking, and Prop. 56 puts more money for smoking prevention programs right into our classrooms.”...

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Governor Signs Two Attendance-Related Bills

August 22, 2016

On July 25, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed two Assembly bills related to K-12 school district student attendance. Assembly Bill (AB) 2537 indefinitely extends Education Code section 48204 subdivision (b), which permits a student to attend school near where their parent works. Assembly Bill (AB) 1593 makes a student’s attendance at a naturalization ceremony an excused absence.

AB 2537: Interdistrict Transfers Because of Parent Employment to Continue Indefinitely

AB 2537 eliminates the July 1, 2017 expiration date for Education Code section 48204 subdivision (b), commonly referred to as the "Allen Bill." Section 48204 authorizes a school district to allow a non-resident student to attend school in that district so long as at least one of the student’s parents or legal guardians works within the district’s attendance boundaries. In order for a student to seek a transfer or establish residency, the student’s parent or legal guardian must be employed for at least 10 hours per school week within the boundaries of the district. Previously, this provision was due to sunset, or expire, on July 1, 2017. AB 2537 eliminates this expiration date, meaning that school districts can allow Allen Bill attendance to continue indefinitely...

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Kirst, Torlakson Detail Problems with Proposed Federal ESSA Regulations in 10-Page Letter to U.S. Department of Education

August 8, 2016

State Board of Education President Michael Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a 10-page letter to the U.S. Department of Education on August 1 (the final day of the public comment period) detailing California’s concerns regarding proposed federal rules implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“...We submit these comments, which are not intended to reflect the entirety of our concerns with the proposed regulations, but rather to illustrate where they impede progress toward ESSA’s overall goal: to provide states with maximum flexibility while ensuring a focus on improving performance, equity and access, and improvement for all students,” the letter states in its first paragraph.

Among the points raised in the letter:

--“A single summative rating undermines equity by masking disparities within indicators and undercuts the value of a multiple measures system...

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ACLU Report Faults Admissions Policies at Charter Schools

August 8, 2016

More than 20 percent of all charter schools in California have enrollment policies in place that violate state and federal law, according to a new report released on August 1.

Among the myriad violations cited in “Unequal Access” are policies that establish admission requirements in violation of the California Charter Schools Act, which plainly requires charter schools to “admit all pupils who wish to attend,” regardless of academic performance, English proficiency, immigration status or other factors.

“We hope this report brings to light practices that prevent charter schools from fulfilling their obligations to all students who seek access to a quality education,” said Victor Leung, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal). “The report should make it clear to all charter school authorizers and operators that they must play on a level playing field and cannot cherry-pick the students they enroll.”...

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Senate Education Committee Leaders Urge More Time for States to Develop New Accountability Systems

August 8, 2016

On August 1, Senate education committee leaders requested changes to the Education Department’s proposed accountability rule to allow more time for states working to develop their new accountability system under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

In a letter to Secretary of Education Dr. John King, Jr., Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called on the Education Department to allow states to implement their new accountability systems in 2017-18, and begin to identify new schools for improvement in 2018-19 as the new law fixing No Child Left Behind intended.

Senator Alexander said: “When Congress wrote the new law fixing No Child Left Behind, we envisioned the states would have time to plan for the transition to the new law – but we’ve heard the department’s proposed regulation doesn’t allow enough time for states to do this...

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Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Marcia Fudge Introduce Stronger Together School Diversity Act of 2016

July 25, 2016

On July 12, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (Ohio-11), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced the Stronger Together School Diversity Act of 2016 to promote diversity in schools. The bill builds on President Obama’s FY 2017 Stronger Together budget proposal, and consists of a voluntary program to support the development and expansion of new and existing community-driven strategies to increase diversity in America’s schools. In June, Murphy joined U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. at an event in the U.S. Capitol to discuss the opportunity for increased diversity in schools and communities to drive positive student outcomes in school and in life.

An April 2016 Government Accountability Office report found that the number of socioeconomic and racially segregated schools is increasing, negatively impacting students nationwide...

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Bills to Watch: ACSA Tracking Key Legislation

July 25, 2016

Bills on the Move.jpg

As the Legislature prepares to come back from its summer recess on August 1, there will be a flurry of activity, as both houses have exactly one month to pass bills and send them to the governor.

The Association of California School Administrators’ Governmental Relations is working on dozens of K-12 related bills, and following is a partial list:

  1. AB 2835, Cooper. This bill was recently amended to require public agencies, including schools, to collectively bargain orientation meetings for new and existing employees and require 30 minutes within the first hour of the orientation for unions to talk to their members. The bill passed out of Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee and is now in Appropriations. ACSA position: Oppose.
  2. SB 799, Hill. This is a compromise proposal on the school district budget reserve cap. It would raise the cap to 17 percent from the current 6 percent. It would exempt small school and basic aid districts from the cap. It did not get out of Education committee. ACSA position: Support....

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CSBA Following These Bills as Legislature Returns on August 1

July 25, 2016

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) is following several key bills that await fiscal hearings and floor votes when the Legislature reconvenes from its summer recess on August 1, while others are unlikely to advance in 2016. The summer recess began on July 1; the 2015-16 legislative session ends on August 31. Here is CSBA’s rundown.

(Note: Fixing the reserve cap is still very much an active issue in 2016, and a legislative solution can still be reached before the current session ends.)

AB 934 (Bonilla, D-Concord) – Certificated school employees
A key bill addressing a number of the issues raised in the Vergara v. California lawsuit will not advance after being held by the Senate Education Committee today, after more than 90 minutes of zealous testimony and discussion from the bill’s author, education groups, teachers, administrators and members of the Committee...

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Four Ballot Measures in November Endorsed by CSBA

July 6, 2016

The California School Boards Association will support four statewide initiatives which are eligible or are in the process of qualifying for the November 2016 statewide ballot, including the “The California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016” and the “Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016.”

“The California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act of 2016”
CSBA Position: Support

Submitted to the Secretary of State for verification of signatures, this measure would temporarily extend the income tax provisions of Proposition 30 for 12 years. Extending these income tax provisions, which will otherwise sunset in 2018, could generate as much as $4 billion annually for K-12 education...

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Torlakson Supporting Several Bills to Address Teacher Shortage

June 13, 2016

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said on June 8 that legislation is advancing at the state Capitol to help address a growing shortage of teachers in California.

Several bills moved forward last week as the Legislature faced a bill deadline. Torlakson spoke in favor of the legislation at a Capitol news conference earlier in the year, when legislators introduced new measures to recruit more educators and help them earn teaching credentials.

“I will continue to work with all members of the Legislature who want to help talented and committed people enter this rewarding profession,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a science teacher and coach. “I am spreading the message when I speak at the state Capitol and at schools and events all around the state: California needs more teachers. Teaching is a wonderful profession with challenges – but also great rewards. Teachers have the opportunity to have a profound positive impact in a young person’s life.”...

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Court Decisions, Pending Legislation Make for Complicated Situation Regarding Lease Leaseback Construction Contracts

May 16, 2016

Two recent court decisions, as well as a bill that is currently making its way through the California Legislature, have made for a complicated situation regarding “lease leaseback” contracts that some California school districts have used for the construction of new facilities.

On May 4, the California Second District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a taxpayer advocate’s lawsuit that claimed the Torrance Unified School District circumvented a law requiring government entities to hire the lowest bidder on construction projects. The decision was widely interpreted as favoring school districts’ use of lease leaseback contracts.

According to the Torrance Daily Breeze:

The ruling by the California Second District Court of Appeal, published this week, might “significantly affect school districts throughout California” that use so called lease leaseback agreements with contractors, Torrance district officials said in a statement...

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Governor Signs Bills Requiring Schools to be Tobacco Free, Raising Legal Age to Buy Tobacco Products to 21

May 16, 2016

On May 5, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of tobacco-related bills, including a bills requiring all schools to be tobacco free, increasing the age of purchase for tobacco products from 18 to 21, closing loopholes in the state’s smoke-free workplace laws, establishing a tobacco licensing fee program under the state Board of Equalization and, importantly, classifying electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.

The five bills signed by the Governor were:

--AB 9 X2, by Assemblymen Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks, requires all schools to be tobacco free.

--SB 5 X2, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products, making them subject to smoke-free laws, age restrictions and other rules governing tobacco products...

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Two Reports Examine Changes in School Accountability Under Provisions of ESSA

May 2, 2016

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with the flexibility and responsibility to design and implement new systems of accountability, support, and intervention. Two new reports, published jointly by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), provide timely research and evidence-based examples for educators and policy makers looking to leverage ESSA to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all children.

The reports, Redesigning School Accountability and Support: Progress in Pioneering States and Pathways to New Accountability Through the Every Student Succeeds Act offer valuable guidance for schools, districts and states looking to re-imagine their systems of support, improvement, opportunity, and accountability.

“Accountability is not a side issue. In recent years, for good or for ill, it has become the framework shaping how we think about the improvement of schools,” notes LPI President Linda Darling-Hammond...

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Bills on Student Sexting and Cyberbullying, Pre-K Programs, Theater/Dance Teaching Advance

May 2, 2016

On April 20, the Assembly Committee on Education approved AB 2536, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), which clarifies that sexting, with the purpose or effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil, is a part of cyberbullying and incorporates sexting curriculum as a part of comprehensive sex education programs.

“Many teens who consider sexting normal are not only at risk of facing serious legal consequences, but are also subject to acts of bullying or harassment when their intimate images are taken without their knowledge or disseminated without their consent," said Assemblymember Chau. “This presents a complex challenge to schools as they strive to provide safe environments for learning.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a recent survey found that 20 percent of teenage boys and girls have sent a sext message...

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Bill Repealing 2014 Cap on School District Financial Reserves Voted Down in Senate Committee

May 2, 2016

On a partisan vote on April 20, the Senate Education Committee voted down Senate Bill 1249 by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) that would have restored the full ability of school districts to save money in reserve accounts.

"Saving money for the future helps the financial well-being of local schools by avoiding painful cuts when the next economic downturn hits," said Bates. "Unfortunately, Sacramento is living in an alternate reality where current law caps the amount a school district can save for a rainy day. There is no good reason to keep this cap other than to please special interests who want more money for their needs rather than the students."

SB 1249 (“Save Our Schools Act of 2016”) would have repealed controversial legislation that Governor Jerry Brown signed in 2014 that ties the hands of school district leaders by forcing them to spend fiscal reserves instead of using them to plan in the best interest of their students...

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Senators Announce Legislation to Strengthen College Readiness for Low-Income High School Students

April 18, 2016

On April 8, a group of California State Senators announced legislation to better prepare California public school students from poor and working families for admission to state colleges and universities.

“With this measure, we are hoping to strengthen the pipeline for underserved communities to our public institutions of higher learning to give all students – regardless of their economic status – a chance to succeed,” Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said at a press conference at San Gabriel High School.

The measure, SB 1050, incentivizes school districts and charter schools to provide access to more rigorous coursework with K-12 teacher development in college-readiness subjects and grant money to help low-income students qualify for postsecondary institutions...

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Assembly Committee Passes Student Privacy Reforms in Aftermath of Morgan Hill Ruling

April 18, 2016

Legislation to institute new student privacy protections ensuring that students’ personal information like Social Security Numbers are appropriately protected at the school district level passed the Assembly Education Committee on April 13 on a unanimous 7-0 vote. The bill was authored by California State Assemblymembers Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles).

A recent ruling in Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et al. v. California Department of Education compelled the school system to provide sensitive information – including social security numbers, mental health and medical information – for students dating back to 2008 to a parents group in Santa Clara County. Assembly Bill 2097 would prohibit school districts from gathering social security numbers and other sensitive unnecessary information for students except where required by federal law...

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Assembly Committee Approves Bill Extending Number of Days a Substitute Teacher May Serve in Special Education Classroom

April 18, 2016

The Assembly Education Committee has approved the ACSA-sponsored bill AB 2336, which will extend the number of days a substitute teacher may serve in a special education classroom.

“Special education students have been greatly harmed by California’s teacher shortage,” said Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Riverbank), the author of AB 2336. “This bill will provide more consistency for some of our most vulnerable students by slowing down the rotation of substitute teachers.”

If passed by both houses and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, AB 2336 would increase the number of days that a special education substitute teacher is able to serve in one classroom to 40. Current law restricts the number of days to 20. The bill specifies that a substitute teacher must be given six hours of training prior to the service extension and be provided with ongoing support by a fully credentialed teacher...

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Advocacy Group StudentsFirst Downsizes in California, Merges with Group in Nation’s Capital

April 4, 2016

The Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee and other news organizations report last week that Sacramento-based StudentsFirst – an advocacy group launched by former Washington DC schools chief Michelle Rhee in 2010 – is downsizing its staff in Sacramento and merging with the Washington DC advocacy group 50Can.

On March 29, the Los Angeles Times reported that:

Some of StudentsFirst’s remaining chapters will be absorbed into 50Can, which has similar goals. The most well-known objective of Rhee’s group was to become a counterweight to teachers unions. StudentsFirst expects to cut its staff significantly but will maintain a small presence in its national office. Jim Blew, the group’s president, confirmed the news.

Blew will step aside from the national organization, and the merged group will be called 50Can, though each group’s local offices will retain their own names. Blew will lead StudentsFirst California, the merged group’s state presence, and will focus on litigation and issues such as school accountability. The combined group will be led by 50Can Chief Executive Marc Porter Magee...

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Legislation Tightening Status of California Schools as “Tobacco-Free” Zones Clears Senate, Assembly

March 21, 2016

Legislation that would require California schools to implement and enforce tobacco-free campus policies appears to be headed for the Governor’s desk.

In the Daily Californian, staff writer Sareen Habeshian reported that:

“On March 10, the California Senate passed a bill that requires California schools to implement and enforce tobacco-free campus policies.

The bill, known as AB 2X-9, requires that every school in California have a sign at its entrance stating that tobacco use is prohibited. The bill also expands the definition of tobacco to include products such as e-cigarettes and other forms of smokeless tobacco, thereby ensuring that these products are prohibited on campuses.

Assembly member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), who sponsored the bill, emphasized that the goal of the legislation is to make all campuses in California smoke-free in order to protect children from the dangers of smoking...

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Torlakson Applauds Federal Court Order Strengthening Student Privacy Protections in Morgan Hill Case

March 7, 2016

On March 4, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded a federal court order strengthening protections for student data in the case of Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association vs. California Department of Education.

"The court has heard loud and clear from California’s families that they want their students’ privacy protected. This is a good first step. The court responded to these concerns and ordered additional measures to safeguard data," Torlakson said. "The California Department of Education will continue to fight vigorously to protect student privacy rights as this case proceeds."

In her March 1 order, U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller noted the large number of objections to the potential release of student data received by the court following the posting of the Notice of Disclosure of Student Records on February 1. In response to the objections, the court ordered that the CDE maintain custody of the most sensitive of its databases, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), while running searches for information requested by the plaintiffs...

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PTA, CSBA, ACSA Leaders Call for Court Order to Protect Student Privacy in Special Education Case

By California State PTA Executive Director Sherry Griffith, CSBA Executive Director Vernon M. Billy and ACSA Executive Director Wesley Smith
Rep: March 7, 2016

When parents entrust a child to public schools, the system accepts a special responsibility to protect and enrich the student. That responsibility includes safeguarding personal information – a right guaranteed by state and federal law.

Yet, a recent federal court order threatens student privacy rights by forcing the California Department of Education to release as many as 10 million student records containing names, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, as well as sensitive information on behavior, academic performance and health.

If you attended a California public school since 2008, have a child who did, or have a student currently in California schools, your private records could be shared with attorneys suing the Department of Education over whether school districts are providing appropriate special education services...

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U.S. Department of Education Proposes New Rule Impacting Special Education Programs

March 7, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education proposed a new rule impacting special education programs on February 23. In an announcement in Washington, the department said:

The U.S. Department of Education took a critical step today toward addressing widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities, proposing a new rule to improve equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The nation’s special education law, IDEA, aims to ensure fairness in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities. Yet disparities persist, and students of color remain more likely to be identified as having a disability and face harsher discipline than their white classmates.

In order to address those inequities, IDEA requires states to identify districts with "significant disproportionality" in special education – that is, when districts identify, place outside the regular classroom, or discipline children from any racial or ethnic group at markedly higher rates than their peers...

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Proposed Theatre and Dance Act Would Establish New Single-Subject Teaching Credentials

February 22, 2016

Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica), chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, introduced legislation on January 26 to establish single-subject teaching credentials for dance and theatre.

“California is the arts and entertainment capital of the world, and it is fitting that we recognize the importance of dance and theatre as vital elements of our arts curriculum,” Allen said. “How is it possible that ours is one of only two states in the country that does not have specific credentials for dance or theatre?” he added.

The legislation, Senate Bill 916 – the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!) – was proposed in response to concerns raised at a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Arts held last fall on the status of visual and performing arts in schools. A variety of stakeholders from the arts community raised concern about the lack of stand-alone credentials for dance and theatre...

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Senate Bills Take Aim at Tackling California’s Growing Shortage of Teachers

February 22, 2016

Following on the heels of a Senate Education Committee hearing that highlighted the severity of a growing shortage of qualified teachers in California, three senators are proposing legislation to address the crisis.

After years of decline during the lean budget years that followed the Great Recession, the demand for teachers is again on the rise, as districts hired an estimated 20,000 new teachers for the current school year. This comes at a time when enrollment in teacher preparation programs at state universities has plunged – falling by 75 percent from 2001 to 2014.

As a result, school districts are increasingly being forced to hire individuals who are not fully prepared. The state Commission on Teacher Credentialing reports that nearly 8,000 teachers with substandard credentials or provisional permits were working in California classrooms in the 2014–15 school year – a 63 percent increase from just two years earlier...

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State’s “District of Choice” Law Sized Up by Legislative Analyst’s Office

February 8, 2016

 

(Editor’s note: On January 27, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report on the state’s “District of Choice” law, which is scheduled to sunset in 2017, and is up for possible reauthorization. Below is the Executive Summary of the LAO’s report. At the end of the Executive Summary is a link to the complete report.)

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Executive Summary:

State Faces Key Decision About Whether to Reauthorize “District of Choice” Program. A state law adopted in 1993 allows students to transfer to school districts that have deemed themselves Districts of Choice. Two main features distinguish this program from other interdistrict transfer laws. First, Districts of Choice must agree to accept interested students regardless of their academic abilities or personal characteristics. Second, interested students generally do not need to seek permission from their home districts. With the program scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2017, the state now faces a key decision about whether to reauthorize it. This report responds to a legislative requirement that we evaluate the program and provide recommendations concerning its future...

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New Legislation Would Expand Equal Restroom Access in California

February 8, 2016

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced legislation to establish the nation's most progressive restroom access law among the states. AB 1732 would require single-occupancy restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and public spaces to be identified as "all gender."

"Restrooms are a necessity of life. Access to them influences our ability to participate in public life," said Ting. "Signs restricting single-use restroom access by gender create problems of convenience, fairness, and safety. They defy common sense, which is why many of us ignore them. ‘All gender’ signs will end these problems and ensure everyone’s rights are protected."

"Having access to a restroom without restrictions based on one’s gender identity simply makes sense," said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), a principal co-author of the bill. "All gender restrooms will enhance dignity and safety for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in their daily lives."...

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SBE Votes to Seek Relief from Provisions of Outdated Federal No Child Left Behind Act

January 25, 2016

The State Board of Education (SBE) voted on January 13 to take the first step toward relieving school districts in California from complying with two key provisions of the outdated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

During its regularly scheduled meeting in Sacramento, the SBE authorized two waiver requests for provisions involving Title I schools, which have high numbers and high percentages of students from low-income families. The waivers would give California districts more flexibility to use federal funding for programs and services they believe would best improve academic achievement.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson strongly supports the action. "California districts should be given the flexibility contained in the new Every Student Succeeds Act without having to comply with burdensome provisions of No Child Left Behind," he said...

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NSBA Applauds Bipartisan Effort to Reauthorize Child Nutrition Act

January 25, 2016

On January 19, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), in a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, expressed its qualified support of the Improving Child Nutrition, Integrity and Access Act of 2016 (ICNIA) in advance of the legislative committee markup of the bill on January 20.

“The Child Nutrition, Integrity and Access Act is an important and promising first step toward incorporating the local school district governance perspective in implementation of school meal programs, and ensuring a healthy and positive learning environment for children to achieve their full potential,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association, in the letter.

The ICNIA would be the first reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act since December 2010, when President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) into law...

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U.S. Department of Education Takes First Steps in Transition to Every Student Succeeds Act

January 11, 2016

On December 18, the U.S. Department of Education took the first steps toward implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which President Obama signed into law on December 10 to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replace key requirements of the outdated No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The Department launched the rulemaking process by publishing in the Federal Register a Request for Information (RFI) seeking advice and recommendations for Title I regulations under ESSA.

The Department also issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states to clarify some initial steps as states, districts and schools transition to the new law and signal the Department's commitment to facilitating a smooth transition to the new law – with minimal disruption to students, families, teachers, and schools – while ensuring compliance with all ESSA transition provisions...

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Bill Overhauls No Child Left Behind

Senate Approves Bi-Partisan “Every Student Succeeds Act,” and President Obama Signs Legislation

December 10, 2015

On Wednesday (December 9), the United States Senate voted 85-12 to approve the Every Student Succeeds Act, designed “to fix No Child Left Behind,” sponsored by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The House of Representatives approved the bill last week, 359-64. President Barack Obama signed the bill in a White House ceremony on Thursday morning.

President Obama described the bill as “a big step in the right direction” for federal education policy, and “a true bipartisan effort... This law focuses on the national goal of ensuring that all of our students graduate (from high school) prepared for college and future careers. In today’s economy, a high-quality education is a prerequisite for success.”

“After more than ten years, members of Congress from both parties have come together to revise our national education law,” the President added. “This bill makes long overdue fixes to the last education law (No Child Left Behind, passed in 2001). It replaces a one-size-fits-all approach to reform.”...

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House-Senate Conference Committee Approves Framework to “Fix No Child Left Behind”

November 30, 2015

On November 20, the House-Senate conference committee reached agreement on a proposal to improve K-12 education and replace No Child Left Behind. The agreement represents a compromise between the House-passed Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177).

No Child Left Behind has been failing students, parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders for far too long, and today we took an important step in replacing this flawed law,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “But there is still work to be done. We now have to turn this framework into a final bill for our House and Senate colleagues to review. I am confident that once they do, they will see it as an opportunity to replace a failed approach to education with a new approach that will reduce the federal role, restore local control, and empower parents. We will continue to work with all of our colleagues in the House as we move this important process forward.”...

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Community Colleges Celebrate Legislation Expanding High School Students’ Access to College Classes

November 12, 2015

On November 4, California Community Colleges Board of Governors President Geoffrey L. Baum and Assembly Majority Leader Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) celebrated the signing of legislation that will expand high school students’ access to college level coursework, providing them with an early opportunity to acquire academic skills that will help them succeed in college. A ceremony was held at Pasadena City College to mark the occasion.

Holden’s Assembly Bill 288 will create partnerships between high schools and community colleges to allow a broader range of students to take college-level courses at their high schools or on college campuses – what is known as concurrent or dual enrollment. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in October.

“Expanding dual enrollment is critical because it increases opportunities for students to pursue certificates and degrees or transfer to four-year institutions,” said Board of Governors President Baum...

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CTA Backs Ballot Measure to Extend Proposition 30

October 29, 2015

To protect California’s lean public school funding and keep the state budget balanced, the California Teacher Association’s top governing body of teacher delegates voted on October 25 to endorse a vital new ballot measure that would temporarily extend voter-approved Proposition 30’s income tax increases on the wealthiest income earners.

The Alliance for a Better California coalition, of which CTA is a part of, began the campaign for the School Funding and Budget Stability Act measure in September by submitting the ballot measure language to the state Attorney General’s Office. The CTA State Council of Education, comprised of nearly 800 democratically-elected educator delegates, officially backed the initiative during its quarterly meeting here.

The Alliance of labor, school, community and public safety groups is strongly committed to collecting enough signatures to getting the initiative on the November 2016 ballot and passing it, said CTA President Eric Heins...

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Responding to Complaints, Obama Proposes Less Federal Emphasis on Standardized Testing

October 29, 2015

Faced with a steadily rising tide of complaints from parents and teachers that students are spending too much of the school year taking an assortment of government-mandated standardized tests, President Barack Obama rolled out a plan during the past week that he said would prevent “over-testing” of the nation’s students.

“I’ve heard from parents who worry that too much testing is keeping their kids from learning some of life’s most important lessons. I’ve heard from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning, both for them and for the students. I want to fix that,” President Obama said in a White House blog post on October 26 headlined “An Open Letter to America’s Parents and Teachers: Let’s Make Our Testing Smarter.” Some of the president’s remarks were also released through social media in the form of a three-minute video posted on the White House Facebook page.

On the same day, the U.S. Department of Education posted a “fact sheet” for the Obama Administration’s “Testing Action Plan.” The document included something of a mea culpa on the administration’s part...

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Petition Drive to Repeal Vaccine Mandate Comes Up Short

Governor Brown Signs – and Vetoes – Several Bills Impacting K-12 Education

October 15, 2015

In a flurry of activity during the past two weeks, Governor Jerry Brown signed – and vetoed – a number of bills that will impact K-12 education.

In addition, the California Secretary of State’s office announced on October 8 that a proposed ballot proposition which would have repealed California’s new vaccine mandate law (signed by Gov. Brown in June) failed to gather enough valid signatures, and will not be on the ballot. The vaccine mandate bill was introduced by Sen. Richard Pan – who is a pediatrician – after a measles outbreak in late 2014. The new law (SB 277) eliminates the ability of parents to exempt their children from the vaccine requirements based on personal or religious beliefs. Those behind the proposed referendum were angry at what they saw was the state usurping their responsibility as parents to make medical decisions for their children. Many of them also do not believe scientific studies indicating vaccines are safe and necessary to avoid outbreaks of serious diseases including measles...

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Advocacy Efforts Continue on ESEA

October 15, 2015

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and its federal advocacy partners descended on Washington, D.C. recently to encourage Congressional representatives to support the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and discuss other key federal issues.

ACSA Legislative Advocate Laura Preston and California School Boards Association representatives Erika Hoffman and Dennis Meyers joined federal advocates Reg Leichty and Amy Starzynski from Foresight Law + Policy to meet with federal lawmakers. ACSA and CSBA joined forces to hire the D.C.-based Leichty and Starzynski last year to represent educational management positions on an ongoing basis and increase federal advocacy efforts, per the ACSA Strategic Plan...

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National Governors Association Urges Conference Committee Action on ESEA Reauthorization, Outlines Priorities

October 1, 2015

As Congress prepares to conference bills reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s governors released principles and priorities to guide the committee during their negotiations and urged completion of the law this year.

“Governors have long called for the bipartisan reauthorization of ESEA to restore the state-federal partnership,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, chair of the National Governors Association Education and Workforce Committee. “We stand ready to work with Congress to complete ESEA reauthorization this year and move on to a state-led law that places every child on a path to success.”

“Every state, school and classroom needs the certainty and fairness of a flexible federal education law that seeks to close achievement gaps and ensure every student receives a strong foundation for success in life,” said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, vice chair of the committee...

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ACSA, CSBA Recommendations on National School Lunch Act Delivered to Congress

October 1, 2015

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)-California School Boards Association (CSBA) Federal Partnership has submitted a letter to leading Congressional representatives expressing the group’s recommendations and priorities for the reauthorization of the National School Lunch Act.

The group recommended a maintained expansion with a simplification of the direct certification process, the automatic certification of foster children, and the establishment of community eligibility. The partnership noted that these have enabled schools to serve more students with nutrition needs and, at the same time, have lessened the application and enrollment burdens put on school staff and parents.

Another area covered was equity in school lunch pricing. By requiring schools to assess and address gaps in the price students are charged for paid meals relative to free and paid meal reimbursement rates, and setting revenue expectations for non-reimbursable foods sold at schools, increases program transparency and efficiency...

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Bill to Protect Students from School Math Misplacement Approved by State Assembly

Rep: September 17, 2015

SACRAMENTO — A measure to protect students from being relegated to less challenging mathematics classes – even though they meet the academic requirements for more demanding courses – was approved on September 3 by the State Assembly, and approved by the State Senate on September 4, and is close to becoming state law.

SB 359, authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell, passed out of the Assembly unanimously, garnering bipartisan support. The bill requires public school districts to develop and adhere to performance and assessment-based standards for assigning youths to math courses, a first step in remedying the growing problem of “math misplacement,” which can impede a capable student’s progress both in learning math and advancing toward higher education and career goals.

A number of studies – including from the Noyce Foundation, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley Community Foundation – found that African American and Latino students, in particular, were improperly held back in nine Bay Area school districts despite having demonstrated proficiency on state standardized math tests...

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Considering Bills on “Redskins” Nickname, CAHSEE

Governor Brown Signs Legislation Capping Superintendent Severance Pay

September 17, 2015

On September 2, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 215, which was introduced by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) earlier this year. Assembly Bill 215 reduces the severance package a school superintendent may receive. After various unsuccessful legislative attempts to pass similar legislation and adamant opposition, this bill addresses concerns that have long plagued local schools and their efforts to narrow resources to benefit students.

“I am very pleased that the Governor recognized and honored the legislature’s efforts in creating a solution to this unique issue,” states Alejo.  “By placing limits on cash settlements, we save money for students, begin to improve our schools administrative processes, and demonstrate fiscal discipline in the administration of taxpayer dollars.”

Currently, when a superintendent’s contract of employment is terminated, he or she is eligible for a severance pay of up to eighteen times their monthly salary, which can potentially be very costly...

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Governor Signs Bill Fixing Snafu

Torlakson Urges High School Diplomas be Granted Now to All Students Affected by Recent CAHSEE Legislation

September 3, 2015

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on August 28 urged all local educational agencies throughout the state to immediately begin issuing diplomas to those students who have met all other high school graduation requirements in the 2014-15 school year except the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

Senate Bill 725, authored by Senator Loni Hancock, passed by legislators, and signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown, eliminated the CAHSEE requirement for an estimated 5,000 students who were unable to take the July exit exam after the test was no longer available.

“This is a key part of the legislation the California Department of Education sponsored back in February to assure students would still get their high school diplomas and thus be assured of their admission to our four-year universities would not be impeded,” Torlakson said...

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ACSA/CSBA Urge Action on ESEA Bill

September 17, 2015

As part of the federal partnership between the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the California School Boards Association (CSBA), a formal position has been submitted to the federal government addressing joint priorities and recommendations for a final Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization meeting the needs of California’s 6.2 million public school students.

“ESEA provides the backbone for much of the work done by educators, administrators and policymakers in every community nationwide,” said Laura Preston, ACSA Governmental Relations advocate. “In the face of significant change like the rapid diversification of many cities and towns, persistent economic pressures, growing workforce needs, as well as promising innovations, ESEA should continue to serve as a driver of high expectations, as well as a backstop against inequity and persistent gaps in student achievement.”...

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Governor Signs New Student Residency Bills

August 20, 2015

On August 11, 2015, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1101 (“AB 1101”) requiring that, before a school district can undertake an investigation to determine whether a student meets residency requirements for attendance, its governing board must first adopt a policy regarding the conduct of such investigations. AB 1101 becomes effective on January 1, 2016. Also on August 11, the governor signed Senate Bill 200 (“SB 200”), which revises rules for compliance with residency requirements in certain circumstances when a student’s parent or guardian resides outside district boundaries.

AB 1101, which adds section 48204.2 to the Education Code, requires a residency investigation policy to comply with all of the following requirements:

  1. Identify the circumstances upon which the district may initiate an investigation, which must, at a minimum, require the district employee to be able to identify specific, articulable facts supporting the belief that the parent or legal guardian of the pupil has provided false or unreliable evidence of residency...

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House, Senate Leaders Discuss Conference Committee Efforts to Replace No Child Left Behind

August 6, 2015

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and House Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) met on July 30 to discuss proceeding with a conference committee to resolve differences in the House- and Senate-passed bills to replace the much-criticized Bush-era No Child Left Behind legislation – which would be the long-delayed renewal of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Rep. Kline said: “There is a lot of work to do in the coming months, and I am confident we will be able to craft a bicameral education bill that reduces the federal role, restores local control, and empowers parents and education leaders. Those are the kind of education reforms the American people expect and we must deliver. I look forward to continuing this important effort and putting in place new policies that will help every child in every school receive an excellent education.”...

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Action Now Moves to House-Senate Conference Committee

Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to “Fix No Child Left Behind” by Solid 81-to-17 Margin

July 23, 2015

On July 16, the U.S. Senate – acting on a decisive vote of 81 to 17 – approved the “Every Child Achieves Act,” the bipartisan agreement by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to “fix the No Child Left Behind” law.

Alexander said: “Last week, Newsweek Magazine called this the ‘law that everyone wants to fix’ – and today the Senate’s shown that not only is there broad consensus on the need to fix this law – remarkably, there's also broad consensus on how to fix it. This is the consensus: continue the law's important measurements of students' academic progress but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about the results of those tests.

“On the Senate floor, we’ve considered 78 amendments, adopted 65 and passed a bill that says that the path to higher standards, better teaching and real accountability is through the states and local communities, not Washington, D.C. Now our job is to work with the House to produce a conference report that we can send to the president’s desk.”...

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Assemblymember Introduces Bill to Raise Minimum Smoking Age from 18 to 21

July 23, 2015

On July 16, Assemblyman Jim Wood DDS introduced legislation that would raise California’s legal minimum smoking age from 18 to 21. ABX 8-2 will be part of the legislature’s 2nd extraordinary session tasked with funding California’s sorely underfunded healthcare system plain and simple.

“Tobacco use costs Californian’s an estimated $18.1 billion every year. 90% of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 21,” said Wood. “If we can cut tobacco use we can save money – it is as simple as that. We must find a way to adequately fund healthcare in this state, part of that is cutting costs. This is a good financial decision and one that will lead to a healthier California, plain and simple.”

Last year, as the mayor of Healdsburg, Dr. Wood worked to pass a similar measure making Healdsburg the first city in California to make selling tobacco to anyone under the age of 21 illegal...

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Senate Begins Debate on Bipartisan Bill to Overhaul No Child Left Behind, a “Law That Everyone Wants to Fix”

July 9, 2015

On Tuesday (July 7), as the United States Senate began to debate the bipartisan bill by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) to “fix No Child Left Behind,” Alexander said the bill reflects the shared belief by both Democrats and Republicans that lawmakers should respect the judgments of those closest to the children “and leave to them most decisions about how to help 3.4 million teachers help 50 million children in 100,000 public schools improve student achievement.”

Alexander said: “Newsweek Magazine this week called (No Child Left Behind) the ‘law that everyone wants to fix.’ There’s broad consensus about that. And remarkably, there’s also consensus about how to fix it. That consensus is this: that we should continue the law’s important measurements of students’ academic progress but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about the results of these measurements.”...

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Vaccine Mandate Bill Clears Assembly on 46-30 Vote

June 25, 2015

The California Assembly approved SB 277 – the much-discussed vaccine mandate bill – on a 46-30 vote on Thursday morning, after less than two hours of debate.

Once again, there were several hundred opponents of the bill (many of them wearing red t-shirts), on hand at the State Capitol to protest.

The bill now goes to the California Senate, which will review the amendments made to the bill in the Assembly. The Senate approved SB 277 last month, and is expected to approve the Assembly amendments. Then the bill will go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who thus far has not disclosed his position on the issue. Brown could either sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow the bill to become law without his signature...

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Ten National Education Groups Urge Senate to Bring ESEA Reauthorization to Floor for a Vote

June 25, 2015

Ten national education groups – representing educators, principals, school boards, superintendents, chief state school officers, parents and PTAs, and school business officials – held a press conference in the nation’s capital on June 23 to urge the U.S. Senate to bring the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill to the floor for a vote.

The Senate reauthorization bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act, passed unanimously and in a bipartisan fashion in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on April 16. No date has been set for debate and vote by the full Senate. The previous version of the ESEA expired in 2007. The ten education groups are in full agreement that the Senate needs to finish the job and bring the bill to the floor as soon as possible...

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U.S. Senate to Begin Debate on Bipartisan Bill for ESEA Renewal on July 7

June 25, 2015

Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that the Senate would take up their bipartisan agreement to “fix No Child Left Behind” on Tuesday, July 7, said they look forward to an open debate on the Every Child Achieves Act (a renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA), which passed unanimously out of committee in April.

“The consensus that Senator Murray and I, along with the entire Senate education committee, have found is this: Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement,” said Alexander. “In the Senate education committee, we had three days of discussion and debate, considered 57 amendments, approved 29 – improving the bipartisan agreement Senator Murray and I reached...

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Bill to Phase out Nickname “Redskins” for School Athletic Teams, Mascots, Moves Forward

June 25, 2015

On June 17, Assembly Bill 30, authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), cleared the Senate Education Committee with a vote of 7 to 1. AB 30 will establish the “California Racial Mascots Act,” phasing out the use of the term “Redskins” as a school or athletic team name, mascot, or nickname in California public schools.

“California has the largest number of Native Americans in the country, it’s time we as a state take a stand against racial slurs used by our public schools,” said Alejo. “This is part of a national movement and now is the time for us here in California to end the use of this derogatory term in our public schools.” If signed into law, California will be the first state in the country to pass a law phasing out the use of the term "Redskins" as a school or athletic team name, mascot, or nickname...

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Poll Finds Broad Support for Vaccine Requirement, Less Support for Extending Proposition 30

June 11, 2015

A recent poll conducted on behalf of the Public Policy Institute of California, roughly half of adults surveyed indicated that they support extending Proposition 30, the 2012 ballot measure that authorized temporary taxes to fund schools.

The PPIC’s poll, released on June 3, surveyed the opinions of California voters on a variety of topics, ranging from California’s drought to the Governor’s May Budget Revision. On the topic of taxation, the PPIC’s press statement regarding the poll said:

Vaccinations for School Children

The legislature is debating a bill that would eliminate personal-belief and religious exemptions to the requirement that parents vaccinate their children before enrolling them in kindergarten...

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Native American Student Wins Right to Wear Eagle Feather at Graduation

June 11, 2015

On June 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California reached a settlement agreement with the Clovis Unified School District on behalf of Christian Titman, a graduating senior who is Native American who wished to wear an eagle feather during the graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 4. He will be allowed to wear the eagle feather in his hair during the entire ceremony and attach the feather on his cap for the traditional tassel turn.

"Christian and his family are thrilled," said Novella Coleman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "The eagle feather represents Christian's academic achievement and has important cultural and religious significance. It's deeply meaningful that he will be able to wear an eagle feather presented to him by his father during the graduation ceremony."...

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Vaccine Mandate Bill Clears Assembly Committee, Heads for Floor Vote

June 11, 2015

The hotly-contested vaccine mandate bill cleared the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday (June 9) on a 12-6 vote – but only after more noisy protests and another marathon hearing filled with passionate testimony for and against the legislation.

The bill – SB 277, authored by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) – now advances to a floor vote in the California Assembly. It has already been approved by the California Senate, so if the Assembly approves the bill, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

SB 277 was introduced following an outbreak of the measles which thought to have spread at Disneyland. The bill would end (in most cases) the “personal belief exemption” allowing California parents to enroll their child in school without having their child fully vaccinated against various diseases...

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After Senate Approval, Vaccine Bill Awaits Action in Assembly

May 28, 2015

Having cleared the California Senate on May 14 in a 25-10 floor vote, the much-discussed California vaccine law now awaits action in the California Assembly.

Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento and Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) made a number of last-minute amendments to their bill (SB 277) during the days leading up to the Senate floor vote, including changes that apparently made the bill more acceptable to a majority of legislators. The full Senate spent only an hour talking about the bill, and the 25-10 vote to approve the bill was not close. However, the bill’s opponents – who staged sometimes noisy demonstrations at the State Capitol – vowed they would continue to try to defeat the bill.

Sen. Pan said “As a pediatrician, I have personally witnessed children suffering life-long injury and death from vaccine-preventable infection. The personal belief exemption is now endangering the public and SB 277 will restore vaccination rates and protect all children in school.”...

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Unions File Their Appeal of Vergara Ruling

May 7, 2015

On May 1, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed opening briefs in their appeal of Judge Rolf Treu’s June 2014 decision in Vergara v. California, which they termed “a baseless lawsuit brought by corporate privatizers seeking to strike down statutes protecting teachers from arbitrary firings, providing transparency in layoff decisions, and supporting due process rights, all of which contribute to student success.” The State of California also filed a separate appeal.

“This suit was never about helping students,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “As educators we believe every student has the right to a caring, qualified and committed teacher and that is why we are appealing the judge’s misguided decision. He completely ignored all evidence demonstrating the laws challenged in this case help ensure students have quality and caring teachers in their classrooms, and did not consider the impact of a severe lack of funding and growth in poverty which are some of the most important factors impacting student achievement...

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California Vaccine Legislation Advances in Senate Judiciary Committee

May 7, 2015

As reported on April 29 report in the San Jose Mercury by reporter Tracy Seipel:

Agreeing to a slight modification, a state legislative panel (on April 28) easily advanced controversial legislation that would no longer allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

In a 5-1 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed that Senate Bill 277 abides by California and federal law that protects the public's health and safety over individual rights.

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, was the only no vote. Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who is the committee vice chair, was not present.

The proposed legislation would eliminate personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccines, and unvaccinated children could not attend public or private school in California. They would have to be home-schooled...

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Committee Votes Unanimously to Send Bipartisan Compromise on Overhauling NCLB to Full Senate

April 23, 2015

On April 16, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) – praised the work of the committee in acting on the bipartisan agreement to fix No Child Left Behind. After three days of amendment and debate, the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Senate.

Alexander said: “If senators were students in a classroom, none of us would expect to receive a passing grade for unfinished work. Seven years is long enough to consider how to fix No Child Left Behind. The committee considered 57 amendments, approved 29, and improved the bipartisan agreement Ranking Member Murray and I reached – but the consensus that the committee found is the same that Senator Murray and I found. That consensus is this: Continue the law’s important measurements of academic progress of students but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement...

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Vaccination Bill Clears Senate Education Committee, But Still Faces Stiff Opposition

April 23, 2015

A bill co-authored by California State Senator and pediatrician Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), which would require more California children to be vaccinated before they can attend public schools, cleared the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday morning by a 7-2 vote.

But the bill’s opponents – a coalition that includes vaccine skeptics, a number of religious groups, and small-government advocates who dislike the idea of state government issuing mandates on medical matters – indicated that they will continue to fight the bill.

The proposed legislation (SB 277) was introduced in the wake of California’s February measles outbreak by Sen. Pan and Sen Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)...

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Bill to Protect Students from “Math Misplacement” Clears First Hurdle

April 23, 2015

A measure to protect students from being relegated to less challenging mathematics classes – even though they meet the academic requirements for those courses – survived the scrutiny of its first legislative committee on April 15 and has moved closer to becoming state law.

SB 359 authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) passed out of the State Senate’s Education Committee unanimously, garnering bipartisan support. The bill requires public school districts to develop and adhere to performance and assessment-based standards for assigning youths to math courses, a first step in remedying the growing problem of “math misplacement,” which can impede a capable student’s progress both in learning math and advancing toward higher education and career goals...

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Alexander, Murray Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Fixing “No Child Left Behind”

April 9, 2015

Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a bipartisan agreement on fixing “No Child Left Behind” on Tuesday (April 7). They scheduled committee action on their agreement and any amendments to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 14.

Alexander said: “Senator Murray and I have worked together to produce bipartisan legislation to fix ‘No Child Left Behind.’ Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement. This should produce fewer and more appropriate tests. It is the most effective way to advance higher standards and better teaching in our 100,000 public schools. We have found remarkable consensus about the urgent need to fix this broken law, and also on how to fix it. We look forward to a thorough discussion and debate in the Senate education committee next week.”...

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ACSA Tracking Progress of Newly Introduced Education-Related Bills in Sacramento

April 9, 2015

The time period for introducing bills to the Legislature is over, and the real work begins for the Legislative Policy Committee and the Governmental Relations team (GR) at the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Hundreds of bills that impact K-12 education are being sifted through by the committee, which determines the positions GR will work on in the halls of the Capitol.

One bill certain to get ACSA’s attention is Assembly Bill 215, Alejo, D-Watsonville. This bill would place greater restrictions on the amount school districts can pay to buy out a superintendent’s contract. The state already caps the severance deals at 18 months max of the superintendent’s salary, but AB 215 wants to reduce the cap to 12 months.

There are two bills ACSA will strongly be supporting – one in the Senate, one in the Assembly. Both bills have the same purpose: to repeal the onerous budget reserve cap pushed through in the Governor’s Rainy Day ballot measure approved last November...

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California State PTA Announces Support for Immunization Bill

March 26, 2015

California State PTA, the state’s largest children’s advocacy organization, has taken a support position on Senate Bill 277 (Pan).

Currently, children entering the school system or child care are required to be immunized against various communicable diseases unless they medically cannot receive immunizations, or unless immunization is contrary to personal beliefs. SB 277 would eliminate the personal belief exemption and have all medically eligible children be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases thus protecting vulnerable children.

California State PTA President Colleen A. R. You issued the following statement:

“PTA, both nationally and in California, has been a strong supporter of vaccinations for many decades.”...

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NSBA Supports Legislation Offering More Flexibility for Local School Meal Programs

March 26, 2015

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, to provide school districts with greater flexibility to ensure students receive healthy, nutritious school meals.

Sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), and introduced on March 19, the legislation offers school districts relief from mandates imposed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and subsequent federal regulations.

“Our public schools are committed to providing healthy, nutritious meals for all students, but overly prescriptive and unnecessary federal mandates are proving challenging for school boards to meet and are raising meal costs that can then divert resources from the instructional program,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel...

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Assemblymember Hernández Joins Legislators to Propose Changes to Charter School Law

March 26, 2015

On March 25, Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) joined Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), and Assemblymember Mike Gibson (D-Carson), along with educators and supporters representing the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Labor Federation, and educators from California charter schools at a news conference to unveil legislation aimed at increasing school accountability, transparency and ensure unbiased access to all students.

Last month, Hernández introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 787 that will protect California’s public school employees by ensuring their right to unionize and ensuring that California taxpayer dollars stay in the classroom...

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Assembly Republicans Propose Package of Education Bills, Ranging from School Finance to Teacher Layoffs

March 12, 2015

Assembly Republicans introduced a package of legislation on March 4, collectively dubbed the “#GreatSchools4CA” bill package.

“My children are blessed to be able to learn in good schools from great teachers.  Every child should have the same opportunity, said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto. “Our current education system is failing millions of California kids, and for the state to do nothing about it is unacceptable. Every child deserves access to a top quality education. Our legislation will create great classrooms for students to learn in and great schools for teachers to work in.”

Among the bills being proposed are Assembly Bill 889 (Chang), which will let high school students in STEM classes (science, technology, engineering and math) to concurrently take STEM classes at community colleges.  This will help better prepare students for the workforce...

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Assembly Bill would Create New UC Campus for Science and Technology, along Lines of Caltech

March 12, 2015

Contending that the University of California system is overcrowded, with slots increasingly scarce for California’s growing population, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has introduced legislation that will start the process for a new, public University of California campus intended to promote the so-called STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). “It can be thought of as a public version of Caltech,” Gatto’s office said in a press release.

Gatto’s legislation (AB 1483, introduced on March 2) would start the process with the required study on the feasibility and potential locations for the campus. But it also appropriates $50 million for land acquisition and initial building costs for the future “UC-Tech” campus, once the UC Regents have determined the ideal location. According to Gatto’s press release, “This new campus would provide an elite technical education comparable to Caltech...

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Legislation Aims to Improve Student Achievement, Health through Improvements to School Breakfast

March 12, 2015

Two Assembly Democrats have introduced a bill that aims to boost academic performance, revitalize California’s limited school breakfast program and more effectively manage existing funding. AB 1240, introduced by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), seeks to improve access to the school breakfast program and ensure more students start their school day well-nourished and ready to learn.

“Even students with the best teachers and curriculum will struggle to learn if they come to school hungry,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta. “Research has consistently shown that hungry kids can’t focus at school, making it difficult for them to be productive and engaged students. By giving students the basic opportunity to nourish themselves and thrive in a positive educational environment, AB 1240 offers a simple solution to help address California’s achievement gap.”...

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Proposed Bill Would Suspend CAHSEE for Three Years

February 26, 2015

Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada/Flintridge) has introduced legislation in Sacramento (SB 172) that would suspend administration of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) for three years, and specify that passing the CAHSEE is not required for graduation during the same three-year period (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19).

Liu notes that the CAHSEE was made a requirement for high school graduation beginning with the Class of 2006. However, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core academic standards in 2010, and the CAHSEE has not been updated for alignment to the Common Core standards “and is therefore outdated as the exam is aligned to standards that are no longer in place,” according to a staff report from Sen. Liu’s office...

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Opinion

It’s Past Time to Move beyond No Child Left Behind

By Arne Duncan - Rep: February 26, 2015

 

(Editor’s note: On February 12, the Obama Administration’s Education Secretary posted the following article on the Department of Education’s blog, reflecting th administration’s thoughts on the current discussion in the nation’s capital regarding the renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.)

For more than a decade, states and schools throughout this country have worked within the narrow confines of the No Child Left Behind law. It’s long past time to move past that law, and replace it with one that expands opportunity, increases flexibility and gives schools and educators more of the resources they need.

Today, seven years after the law was due for renewal, there is real movement on Capitol Hill toward a new law, with many important decisions happening in just the next few weeks. But it is by no means certain what that law will look like – or whether it will, indeed, be a step forward...

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Sponsors Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Federal Special Education Funding

February 12, 2015

On January 27, Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Dave Reichert (R-WA) reintroduced the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act. In 1975, Congress took the critical step of passing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), providing a promise that every child with disabilities would have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. At that time, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at just 16.1 percent. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our commitment to America’s children and schools.

“We are proud to introduce the IDEA Full Funding Act to ensure that the federal government pays its fair share of the costs of educating students with disabilities. Forty years ago, the government committed to supporting our students and the teachers who work to help every American child reach their full potential,” they said...

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With New Measles Outbreak, Legislators to Introduce Bill to Repeal “Personal Belief” Exemption for Vaccines

February 12, 2015

Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing Sacramento and Senator Ben Allen, the former Board President of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced on February 4 that they will introduce legislation in Sacramento that will repeal California’s personal belief exemption that currently allows parents to effectively opt their child out of vaccines in our schools.

“As a pediatrician, I’ve been worried about the anti-vaccination trend for a long time,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a State Senator representing Sacramento. “I’ve personally witnessed the suffering caused by these preventable diseases and I am very grateful to the many parents that are now speaking up and letting us know that our current laws don’t protect their kids.”...

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How ESEA Title I, Part A, Funding Can Better Serve the Most Disadvantaged Students

By Robert Hanna, Center for American Progress – Rep: January 29, 2015

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently released his recommendations for a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, and the Senate has begun discussions on his proposals. Congress first passed ESEA in 1965, and it has gone through several reauthorizations since then. The latest is known as No Child Left Behind, which provides additional resources to states and districts to improve their education systems and holds schools accountable for their academic progress.

One section of ESEA – Title I, Part A – is the single largest K-12 investment that the federal government makes. It is the most powerful lever available for driving improvements in educational outcomes for poor children. Currently, Title I includes four different formula grants that determine how much districts receive from the federal government...

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Groups Call on Brown to Appoint an “English Learners Advocate” to State Board of Education

January 29, 2015

A coalition of groups that have advocated for greater attention (and funding) for the education of students who are English Learners is calling on Gov. Brown to “appoint an English Learners advocate to the State Board of Education (SBE).”

In an op-ed piece published by the Sacramento Bee on January 22 (under the headline “California’s public schools are failing English learners”) Ryan J. Smith wrote:

Although the governor has made the right first step in adopting the Local Control Funding Formula, which provides more resources to districts with higher concentrations of English learners, more must be done. Money alone won’t move the achievement needle for this community...

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With Republicans in Control of Congress, Sen. Alexander Advances ESEA Renewal Proposal

January 29, 2015

With Republicans now in the majority in both houses of Congress, a new effort is being launched to address the long-stalled discussion of reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has been stalemated for years due to frosty relations between President Barack Obama and legislators.

The initiative is coming from Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who became the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in January (due to the new GOP majority in the Senate). Alexander previously served as the federal Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 under President. George H.W. Bush...

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Federal Agencies Release Guidance to Ensure English Learners Have Equal Access to Education

January 12, 2015

The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) released joint guidance on January 7 reminding states, school districts and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.

"Four decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Lau v. Nichols that all students deserve equal access to a high-quality education regardless of their language background or how well they know English," said ED Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. "Today's guidance not only reminds us of the court's ruling, but also provides useful information for schools as they work to ensure equity for students and families with limited English proficiency."...

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ACSA Calls on State Board of Education to Defer Next API Ranking until 2015-16

January 12, 2015

With the transition to new technology-based assessments this school year, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is continuing to advocate that the State Board of Education (SBE) use its statutory authority to defer the Academic Performance Index (API) until 2015-16.

Current law authorizes the SBE and Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to suspend the API if the “transition to a new standards-based assessment compromises comparability of results across schools or school districts.” Although the SPI recommended, and the SBE approved, not calculating API in 2013-14, the issue has not yet been resolved for the current 2014-15 academic year...

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CSBA Report Finds New Budget Reserve Cap Will Harm Financial Stability of Schools

December 11, 2014

On December 1, the California School Boards Association (CSBA) released its Report on School District Reserves, presenting data and analysis of the potential negative impacts on California school districts resulting from SB 858, Section 27, that became operational when Proposition 2, the state Rainy Day Fund, was recently passed.

CSBA’s Report on School District Reserves reviewed information from the California Department of Education for the 2012-13 fiscal year and found that all of California school districts’ “assigned and unassigned ending balances” included 28 separate funds totaling nearly $17 billion. These balances include funds for building fund reserves, bond interest redemption funds, self-insurance, and retiree benefits...

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New Law Allows Sale, Consumption of Alcohol at Special Events on K-12 District-Owned Facilities

November 13, 2014

Assembly Bill 2073 (“AB 2073”), which becomes law on January 1, 2015, creates an exception to the prohibition against the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the grounds of K-12 district facilities if the beverages are acquired, possessed, used, sold, or consumed under a license or permit obtained for special events held at a time when students are not on the grounds.

Existing law generally prohibits the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on public school district property, although a number of exceptions to this prohibition already exist, including exceptions that allow alcohol during certain special events held at the facilities of public community colleges. According to the author of AB 2073, those exceptions were intended to generate additional revenue for community colleges, which could lease their facilities for a range of corporate, civic and cultural uses and include alcoholic beverage service...

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CSBA Hails Passage of Proposition 2, Renews Call for Repeal of School District Budget Reserve Cap

November 13, 2014

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) responded to voter approval of Proposition 2 (establishing a state “Rainy Day” budget reserve) by releasing a statement calling for repeal of the school district budget reserve cap:

“Now that the Rainy Day Fund has been enacted (by voters), we are asking the legislature to act immediately and repeal the reserve cap statutory trailer bill language restricting school district reserves (approved by the California Legislature in June),” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “The arbitrary implementation of reserve limits puts school districts at risk of financial insolvency just as the State of California is moving to insulate itself from uncertain future economic circumstances. CSBA continues to aggressively advocate for the repeal of thi egregious statute.”...

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Stanford Report Recommends Changes in Testing, Evaluation of Student Progress

October 30, 2014

A new report released on October 16 by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the National Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky recommends that as school districts implement the Common Core academic standards, they should also reevaluate the way the test students and measure student progress.

The report argues that along with the new standards, a more comprehensive and balanced system of accountability is necessary. Such a system should rest on three pillars – a focus on meaningful learning, adequate resources, and professional capacity – and should be driven by processes for continuous evaluation and improvement...

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Gov. Brown Signs Many Education Bills, Vetoes Others

October 2, 2014

As Governor Brown signed – and vetoed – hundreds of bills this week, the California School Boards Association compiled the following list of education-related bills that were signed by the Governor.

AB 420 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) eliminates “willful defiance” as grounds to suspend students in K-3 or recommend expulsion for students in K-12. This bill intends to encourage districts to use alternative disciplinary methods. This position bill was supported by CSBA.

AB 948 (Olsen, R-Modesto) Expands eligibility for charter school students to participate in the free and reduced-price meal program. This bill also expands eligibility and requires charter schools participating in the Charter School Facility Grant Program (CSFGP) to comply with the audit guide. CSBA took a neutral position on this bill...

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Governor Signs Three Bills Establishing New Safeguards for Student Data Online

October 2, 2014

On September 29, 2014, Governor Brown signed three bills aimed at enhancing protection of student data online. While there is existing federal law that safeguards student data, these three bills include specific requirements for California school districts and website operators to protect student information.

AB 1584 (Assemblymember Joan Buchanan – (D) Alamo) specifies what local educational agencies must include in contracts with third-party digital record and educational software providers. This bill is effective January 1, 2015. Therefore, all contracts entered into or effective on or after January 1, 2015 should include the terms enumerated below:

  1. Establish that the local educational agency owns and controls student records.
  2. Describe how students can keep control of content created for school, along with a way to transfer content to a personal account later...

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California Leaders, New Report from Attorney General Call for Better Tracking of Chronic Absence

September 18, 2014

California state leaders – including lawmakers and education, human services, law enforcement and judicial chiefs – gathered in Sacramento on Sept. 11 to recognize Attendance Awareness Month and launch an interagency effort to combat chronic absence. A report released earlier this month by California Attorney General Kamala Harris underscored the extent of the problem in the nation’s largest state.

In Sacramento, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana S. Dooley, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, Superior Court Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie and Special Assistant Attorney General Jill E. Habig each committed to address chronic absenteeism in their own arena...

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LCFF/LCAP Regs Dominate September SBE Meeting

From the Association of California School Administrators - September 2014

The State Board of Education (SBE) took action on regulations governing the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans during its meeting Sept. 3-4.

As supported by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the SBE readopted emergency regulations that were slated to expire Oct. 28. The emergency regulations were initially adopted in January to meet the statutorily established deadline while permanent regulations are finalized.

The board also approved changes to permanent regulations, which then went out for a second 15-day public comment period. Proposed changes to the permanent regulations were also adopted in July, at which time they went out for comment. SBE and California Department of Education staff reviewed those comments, and made subsequent changes...

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Governor Signs Bill Streamlining Process of Teacher Discipline and Dismissal

September 4, 2014

Assembly Republican Leader-Elect Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Senator Jean Fuller, (R-Bakersfield) introduced AB 146 on August 18 – a bill that would restore the ability of school districts to save money in reserve accounts.

The bill faces an uncertain future in a legislature dominated by Democrats, who by-and-large voted in favor of a bill that restricted the ability of school districts to save money in reserve accounts earlier this summer. That move came in the form of a last-minute amendment to the education trailer bill of the recently enacted 2014-2015 State Budget, capping the amount of reserves that school districts could hold.

“Budget reserves are vital to the financial well-being of school districts and it is completely unacceptable that they were capped in this year’s budget at the last minute,” said Assemblymember Olsen...

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Progress Report on 2012 Bill’s Implementation

LAO Report on Community Colleges Finds “Notable Progress” in Some Areas under Student Success Act

July 21, 2014

(Editor’s note: The California Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report on July 1 titled “California Community Colleges: A Progress Report on the Student Success Act of 2012.” The report’s executive summary is reprinted below; click on the link at the end to read the entire report.)

Executive Summary

Legislature Requires Community College Improvement Plan. The California Community Colleges (CCC) serve more than 2 million students annually at 112 colleges operated by 72 districts throughout the state. For years, the Legislature has expressed concern about the low completion rates of CCC students. In an effort to promote better results, the Legislature passed legislation in 2010 requiring the Board of Governors (BOG) – the CC’s state–level governing body – to adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for improving student success…

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Governor Signs Bill Streamlining Process of Teacher Discipline and Dismissal

July 7, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on June 24 – AB 215 (Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo) – that updates and streamlines California’s teacher discipline and dismissal process, saving the state time and money while protecting students and ensuring an educator's rights to due process.

AB 215 clarifies current law and creates a separate hearing process for education employees charged with egregious misconduct, including child abuse, sexual abuse and certain drug offenses. School districts are required to start these egregious misconduct cases within 60 days of a complaint being filed. The case will be heard only by an administrative law judge and that decision will be binding…

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Legislation to Streamline Teacher Dismissal Process Headed to Governor’s Desk

June 19, 2014

Legislation to streamline the teacher dismissal process, AB 215 by Assembly Member Joan Buchanan and principal co-authors Senators Lou Correa and Alex Padilla, passed unanimously out of the Senate on June 9 and passed unanimously out of the Assembly on June 12, and is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. AB 215 prioritizes, updates and streamlines the teacher discipline and dismissal process – saving time and money, while protecting students and ensuring an educator's rights to due process.

The bill creates a separate hearing process for education employees charged with egregious misconduct, including child abuse, sexual abuse and certain drug offenses…

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Judge Issues Tentative Ruling in Favor of Vergara Lawsuit, CTA and Other Groups Planning Appeal

June 11, 2014

In a much anticipated decision, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu came down decisively in favor of the plaintiffs in the closely-watched Vergara v. California lawsuit, with the judge issuing a tentative ruling striking down several state laws relating to teacher tenure, teacher dismissal, and teacher layoffs. (Judge Treu also stayed his ruling, and left these laws temporarily in place, recognizing that there would be an appeal).

Judge Treu’s tentative ruling, issued Tuesday (June 10), found that “Plaintiffs have met their burden of proof on all issues presented” and sided with the plaintiffs on every point, saying that “Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students…

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Lawsuit Accuses California of Allowing Students at Under-Resourced Schools to Lose Learning Time

June 11, 2014

Students attending seven of California’s most disadvantaged schools lose days, weeks and months of critical classroom instruction through the course of their academic careers, according to a lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court on May 29. Cruz et al. v. State of California accuses the state of California of failing to address the factors that reduce actual learning time and slowly rob students of an equal education, despite knowing of their existence and impact on students.

The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), Public Counsel and Gary Blasi, Professor Emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, filed the lawsuit with the pro bono support of the law firms Carlton Fields Jorden Burt and Arnold & Porter LLP...

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Bill to Require Safer Use of Pesticides in Schools Passes California Senate, Heads for Assembly

May 29, 2014

A bill by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to provide more stringent guidelines on the use of harmful, toxic pesticides in schools passed off the California Senate floor on May 27, and will now go to the California Assembly for consideration.

“We need to safeguard students from harmful pesticides at schools,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “SB 1405 will promote the usage of preventative measures at school sites that can lessen the need for toxic pesticides. Families deserve the peace of mind that schools are a safe place for their students.”...

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Governor Brown, Legislative Leaders Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Rainy Day Fund

May 15, 2014

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway announced a bipartisan agreement on May 8 to replace the Rainy Day Fund on the November ballot with a dedicated reserve that allows the state to save for the future, while paying down its debts and unfunded liabilities.

"There's nothing complicated about the idea of saving money and exercising fiscal restraint, but it's not always easy to do," said Governor Brown. "Democrats and Republicans have come together to create a Rainy Day Fund that ensures we're not only saving for the next downturn, but also paying off our debt."...

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Bill Giving Districts Greater Flexibility in Parcel Tax Rates Approved by State Senate, Advances to Assembly

May 15, 2014

Legislation to help K-12 school districts throughout California flexibility in setting parcel tax rates earned passage from the state Senate on May 5.

Senate Bill 1021 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), would restore K-12 school districts’ ability to levy parcel taxes at rates based on a land’s classification, an ability eliminated by a 2013 state court decision. Parcel taxes have been used for more than 25 years to fund K-12 school districts, including Davis, and since 1988 to fund community colleges and 15 other agencies...

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ACSA Opposes Steinberg’s Legislation to Open Transitional Kindergarten to All 4-Year-Olds

May 15, 2014

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) has taken an “oppose unless amended” position on Senate Bill 837 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento), which proposes universal Transitional Kindergarten for all 4-year-olds.

In an announcement on May 5, ACSA supported the overarching concept of the bill, but expressed serious concerns about the timing of such a large-scale program when a brand new funding system and set of standards is being simultaneously implemented in schools...

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Bill Allowing Community Colleges to Offer Some Four-Year Degrees Clears Senate Committee

May 1, 2014

A bill aimed at closing California’s job skills gap by allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees, where a local workforce need can be documented, was approved on April 24 by the Senate Education Committee on an 8-0 bipartisan vote.

Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego, Dist. 39), who authored the legislation – SB 850 – described his measure as a jobs bill. “California has a workforce skills gap,” Block said. “By 2025 our state will need one million more adults with four-year degrees. We need to use all of California’s resources – including our community colleges – to close that gap.” He added that more than 20 states since 1970 already allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees...

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Education Bills Clear Legislative Committees

April 17, 2014

Several bills of interest to educators are moving through legislative committees in Sacramento. Among the bills on the move:

--SB 837, the Kindergarten Readiness Act (Steinberg, D-Sacramento). This bill would allow all four-year-olds to enroll in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs, the change would be phased in over five years. Proponents say that this would allow existing federal and state preschool funds to be focused on programs for low-income three-year-olds and those four-year-olds not in TK. Proponents maintain that the resulting boost in academic performance would translate into lower crime rates and higher lifetime earnings when these kindergarten students become adults...

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CTA, EdVoice Announce Support for Teacher Dismissal Process – but CSBA, ACSA Apparently Aren’t Onboard

April 17, 2014

For several years, the California Legislature has worked on bills that would modify and in some ways streamline the teacher dismissal process. And while none of the legislative attempts thus far have become law, many Sacramento observers that some sort of change in existing law is politically inevitable.

The latest episode in this saga began on April 4, when the California Teachers Association and the advocacy group EdVoice issued a joint statement, which appeared to tout an apparent breakthrough...

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Closing Arguments Heard in Vergara Lawsuit

April 3, 2014

Closing arguments were heard on March 27 at the Vergara vs. California trial in Los Angeles, with the opposing sides painting two vastly different pictures of whether students are harmed by the job protections enjoyed by public school teachers. The case is being heard in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu.

The group Students Matter, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, has supported the Vergara lawsuit by hiring a high profile legal team, and issued the following account of the final arguments...

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Ravitch Calls for Hearings on Standardized Testing

March 21, 2014

Prominent education advocate Diane Ravitch – speaking on March 2 at a conference in Austin, Texas organized by the Network for Public Education – called for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s K-12 public schools.

In a Closing Keynote address to some 500 attendees, education historian and NYU professor Diane Ravitch (a founder and Board President of the Network for Public Education, or NPE), accused current education policies mandated by the federal government, such as President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top, of making high-stakes standardized testing “the purpose of education, rather than a measure of education.”...

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“Truancy Crisis” Addressed in Legislation Package

March 21, 2014

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a package of legislation on March 10 aimed at helping education leaders address truancy within their schools.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, an estimated 1 million elementary school students are truant and 250,000 elementary school students miss more than 10 percent of the school year, at a cost of $1.4 billion in lost funds to California school districts.

Joined by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, state Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra, Rob Bonta, Joan Buchanan, Isadore Hall and Chris Holden, Attorney General Harris announced her sponsorship of five bills that aim to help schools...

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Proposed Initiatives Addressing Dismissal, Layoffs and Ratings of Teachers Cleared to Circulate Petitions

March 6, 2014

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced on February 18 the proponent of two new initiatives may begin collecting petition signatures for his measures.

The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponent and to the Secretary of State, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Secretary of State then provides calendar deadlines to the proponent and to county elections officials...

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Bipartisan Bill Would Encourage Computer Science in Schools

March 6, 2014

Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) have introduced a bill that would encourage districts to expand computer science courses in high schools.

Computer Science drives innovation and economic growth in California and across the country.  By the end of the decade, over half of all jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States will require highly technical computer knowledge and experience...

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Competing Republican Bill Expected Next Week

Democrats Launch New Effort in Washington to Revisit, Revise No Child Left Behind

June 6, 2013

Another legislative effort is underway in the nation’s capital to push through a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESAA), revising and/or replacing aspects of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a 1,150 page bill, known as the "Strengthening America's Schools Act of 2013;” the bill has several co-sponsors (all Democrats). Harkin, who has served in the Senate since 1985 is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; he is also preparing to retire when his term ends in 2015...

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Assembly Committee Advances Bill to Create New Statewide Assessments Using Computer-Based Exams

May 9, 2013

Legislation sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to create a new statewide assessment system using computer-based exams that would measure and promote student progress toward career and college readiness was approved May 1 by the Assembly Education Committee.

The Committee approved Assembly Bill 484 (Bonilla), which would limit the use of outdated Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system tests for the 2013-14 school year and begin statewide use of new assessments aligned to California’s Common Core State Standards in 2014-15...

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Groups Applaud Bills to Help Recruit, Mentor New Principals, Call for Speedy Reauthorization of ESEA

May 9, 2013

On April 26, The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) applauded the reintroduction of a bill to improve federal programs for the nation’s principals and assistant principals. S. 840 and H.R.1736, The School Principal Recruitment and Training Act of 2013, was introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), to amend Title II, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to recruit, prepare, and support principals through capacity-building measures that will improve student academic achievement in high-need schools...

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Bill Would Curb “Willful Defiance” as Reason for Suspension

School Discipline Reform Legislation Approved by Assembly Education Committee

April 25, 2013

Assembly Bill 420 authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) was approved on April 17 by a unanimous bipartisan vote by the Assembly Education Committee. The bill would take a large step towards fixing California’s broken school discipline practices. In California alone, there are more than 700,000 student suspensions per year. AB 420 would curb the excessive use of willful defiance as a reason to suspend and expel students.

“Kids who have been suspended or expelled are five times more likely to drop out and 11 times more likely to turn to crime,” said Dickinson, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development...

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Proposal for School Panic Alarms Clears Assembly Education Committee

April 11, 2013

Assemblymember Kristin Olsen’s (R-Modesto) Assembly Bill 1076 – which would equip schools with “panic buttons” linked to local law enforcement – passed through the Assembly Education Committee on April 3.

“I am pleased that the Education Committee recognized the value panic alarms can provide to enhance school safety,” said Olsen. “This is low hanging fruit in providing solutions that improve school safety for students, teachers, staff and administrators.”...

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CTA Supporting Proposed Legislation

Bills Introduced to Streamline Teacher Dismissal, Mandate Reporting of Child Abuse

March 28, 2013

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), chair of the Assembly Education Committee announced on March 19 the introduction of two pieces of legislation designed to protect and ensure the safety of our children: AB 375 (Teacher Discipline and Dismissal) and AB 1338 (Mandated Reporting of Child and Sexual Abuse).

AB 375 streamlines the appeal process for teacher dismissal, resulting in faster resolution and significant cost savings to school districts.  In cases of child and sexual abuse, AB 375 maintains the ability of school districts to immediately remove the teacher from the classroom as well as the ability to issue a notice of dismissal at any time during the calendar year...

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Bill Aims to Limit “Unnecessary Federal Intrusion”

NSBA Urges Congress to Support the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act

March 28, 2013

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised the introduction (on March 21) of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Local school boards and local educators play a vital role in educating our nation’s schoolchildren which should not be eroded by unnecessary federal regulations,” said C. Ed Massey, NSBA President and member of Kentucky’s Boone County Board of Education...

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Republican Senate Leader Proposes Moving Layoff Notification Deadline from March 15 to June 1

March 14, 2013

In a move clearly timed to coincide with the March 15 deadline for issuing layoff notices to certificated employees, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) asked on Monday that his fellow lawmakers join him in co-authoring a measure (SB 559) designed to “end the annual school March madness when unnecessary layoff ‘pink slip’ notices go out to tens of thousands of teachers,” according to Huff’s office. The Senator noted than many of the notices ultimately do not lead to actual layoffs.

SB 559, introduced in late February, would move preliminary layoff notices from March 15 to June 1, which is closer to the state budget deadline of June 30...

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CTA Also Backs Feinstein’s Federal Gun Safety Bill

Make California’s Public Schools Safer for All – But Don't Arm Educators, CTA Says

February 14, 2013

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is opposing any efforts to arm educators across the state, and is supporting Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislation to ban military-style assault weapons.

The positions were announced in late January at CTA’s quarterly meeting in Los Angeles. Delegates approved new policy opposing “the arming of non-law enforcement educational professionals or volunteers on school campuses or at school-related functions.”

In late January, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Hesperia, San Bernardino County) introduced legislation (AB 202) that would create a “school marshal plan.”...

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Legislation Proposed, Co-Sponsors Sought

National School Board Leaders Advocate for Less Intrusive Role of the U.S. Department of Education

February 14, 2013

More than 700 school board members and state school boards association leaders will be meeting with their members of Congress and urging them to co-sponsor legislation, developed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), to protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

The proposed legislation would ensure that the Department of Education’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are educationally, operationally, and financially supportable at the local level...

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Some $1 Billion or More May Be Owed to Schools

School Agencies Victorious in 20-Year Battle for Special Ed Reimbursements

January 31, 2013

The California School Boards Association's Educational Legal Alliance (ELA) has announced that the Commission on State Mandates voted unanimously to adopt a formula, developed by the ELA, to reimburse local educational agencies (school districts, county offices of education and special education local plan areas) for the costs associated with developing and implementing Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIP) for designated special education students. ELA members, San Joaquin and Butte county offices of education, and the San Diego Unified School District were the claimants in the proceedings before the Commission. Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP, represented ELA and the claimants. This issue of reimbursement for BIP services has been contested since 1993-94...

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ACLU Warns Torlakson, SBE of Possible Lawsuit OverServices to English Learners

January 31, 2013

The ACLU of California, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP warned state education officials on January 23 of possible litigation if they do not act immediately to provide essential language instruction to thousands of underserved English learner (EL) students, as required by state and federal law. The organizations have sent a demand letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and members of the State Board of Education urging them to fulfill their statutory and constitutional duties by taking specific steps detailed in a report the organizations also released today...

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RAND Offers Suggestions on Law’s Anniversary

Five Ways to Improve “No Child Left Behind”

January 10, 2013

(Editor’s note: On Tuesday – the 11th anniversary of the signing of “No Child Left Behind” legislation – the RAND Corporation posted the following list of “Five Ways to Improve ‘No Child Left Behind” on a company blog.)

Eleven years have passed since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002—popularly known as NCLB—was signed into law. NCLB mandates increased accountability for school performance, gives states and communities freedom in the use of Title I funding, targets federal funds to proven education programs and methods, and provides options to parents when schools do not meet standards.

While NCLB has produced some positive effects, the bill has not produced enough improvement to reach its goal of all students meeting proficiency standards by 2014...

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No Surprise: State Quietly Confirms That Feds Have Rejected California’s Proposed NCLB Waiver Proposal

January 10, 2013

It’s old news by now – but since the quiet announcement on December 21 was issued at a time when it would attract as little attention as possible (coming on a Friday as school districts up and down California were starting their winter break), a brief, if belated, news item is in order, since some educators may have been on their way to a family gathering and missed the announcement:

On Friday, Dec. 21, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst sent a two-page letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators...

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Bill Would Lower Threshold for Parcel Taxes to 55 Percent

Drive Launched to Amend California Constitution to Help Cash-Strapped K-12 School Districts

December 13, 2012

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) announced last week that it has co-sponsored Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 (SCA 3) to lower the vote requirement on parcel taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent. The bill is authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). The principal co-authors include Sens. Jerry Hill (D-South San Francisco) and Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). CSBA Executive Director Vernon M. Billy noted that the measure is substantially similar to one introduced by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) in the last legislative session. If approved by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly and Senate and by voters on a statewide ballot, it would give local school boards the flexibility to pursue additional funding solutions to help restore educational programs and services...

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Many Bills Signed, A Few Vetoed

Governor Acts on Legislation Relating to Vaccinations, English Learners, Math, Principals, Charter Schools

October 4, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown spent most of the last two weeks dealing with over 1,000 bills that were sent to his desk during a blizzard of legislative activity in September. The Governor vetoed a number of bills, but signed the vast majority of new legislation that the California Assembly and California Senate had approved. Among the new laws that will impact K-12 education:

Student Vaccinations

Brown signed legislation (AB 2109) requiring parents who exempt a child from school vaccinations to have talked with a licensed health care practitioner...

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Teacher Evaluation Bill, Backed by Unions, Withdrawn as Legislative Session Ends

September 6, 2012

In last week’s blizzard of legislative activity, a bill that would have overhauled the way teacher evaluations are conducted (AB 5, introduced by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar) was withdrawn before coming up for a floor vote.

AB 5 had drawn support from teacher unions, and faced stiff opposition from some school districts and several prominent education reformers. It would have allowed school districts to disregard standardized test scores in evaluating teachers, added an "excellent" teacher evaluation option to the current pass/fail-type system, and made evaluations more frequent...

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But Will Governor Brown Sign – or Veto – the Bill?

Torlakson Calls for API Change as Senate Sends Steinberg's Bill to Governor's Desk

September 6, 2012

The California Senate last week approved a bill by President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg that would reformulate the way the state’s Academic Performance Index is calculated – but it remains to be seen whether Governor Brown will sign the legislation. Brown vetoed a similar bill last year when it reached his desk.

Steinberg’s bill, SB 1458, was approved by the Senate on a largely party line 23-13 vote. The bill was supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who said, “Californians know our students need more than a high test score to succeed in life...

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Bill Would Give Financially-Stressed School Districts the Option of Greater Local Control

August 23, 2012

Among the many education-related bills moving through the legislature this week was AB 2279, authored by Assemblymember Sandré R. Swanson (D-Alameda), Chair of the Select Committee on State School Financial Takeovers. The bill would return local accountability and control to struggling school districts by authorizing the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to remove a trustee under certain conditions and by giving county superintendents of schools more control over the financial decisions of a school district.

Under current law, financially struggling school districts are authorized to request an emergency loan from the state...

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Arguments Against Measure Are Taking A Toll

PACE/USC Poll Finds Proposition 30 Continues to Hold Slim Majority among Likely Voters

August 23, 2012

A slim majority of Californians favor enacting Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot initiative that would raise taxes in order to avoid further spending reductions in education and public safety, according to results from a new PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll released Wednesday. But the arguments against the initiative carry much greater weight with voters, imperiling the initiative's chances of passage when Californians cast their ballots less than three months from now.

The PACE/USC Rossier Poll found about 55 percent of Californians are in support of Proposition 30, and 36 percent oppose it...

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Legislature Approves Bill Creating Educational Opportunities for Transitional Kindergarten Teachers

August 23, 2012

California’s transitional kindergarten (TK) students are poised to receive a high-quality education after the state Legislature voted on Wednesday to pass Assembly Bill 1853 (Bonilla, Simitian), which would begin the process of creating optional formal educational and professional development opportunities for TK teachers.

With the historic implementation of the new transitional kindergarten grade this fall, the TK implementation bill’s passage reflects the Legislature’s commitment to supporting teachers in providing a high-quality TK experience for students...

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Assembly Sends Concussion Training Bill to Governor Brown

August 9, 2012

On Monday, the California Assembly unanimously approved proposed legislation that would require high school coaches to receive training in concussions. The bill, which has now cleared its final legislative hurdle, now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure would require high school coaches to receive training every two years to help them recognize the signs of concussions in student athletes, and respond appropriately. The training could be acquired through free online instruction...

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Largest State Near Bottom of the List in Three Categories

California Ranks 41st in Nation on Children's Issues

August 9, 2012

California ranks 41st out of 50 states in children's overall well-being, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released recently in partnership with Children Now.

The revamped Data Book ranks each state on 16 key indicators across four broad categories of Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.

With the exception of Health, where California ranks 23rd, the state ranks at the bottom of all other categories of children's well-being...

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Legislature Moves Toward Passage of a Budget Bill on Friday – But How Will Governor Brown Respond?

By Jeff Hudson - June 14, 2012

Fasten your seat belts.

With the June 5 primary election safely concluded – and the risk of any possible immediate negative reaction by voters now abated for the time being – Democratic legislators in Sacramento are moving swiftly to approve a state budget by the mandated June 15 deadline.

However, there is no guarantee that Gov. Jerry Brown – also a Democrat – will approve the budget that the Democratic majority in the Legislature sends him. Remember that Brown vetoed the first version of the budget that was sent to him by legislative Democrats last year...

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Targets: Districts with 2,500+ students, 40 Percent Free/Reduced Lunch

New District-Level Race to the Top Competition Focuses $400 Million on Classroom Instruction

May 31, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education announced on May 22 the proposed criteria for the 2012 Race to the Top (RTT) program — a nearly $400 million competition that invites school districts (rather than entire states) to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career.

"We're announcing a new Race-to the Top competition for school districts that is aimed squarely at the classroom level and the all-important relationship among teachers and students," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan...

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CTA Pushing for Brown's Ballot Initiative, While Urging Legislators to Pass an On-time State Budget

May 31, 2012

Several hundred educators from California Teachers Association (CTA) chapters statewide worked the halls of the State Capitol last week, talking with their legislators about what years of budget cuts have done to their schools and communities and to ask for an on-time budget so Californians can move on toward a critical election in November.

“As educators, we know firsthand how budget cuts have hurt our students and their families,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association...

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ACSA to Support Governor's Revenue Initiative

May 31, 2012

David Gomez, president of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) has announced that the association will support Gov. Jerry Brown’s November ballot initiative to raise state revenue.

“Our schools and students cannot afford more cuts,” Gomez said. “We strongly believe that school communities must rally behind a revenue solution that helps prevent additional cuts and budget uncertainties.”...

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CSBA Endorses Both November Revenue Initiatives

May 31, 2012

In an unprecedented move, the California School Board Association’s Delegate Assembly – the association’s governing body – voted on May 20 to endorse both of the revenue initiatives that will appear on the November ballot to help fund public schools and other needed statewide services. The Delegate Assembly, CSBA’s primary policy-making body and the foundation of the organization’s governance structure, consists of nearly 300 locally-elected board members from 21 regions across the state...

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ACSA Sponsored Bills Moving Forward

May 10, 2012

Two bills in the state Legislature that are supported by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) – Assembly Bill 2001 and Senate Bill 1292 – have moved out of their respective house’s education committees on unanimous votes.

AB 2001, (Susan Bonilla, D-Martinez) brings institutions of higher education and K-12 together to begin to align California’s future generation state assessments with college and career ready entry and eligibility requirements. The STAR system will sunset in 2014, so now is the time to begin planning for what comes next. AB 2001 also creates a planning process...

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U.S. Department of Education Releases Blueprint to Transform Career and Technical Education

May 3, 2012

In late April, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the Obama Administration’s blueprint for transforming Career and Technical Education (CTE), by proposing a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Secretary Duncan said the Administration’s plan will ensure the education system provides high-quality job-training opportunities that reduce skill shortages, spur business growth, encourage new investment and hires, and spark innovation and economic growth.

These imperatives are vital to sustaining the nation’s recovery from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression...

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Bill Changing Teacher Misconduct Procedures Sails through Assembly Committee on Bipartisan Vote

April 19, 2012

Democrats on the Assembly Education Committee joined with Republicans on Wednesday on a bipartisan vote to advance teacher misconduct reform legislation proposed by Assembly Republicans in response to the recent tragedy at Miramonte Elementary School.  The reforms were first put forward by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, every parent in California was repulsed by the reports of abuse at Miramonte Elementary School,” said Assemblyman Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley), a joint author of Assembly Bill 2028...

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Field Poll Finds Voters Worried About Kids’ Unhealthy Eating Habits, Lack of Physical Activity

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field - April 19, 2012

According to a Field Poll released on April 4, almost half (48 percent) of California’s voters consider unhealthy eating habits or a lack of physical activity to be the greatest health risk facing California kids today, up from 35 percent who said this in 2003.

These two obesity-related threats are now more than twice the proportion citing illegal drug use (22 percent), the next most frequently mentioned childhood health risk...

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Survey Finds Support for Gov’s November Ballot Measure

USC Dornsife Online Survey Experiment Tests Accuracy of New Approach to Political Polling

April 19, 2012

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences announced last Thursday the results of its new experiment in online political polling, which many polling professionals expect may overtake and replace telephone polling as the industry standard.  The online survey also found a high level of public support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed November ballot measure that would generate new funding for education and public safety.

"We are extremely proud that the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times phone poll was the most accurate in California during the last election cycle"...

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Republicans Introduce Bills on Teacher Misconduct

April 4, 2012

Assembly Republicans have formally introduced the state legislation proposals they unveiled in mid-March to address allegations of teacher misconduct in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and also in the Modesto Unified School District.

Some of the bills were introduced by Southern California legislators in the wake of a scandal involving alleged teacher misconduct with students at Miramonte Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District...

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Assembly Subcommittee Rejects Governor's Proposal to Eliminate Transitional Kindergarten

March 22, 2012

In something of a setback for Gov. Jerry Brown, the California State Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance voted on March 13 to reject the governor’s budget proposal to cut state funding for transitional kindergarten, deferring or eliminating the new program.

“We applaud the Assembly’s leadership in taking early action to reject the governor’s short-sighted and misguided proposal,” said Catherine Atkin, president of Preschool California...

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New Bill Would Set Criteria for Principal Evaluations

March 22, 2012

A bill supported by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) was recently introduced in the Legislature. Senate Bill 1292 deals with the evaluation of principals.

The bill is authored by Sen. Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, and is co-authored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Martinez.

ACSA Legislative Advocate Laura Preston reported that the bill seeks to codify some of the work ACSA has already accomplished...

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Gov. Brown Touts His Ballot Proposition as Best Alternative to Fund Education, Downplays Competing Measures

March 8, 2012

After several weeks of refraining from commenting on competing propositions that appear headed for the November ballot, Gov. Jerry Brown came out swinging this week, telling the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that only his initiative would yield a comprehensive solution that would deliver an increase in funding for education.

There are currently three proposed initiatives that are gathering signatures in hopes of qualifying for the November election – an initiative proposed by Brown; an initiative proposed by the California Federation of Teachers (dubbed the “millionaire’s tax”); and an initiative proposed by civil rights lawyer and activist Molly Munger (backed by the California State PTA)...

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Obama Administration Grants NCLB Waivers to Ten States, California Still Pondering Alternative Waiver Request

March 1, 2012

With some fanfare, President Barack Obama announced on Feb. 9 that ten states that have agreed to implement Obama Administration-backed reforms involving standards and accountability will receive waivers allowing flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The ten states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

An NCLB waiver request from an eleventh state – New Mexico – was granted by the Obama Administration on Feb. 15...

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"Play-In" at Model Classroom at State Capitol to Kick Off Campaign Supporting Transitional Kindergarten

March 1, 2012

With school districts and parents preparing to register students for kindergarten in March, legislators, superintendents, parents, education and civic leaders and child advocacy organizations are stepping up efforts to persuade legislators and California Governor Jerry Brown to support the full implementation of transitional kindergarten this fall. 

Launching a “March Mobilization to Save Kindergarten”, the Save Kindergarten coalition is rallying groups across the state to sound a warning bell about the unprecedented number of students who could be denied access to public education this fall...

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Concern About "Circular Firing Squad"

Three Competing Ballot Propositions to Fund Education Moving Into Petition Phase

February 9, 2012

Governor Brown is apparently making little headway in his efforts to get backers of ballot propositions that would compete with the Governor’s proposed November ballot measure to consider abandoning their efforts and endorse the Governor’s plan.

The Governor did win one major endorsement this week. The CTA State Council of Education, comprised of nearly 800 democratically elected educators from across the state, endorsed the governor’s tax plan at their quarterly meeting in Los Angeles on February 8. Dean E.Vogel, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association, said...

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EdBrief Interview

Diane Ravitch Speaks Out: "NCLB Has Been a Disaster, and the Waivers Are a Poison Pill"

January 26, 2012

 

(Diane Ravitch, noted education historian and prominent critic of federal education policy, made time for a wide-ranging, 30-minute one-on-one interview with EdBrief editor Jeff Hudson on January 20, prior to her well-attended speech at the Sacramento Convention Center. Here are Ravitch’s thoughts and observations, in a question-and-answer format.)

Q: Give me an overview of the difficult situation that public education now finds itself in because of the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, and high stakes testing of students.

A: My view as an education historian is that NCLB has been a disaster. We’ve had ten years of it, we’ve seen our schools transformed into test-prep factories...

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Torlakson Spotlights New Youth Laws for 2012

January 12, 2012

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recommends that California educators consider some of the new education and child safety laws that went into effect on January 1, 2012.

“Our goal for the new year and every year is to make education accessible and effective for all children,” said Torlakson. “These new laws will help ensure children are safer, enter kindergarten at the appropriate age, learn what they need to know to succeed in life and careers, and fulfill the dream of a college education.”

Assembly Bill AB 130 (Cedillo) is the California Dream Act of 2011...

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Petition Drive Challenging Dream Act Fizzles

January 12, 2012

Opponents of the California Dream Act – signed into law late last year by Gov. Jerry Brown – announced last week that they were unable to obtain the needed 500,000 petition signatures to put a statewide ballot proposition before California voters, asking them to repeal the new law. The petition drive came up about 50,000 signatures short of the number required to qualify the ballot measure for an election. Many political observers now consider a second petition effort challenging the law unlikely.

The two-part California Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants access to both public and private financial aid at UC and Cal State campuses and at community colleges...

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Some Worry Competing Ballot Measures will Confuse Voters

Brown Wants November 2012 Proposition to Fund Education

December 15, 2011

On December 5, Governor Jerry Brown formally proposed his long-awaited ballot measure that he said would “generate nearly $7 billion in dedicated funding to protect education and public safety. I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high,” said Gov. Brown. The ballot measure is intended to go before voters in the November 2012 election. In an “Open Letter to the People of California,” the Governor added:

“My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education...

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Members of Education Coalition Mull Over Which Proposition to Support in November 2012 Election

By Jeff Hudson - December 15, 2011

Wednesday’s teleconference involving representatives of The Education Coalition – a broadly-based group that includes most of the major stakeholder groups concerned with K-12 schools in California – took an interesting turn when Peter Schrag (now a columnist for California Progress Report, formerly the editorial page editor and columnist with the Sacramento Bee) posed a question.

The teleconference had been set up to give the education stakeholders an opportunity to vent their frustration at the “trigger cuts” that had been announced on Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown...

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ACSA Advises Care with Administrators' Contracts as New Legislation Takes Effect on January 1

December 1, 2011

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is advising school districts to be aware of new legislation that will take effect on January 1, 2012 which could impact individual contracts for superintendents and other senior administrators.

The legislation is AB 1344, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), which was approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor earlier this year. When Feuer wrote the bill, he said it was a response to “Unethical compensation practices in the cities of Bell, Vernon, and elsewhere (that) have uncovered deficiencies in local governance laws that are being exploited by some public officials for their personal gain...

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School Districts Might Benefit from Changes

California Forward Proposes Ballot Initiative Aimed at Reforming Budget Process, Program Performance

November 17, 2011

In California, continued budget impasses have resulted in repeated hits to critical areas - such as education, job creation, and public safety. And as a result, opinion polls show California voters have very little confidence in their elected officials.

To address this situation, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group California Forward started circulating a petition in early November to put a ballot proposition before California voters. The California Forward Action Fund has introduced The Government Performance and Accountability Act (GPAA), a constitutional amendment that would change the culture of governance in California...

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SBE Sizes Up Considerable Costs, Potential Benefits of Seeking NCLB Waiver Offered by Obama Administration

By Jeff Hudson - November 10, 2011

The State Board of Education (SBE) spent several hours on Wednesday mulling over the prospect of California seeking a waiver from the federal Department of Education, which would modify several aspects of the way the No Child Left Behind law is supposed to work, if enforced.

The SBE took no formal action on the waiver – but the staff presentation and comments from SBE members and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson made it clear that there will be tradeoffs involved, no matter what decision the SBE ultimately makes...

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Republican Legislator Circulating Petitions Seeking to Overturn Recently-Signed California Dream Act

November 3, 2011

(Second in a series about legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in early October)

Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act on October 8 – and now Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Hesperia) is circulating petitions seeking to qualify a statewide ballot measure that would repeal the bill the Governor just signed.

The California Dream Act, AB 131, was authored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) and “allows top students who are on the path to citizenship to apply for college financial aid,” as the Governor’s press office put it...

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ACSA Urges Swift Reauthorization of ESEA, and Also Prepare State-Developed Flexibility Plan

November 3, 2011

In a letter dated October 27, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) urged the immediate reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) “with the greatest amount of flexibility to states,” and as an alternative plan, recommended that California submit a flexibility plan to federal authorities no later than the end of the current school year.

The letter was addressed to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the State Board of Education...

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Governor's Action on Batches of Bills Leaves Educators Sorting out Impact on Schools

October 20, 2011

(Part 1 in a series)

During the first nine days of October, Gov. Jerry Brown was extremely busy, signing hundreds of bills that had been approved by the legislature, and vetoing many others. There were numerous bills in both categories that related to K-12 schools, and for the past ten days, educators have been assessing the impact of the Governor’s numerous decisions.

The Governor’s actions didn’t always follow the recommendations of various education stakeholder groups – and indeed, the various stakeholder groups sometimes took differing positions on whether a particular bill should be signed or vetoed...

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Two Senators Advance NCLB Overhaul Proposal – Obama Administration Offers Chilly Response

By Jeff Hudson - October 20, 2011

If now is not the time for mentoring…I don’t know when the time will be.

Each evening, I have occasion to watch as newscasters speak of a world seemingly spinning faster and faster. Communication occurs at a moment’s notice. From one side of the world to the other…we are connected. Leaders are expected to make decisions “now” and to have the answer “yesterday.” The social judgment capabilities that leaders and mentors are expected to possess, as I wrote of last month, include extraordinary levels of moral reasoning, social competence, and wisdom (Covey, 1997); all as important now as ever...

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Obama's Plan for NCLB Waivers Draws Mixed Reaction

September 29, 2011

President Obama’s announcement last week that he will modify some of the stiffer punitive measures in the Bush administration’s ten-year-old No Child Left Behind law via administration-issued waivers drew a mixed reaction from stakeholder groups and elected officials in California. While almost all groups were pleased to see changes being made to NCLB (which most educators regard as long overdue for an overhaul), and most stakeholders are sympathetic to the President’s frustration at Congressional inaction on the Obama Administrations proposals to modify NCLB, many in the education community were less than fully enthused about the new processes that the Obama Administration has proposed...

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Obama Announces NCLB Flexibility Plan for States

September 23, 2011

The White House announced a process on Friday that will allow states to get relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – or No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – in exchange for what the White House described as “serious state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college- and career-ready.”

States will be able to request flexibility from specific NCLB mandates, but only if they are transitioning students, teachers, and schools to a system aligned with college- and career-ready standards for all students...

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Legislation Stems from 2003 Abortion Protest

Brown Signs Bill Clarifying Limits, Setting Penalties for Public "Disruption" At or Near a School Campus

August 4, 2011

Governor Brown signed a bill this week that was written in response to a 2003 incident – subsequently contested in a long legal battle – involving anti-abortion protesters displaying a billboard-sized message near a middle school in Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County).

AB 123, by Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Norwalk), (1) defines a new misdemeanor that would be committed where a person creates a disruption at a school or a site adjacent to a school and the person intends to threaten the immediate physical safety of a student arriving at, attending or leaving the school, and (2) provides that the bill applies to any pupil at a school that has a preschool, kindergarten or grades one through eight...

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Brown Signs First Portion of California Dream Act, Broadening Financial Aid Availability for College

July 28, 2011

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 130 – known as the California Dream Act – which is one half of a two-bill package introduced by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) intended to make college more affordable for students brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Brown worked in a bit of symbolism by signing AB 130, which makes it easier for undocumented students to gain access to privately funded financial aid for college, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library at Los Angeles City College. In a light-hearted gesture, Brown placed the bill on Cedillo’s back as he officially signed the measure into law. Video of the signing can be found here...

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Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Federal Bill to Expand, Improve Afterschool Programs Nationwide

July 21, 2011

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, joined Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) last week to introduce the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, which would help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool programs across the country.

This legislation would reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, which has allowed millions of children to attend afterschool programs over the last decade – including over 1.6 million children last year...

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New Bill Gives Districts Additional 30 Days to Verify That Students Have Been Vaccinated for Pertussis

July 21, 2011

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson last Thursday praised the Legislature's swift passage of legislation to provide school districts an additional 30 days to verify that certain students are vaccinated against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

"I'm grateful that the Legislature has recognized our schools need some extra time to meet the immunization deadline," Torlakson said. "We don't want to see students lose precious learning time or be turned away from classes at the start of school. I urge the Governor to sign this legislation, and continue to also urge parents to immunize their children as soon as possible...

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Brown Signs Curriculum Bill Covering LGBT Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Persons with Disabilities

July 14, 2011

On Thursday, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed SB 48 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which relates to the contributions to California history by gay and lesbian Californians, Pacific Islanders and persons with disabilities in social studies textbooks used in California’s public schools.

In a statement, Gov. Brown said “History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books...

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New Laws Extend Cyber Bullying Ban to Social Media, Requires Mental Health Professional as SARB Member

July 14, 2011

Two bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown last Friday will impact K-12 school districts:

AB 746 – Cyber-bullying

This bill tweaks and clarifies the definition of cyberbullying, specifically adding language regarding bullying of others through social networking websites.

An existing California law (AB 86, dating from 2009) already gave school officials the right to suspend or expel a student for bullying another student over the Internet via email, cell phone, or by other electronic means. However, social networking websites were not explicitly addressed in AB 86, and they have grown in popularity tremendously during the past two years...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - July 7, 2011

Following this week’s deadline for bills to pass out of policy committees, a number of measures with fiscal implications will head to Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, July 11th. Here are the summaries of the remaining measures up for hearing next week.

Finance

AB 130 (Cedillo D) Student financial aid: eligibility: California Dream Act of 2011. 
Introduced: 1/11/2011  Last Amended: 5/2/2011
Status: 6/28/2011-In committee: Hearing postponed by committee. (Refers to 6/27/2011 hearing)...

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Bill Requiring Schools to Include Gays, Lesbians in Social Studies Curriculum Goes to Governor's Desk

By Jeff Hudson - July 7, 2011

California legislators sent Gov. Brown a bill on Tuesday that, if signed, would require California public schools to include the contributions of the gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, and others as part of the social studies curriculum.

The bill, SB 48 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), cleared the California Assembly on a 49-25 vote. The bill had cleared the California Senate in March, and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether or not he will sign it. A similar bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 29, 2011

Legislators will have a number of bills waiting for them after the July 4th holiday weekend. Assembly Education Committee Chair Julia Brownley (D – Santa Monica) will have her education finance reform bill, AB 18, heard in the Senate Education Committee, and Senator Alex Padilla (D – Pacoima) will present his two bills altering assessments for English Language Learners to the Assembly Education Committee. Here are the summaries of these three measures along with a few other notable bills to be heard next Wednesday, July 6th.

Finance

AB 18 (Brownley D) Education finance: school-based financial reporting system: Targeted Pupil Equity funding: Quality Instruction funding...

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NCLB Creating “Slow Motion Train Wreck”

Duncan Will Propose ESEA “Flexibility” Package if Congress Does Not Act Soon on Reauthorization

June 16, 2011

The Obama Administration plans to provide regulatory flexibility around the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act if Congress does not complete work on a reauthorization bill for the Obama Administration’s new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) prior to the August recess, in order to help support reform efforts underway at the state and local level.

Speaking on Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Congress for working on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to rewrite NCLB – but Duncan also pointedly warned that the much criticized Bush Administration law “is creating a slow-motion train wreck for children, parents and teachers,” and called for Congress to act soon...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 16, 2011

Both Assembly and Senate Education Committees are set to hear bills next week on Wednesday, June 22nd. Dozens of measures are up, including a companion bill to the Dream Act by Assembly Member Gil Cedillo (D – Los Angeles). Several important charter school bills are scheduled to be heard along with measures impacting mandates, English learner testing, and California’s education data system. Summaries of these and other important bills are below.

Finance

AB 131 (Cedillo D) Student financial aid.
Introduced: 1/11/2011  Last Amended: 5/27/2011
Status: 6/8/2011-Referred to Com. on ED...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 9, 2011

The relative lack of committee activity during the next few weeks may be symptomatic of Legislators’ preoccupation with other issues. The first drafts of new maps of revised legislative district boundaries will be coming out soon, and will foreshadow the fate of numerous seats in the Legislature. The upcoming constitutional budget deadlines similarly portend the fate of paychecks scheduled to be received by each legislator. Once again, Long Beach Senator Alan Lowenthal’s (D) Education Committee is the only committee hearing a large number of bills next week. Here are the summaries of the major bills Chairman Lowenthal and his committee will hear on June 15th.

Finance

AB 202  (Brownley D)  Local educational agencies: reimbursable state mandates...

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Analysis

Steinberg Legislation Would Let Districts Impose New Local Taxes – But Is the New Bill a "Brushback Pitch" to GOP?

By Jeff Hudson - June 2, 2011

Art lovers have long discussed the meaning behind the Mona Lisa – the portrait painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1500s, depicting a woman whose knowing-but-inscrutable smile seemingly indicates that she possesses a secret – but she isn’t telling.

There’s a somewhat similar situation in Sacramento right now, where Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the Democratic leader in the upper house of California’s legislature, is pressing ahead with a bill known as SB 653...

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So If There's a Special Election, When Would It Be?

By Jeff Hudson - June 2, 2011

There has been lots of talk in Sacramento lately about the need for an extension of existing temporary taxes, which will expire this month. The alternative would be another round of state budget cuts, with K-12 education expected to take another $5 billion hit.

However, different figures in the state budget debate have taken different positions in terms of when and how the existing temporary taxes should be extended.

Here’s a short list, intended to help educators keep track of who is favoring what...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 2, 2011

Friday, June 3rd is the Legislative deadline for all bills to pass from their respective houses of origin. As both the Senate and Assembly work this week (and likely late into Friday night) to move bills, the Senate Education Committee is getting a head start on the growing list of Assembly bills assigned to their committee. Below are the summaries of the first few Assembly measures they will hear on Wednesday, June 8th.

Finance

AB 169 (Torres D) Education finance.
Introduced: 1/20/2011  Last Amended: 3/25/2011
Status: 5/12/2011-Referred to Com. on ED...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - May 26, 2011

The deadline for bills to be passed by Senate and Assembly Appropriations committees is this Friday, May 27th. Naturally, there are dozens and dozens of bills on both committees’ suspense files that will either die or become “two-year bills” for next year. With the budget eating up much of the Legislature’s intellectual time and firm spending caps in place, very few measures are expected to pass off the suspense file on Friday. Here are the summaries of the bills on the suspense file, whose fate will be revealed on Friday.

Finance

AB 131 (Cedillo D) Student financial aid.
Introduced: 1/11/2011  Last Amended: 4/6/2011...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - May 5, 2011

While the Assembly Education committee takes a break from hearing bills next week, the Senate Education committee will hear several high profile measures on Wednesday. These bills address teacher layoff, substitute pay, transitional kindergarten, and curriculum issues. While only ten bills are on the agenda, the discussion is sure to be lengthy…and lively. Here are the summaries of the high profile bills up for consideration.

Finance

SB 871 (Runner R) School district employees: compensation.
Introduced: 2/18/2011  Last Amended: 4/25/2011...

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Topic Will Be Back on Agenda in July

After Much Discussion, SBE Posts Parent Trigger Regulations for 15-Day Comment Period

By Jeff Hudson - April 28, 2011

After a discussion that began early in the morning, and continued well into the afternoon, the State Board of Education did the expected thing last Thursday, and posted proposed regulations for implementing the Parent Trigger law for public comment.

Actually, several alternate versions of the regulations were discussed. The SBE looked at a staff-drafted proposal for the regulations, as well as a version drafted and submitted by a “working group” composed of representatives of the Association of California School Administrators, charter schools groups, and others...

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Legislation Would Have Generated Revenue for Schools

"Soda Tax" Quickly Scuttled In Assembly Committee

By Jeff Hudson - April 28, 2011

A proposed “soda tax” bill – which would have levied a one penny tax per fluid ounce on soda, energy drinks  and other sugary beverages, raising an estimated $1.7 billion annually to support public schools — was quietly shelved by an Assembly committee on Monday.

The legislation, AB 669, had been introduced by Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Santa Cruz), with support from a number of health advocacy groups, as well as several newspaper editorials. However, the proposed bill faced stiff opposition in the Republican-dominated California Assembly, as well as from groups including the California-Nevada Soft Drinks Association and the Center for Consumer Freedom, which contended the bill unfairly singled out one product in the war on obesity...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 28, 2011

Committee action in the Capitol was in high gear this week; however, fast-approaching legislative deadlines mean this is only the beginning of the action. Both Education committees will meet next week to hear the next round of bills in the midst of the ongoing budget debate. In fact, Budget Subcommittees on Education in both houses will be meeting, adding to the already frenetic pace here in Sacramento. Here are the summaries of the bills in Education committees next week.

Finance

AB 18  (Brownley D)   School-based financial reporting system.  
Introduced: 12/6/2010...

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SBE Taking another Look at Parent Trigger Regs

By Jeff Hudson - April 21, 2011

The State Board of Education (SBE) was expected to spend much of Thursday’s meeting discussing the latest version of state regulations regarding the implementation of the Parent Trigger law – the fourth time the SBE has discussed the matter in recent months.

The Parent Trigger issue dates back to January 2010, when the California Legislature hastily pushed through a bill by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles), which was quickly signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (the famously “post partisan” Republican). The bill was primarily aimed at putting California in a position to claim a portion of the federal money for education reform being advanced through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 21, 2011

Legislators returning from spring break will have their hands full in Education committee hearings next week. The bills on the committees’ agendas are all scheduled for a first-round of vetting before the Legislature; neither the Assembly nor Senate committees are ready to take up bills passed over from the opposite house. Here are the summaries of the bills facing committee members for the first time on Wednesday.

Finance

AB 165 (Lara D) Pupil fees.
Introduced: 1/20/2011    Last Amended: 4/13/2011...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 7, 2011

The flood of bills through both houses of the Legislature is in full swing. Appropriations committees are currently hearing the fiscal-related bills that passed policy committees in prior weeks, and both the Senate and Assembly Education Committees will be sending more bills along after hearings next week. Here are the summaries of the bills to be heard on Wednesday, April 13th.

Finance

AB 251  (Fuentes D)   High schools: career technical education.
Introduced: 2/3/2011    Last Amended: 3/15/2011...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 1, 2011

No hearings are scheduled for the Assembly Education for next week while several Senate bills will be heard in the Senate Education Committee, along with a second hearing on SB 161 (Huff) in the Senate Health Committee. Here are the summaries of the Senate bills to be heard next week.

Finance

SB 509    (Price D)   Instructional materials: funding.  
Introduced: 2/17/2011
Status: 3/29/2011-Set for hearing April 6...

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Duncan Visits LA, Calls Again for Overhaul of NCLB

March 24, 2011

Speaking in Los Angeles on Tuesday, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan called once again for an overhaul of the federal No Child Left Behind law and urged Los Angeles school management and teachers union leaders to negotiate a new contract that strengthens teacher evaluations.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Duncan said “L.A. faces a perfect opportunity, not a perfect storm," during a speech at a United Way of Greater Los Angeles education summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center...

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Senate Education Committee Starts In On Bills

By Sean P. Farrell - March 17, 2011

Senate Bills 107 (Lowenthal-D), 114 (Yee-D), 128 (Lowenthal-D), 140 (Lowenthal-D), and 161 (Huff-R) passed through the Senate Education Committee during their first bill-centric hearing, on Wednesday morning.

SB 161 would authorize the State Department of Public Health to develop performance standards that would allow a school district the option to train employee volunteers to administer Diastat to pupils suffering from epileptic seizures...

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San Francisco Legislator Introduces Anti-Bullying Bill in Sacramento

March 17, 2011

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill this week that would establish specific requirements for California schools when they deal with school bullying.

AB 9 would ensure that every school in California implements updated anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and programs that include actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as well as race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, disability, and religion. It would also empower students and parents to know what their rights are, and how to advocate for them...

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Proposed Bill Would Impact Free Speech at Schools

By Sean P. Farrell - March 10, 2011

In March of 2003, two members of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform drove enlarged images of aborted fetuses around a middle school campus in Southern California. According to accounts by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), some students going to class that day cried in response, some became angry, others stood in the streets and gawked, but all were shocked when confronted by a graphic exercise of the group’s right to free speech.

School administrators called the police, and the group was forced to leave the area. The Center for Bio-Ethical reform then filed a lawsuit claiming that the administrators and the authorities had violated their first and fourth amendment rights...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - March 10, 2011

The first major hearings in both Senate and Assembly Education Committees will take place next week on Wednesday, March 16th. First on the agenda for the year will be measures on teacher evaluations, substitute pay, Common Core Standards adoption, and Diastat (Read Sean Farrell’s February article for more on Diastat), to name a few. The summaries of these bills are below.

Finance

AB 169 (Torres D) Education finance.  
Introduced: 1/20/2011
...

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Bipartisan Team Introduces Federal Anti-Bullying Bill

March 10, 2011

The National Safe Schools Partnership, a coalition of over 80 youth, health and education organizations led by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, praised Tuesday’s reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), lead co-sponsor Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 17 total bipartisan co-sponsors.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include enumerated characteristics of students most often targeted, such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity...

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Duncan Warns NCLB Could Rank 82 Percent of Schools as "Failing" This Year, Urges Congress to Fix Law Soon

March 10, 2011

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Congress on Wednesday that his department estimates that 82 percent of America's schools could fail to meet education goals set by No Child Left Behind this year. Duncan urged Congress to fix the law before the next school year begins so that the schools and students most at risk get the help they need.

“No Child Left Behind is broken and we need to fix it now,” said Duncan during testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - March 3, 2011

Here is the second of our two-part “Bills on the Move” edition, tracking the final list of introduced bills that crossed the desk on Friday, February 18th. Click here to review part one of the series. A significant number of the new bills are “spot bills” intended as placeholders for legislative ideas that aren’t quite ready for primetime. The summaries below include a few spot bills from Senator Alan Lowenthal (D – Long Beach) who, as the chair of the Senate Education Committee, will likely use these placeholders to introduce one or two high-priority bills for his committee’s consideration...

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Responding to Outcry on Parent Trigger, Torlakson Says "No One Has Proposed Dismantling the Law"

March 3, 2011

In the wake of multiple newspaper editorials defending the “parent trigger” law (as reported in EdBrief last week), in addition to news stories and postings by irate bloggers suggesting that the legislation is about to be gutted, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson fired off a letter to newspaper editors this week stating that some of the recent criticism aimed in his direction is misplaced.

In a letter dated Monday, Torlakson said:

Reports that California's "parent trigger law" is in peril are way off the mark...

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Students Speak at Senate Education Committee Hearing, Advocating for More Counselors, Better Representation

By Sean P. Farrell - March 3, 2011

The Senate Education Committee convened on Wednesday, February 23, in front of a younger audience than is typical for this Committee. Members from the California Association of Student Councils (CASC) filled the back half of the hearing room.

The ongoing debate over budget cuts to education rages on between adults – seemingly above the heads of the youth who have the greatest stake in the outcome of the debate. This hearing gave students a chance to come to the podium and allowed them to share their input with legislators...

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Senate Education Committee Off to a Cautious Start as Budget Uncertainty Looms Large

By Sean P. Farrell - February 24, 2011

The Senate Education Committee met for the first time this legislative session on the morning of February 16th to review bills and hold an informational hearing on implementing the new Common Core Standards for curriculum. Chairing the committee this year is Senator Alan Lowenthal (D – Long Beach), with Senator Bob Huff (R – Diamond Bar) returning to the Vice Chair’s seat. Click here to view the full Committee roster.

The only bill on the docket was SBX1 1, authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento)...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - February 24, 2011

Almost a thousand bills crossed the desk on Friday, February 18th, the Legislature’s deadline for introducing new bills. Here is the first set of summaries of the more notable education bills from last Friday’s barrage. Part II will follow in next week’s edition of EdBrief.

Finance

AB 1075 (Fuentes D) Education finance: revenue limits.
Introduced: 2/18/2011
Status: 2/20/2011-From printer. May be heard in committee March 22...

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Controversial Diastat Legislation is Back

By Sean P. Farrell - February 17, 2011

The notion that only medically-trained professionals are qualified to administer an emergency epilepsy treatment to students experiencing seizures is once again up for debate in the legislature.

Last year, Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) introduced Senate Bill 1051 that would have allowed a school district the option to train employee volunteers to administer Diastat to pupils suffering from epileptic seizures...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - February 17, 2011

The Friday, February 18th deadline for newly introduced bills is approaching, and legislators are beginning the process of cramming hundreds of bills in at the last minute. All topics are on the table, including some measures that failed to make the cut from last year. Many of these bills serve as “spot” bills that will undergo substantial amendments in the future as the authors flesh out their legislative ideas. Below is an initial list of the bills introduced this week with hundreds more on the way before midnight on the 18th...

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New State Budget Options Surface, Child Care Cuts Debated and Trailer Bill Language Emerges

By Vernon Billy & Jeff Hudson - February 3, 2011

While California’s budget crisis has dominated the activities of the legislature and governor for several years now, it is probably fair to say that the election of Governor Jerry Brown has added a new dynamic to the state’s budget process, and greater sense of urgency.

With the Governor’s self-declared March 1st deadline for passing a new state budget, the legislature – and lobbyists – have kicked into high gear over the various elements in the new Governor’s proposed budget...

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Gov. Brown Urges Tax Extension, References Egyptian Protests

February 3, 2011

In a brief 15 minute State of the State address on Monday night, Gov. Jerry Brown laid out his case that California’s voters should decide in June whether or not to extend current temporary taxes – thus avoiding billions in additional cuts to schools and other state services.

“It would be unconscionable to tell the electors of this state that they have no right to decide whether it is better to extend current tax statutes another five years or chop another $12 billion out of schools, public safety, our universities and our system of caring for the most vulnerable,” Brown said...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - February 3, 2011

New bills introduced in the past two weeks address pupil fees, state mandates, pupil record privacy, and the use of helmets in snow sports.  Here are the summaries of these bills and several others likely to stir up conversation around the Capitol this legislative session.

Finance

AB 165 (Lara D) Pupil fees.  
Introduced: 1/20/2011
Status: 1/21/2011-From printer. May be heard in committee February 20...

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New PPIC Poll

Survey Finds Majority of Voters Willing to Raise Taxes to Prevent Further Cuts to K-12 Education

January 27, 2011

Two-thirds of Californians say a special election on Governor Jerry Brown’s tax and fee proposal is a good idea, and a majority are generally satisfied with his budget plan. These are among the key findings in a statewide survey released on Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) with support from The James Irvine Foundation.

In the first weeks of the new governor’s term, the state’s fiscal crisis and worries about the economy weigh heavily on Californians’ mood. But they are decidedly more optimistic than they were last fall about the direction of the state...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - January 13, 2011

The latest round of introduced bills for the 2011-12 legislative session includes some measures that may seem vaguely familiar. Returning legislators have reintroduced failed bills from prior years hoping that a new administration and new committee members may look more favorably upon certain issues. Below are the summaries of these and other measures introduced so far this year.

Finance

SB 64 (Liu D) State mandates: school district test claims procedure...

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Several Groups Complain of Late Release of Documents

SBE Pushes Ahead with Parent Trigger Regulations

By Jeff Hudson - December 16, 2010

The State Board of Education (SBE) pushed ahead with proposed regulations relating to the Parent Empowerment / Parent Trigger section of former Sen. Gloria Romero’s legislation SBX5 4, which was signed into law on January 7, 2010, and became effective on April 12, 2010.

Under the Romero legislation, a majority of parents can force sweeping changes at a school through a petition process.  The proposed regulations discussed by the SBE on Wednesday – which will be posted for a 15-day public comment period as a result of Wednesday’s action by the SBE – cover what sort of parent signatures on petitions will be considered valid, and related topics...

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Speaker Pérez Names Committee Members for 2011-12 Session

By Andrew Keller - December 16, 2010

On Wednesday, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez released a new list of Assembly committee members for the 2011-12 legislative session. Several committee chairs have changed, committee sizes increased and decreased, and there are a number of new faces in the education committee. The Speaker’s full list of all committees is below.

Accountability and Administrative Review
Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, Chair
Assemblymember Martin Garrick, Vice Chair
Assemblymember Marty Block
Assemblymember Joan Buchanan...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - December 16, 2010

The looming $28 billion budget deficit has not deterred lawmakers from introducing bills for the next legislative session. Some of the bills introduced this week look to address the revenue problem by extending temporary vehicle licensing fees set to expire soon, alleviating some pressure on the K-14 budget. Other bills this week address local government transparency, military and immigrant tuition, and the inclusion of LGBT figures in social science curriculum. Here are the summaries of these bills.

Finance

AB 66 (Chesbro D) Taxation: vehicle license fees...

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House Approves Child Nutrition Bill, Expanding Eligibility for School Lunch Programs

December 9, 2010

Last week, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 264-157, passed the Child Nutrition Bill, which was had been supported by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her campaign to combat childhood obesity.

The $4.5 billion child nutrition bill – already approved by the Senate – would effectively ban some greasy foods and sugary soft drinks from schools, steps that many California school districts have already taken on their own...

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L.A. Legislator Introduces Legislation Proposing New Teacher Evaluation System

December 9, 2010

Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) this week introduced legislation – AB 5 – that would establish a new state system for evaluating teacher effectiveness.

Fuentes said that the bill would create “a uniform, support-driven teacher evaluation system in California.  I believe the time has come for the state to ensure that all pupils, regardless of race/ethnicity or zip code, have a fundamental right to be instructed by an effective, qualified teacher.”...

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Rhee Launches New Advocacy Group

December 9, 2010

Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of Washington, DC Public Schools announced on Monday the launch of StudentsFirst (www.StudentsFirst.org), a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform. StudentsFirst, to be based in the nation’s capital, is designed to mobilize parents, teachers, students, administrators, and citizens throughout the country to channel their energy to produce meaningful results on both the local and national level. Rhee will serve as the organization’s CEO...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - December 9, 2010

The 2011-12 legislative session is underway as of December 6th.  Legislators are already wading into dangerous waters with two bills aimed at reforming teacher evaluations.  Other bills introduced serve as placeholders for future legislation to come, including new measures around transitional kindergarten, cyberbullying, and open enrollment. Here are the first summaries of these bills...

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Pérez, Steinberg Back Suit Challenging Governor's Veto of Mental Health Mandate for Special Needs Students

December 2, 2010

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) this week announced they have directed the Legislative Counsel to submit an amicus letter on the California Legislature’s behalf to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, urging the Court to directly take a case challenging Governor Schwarzenegger’s attempt to unilaterally suspend a state mandate, rather than requiring the case to come up on appeal from a trial court...

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CTA Praises Torlakson's Quality Education Investment Act as "Model Intervention Program"

December 2, 2010

After watching and listening as teachers unions took a beating through the fall in newspaper articles and radio programs discussing filmmaker David Guggenheim’s charter school documentary “Waiting for Superman,” the California Teachers Association (CTA) this week rolled out a charm offensive to tout the results of the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) – a piece of legislation supported by the CTA that was authored by then-State Sen. Tom Torlakson (the candidate successfully supported by the CTA in November’s runoff election for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.)...

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New K-12 Rules Going into Effect

Federal Court Rulings and New Legislation Set the Scene for Education in 2011

By Andrew Keller - November 17, 2010

Following a tumultuous legislative year in which the debate over teacher evaluations took center stage, the education landscape is taking shape for 2011 — but not as expected.

Typically mundane issues like public employee compensation and pupil immunizations took center stage at many policy committee hearings.  Federal courts overturned expanded definitions of “highly qualified” teachers.  And early childhood education advocates successfully rolled back kindergarten start dates for all districts...

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Schwarzenegger Calls Yet another Special Session to Address New $6 Billion Budget Hole

November 17, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will call a special session of the Legislature in December – during his final weeks in office – in an effort to address a new multi-billion-dollar hole in the recently-approved state budget, which was belatedly adopted (following months of delays) in October.

The outgoing governor's announcement came one day after the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) projected that California’s state government now faces a “budget problem of $25.4 billion between now and the time the Legislature enacts a 2011-12 state budget plan...

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Duncan Urges Lame Duck Congress to Pass Legislation to Improve School Meal Programs

November 17, 2010

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday urged passage of legislation to improve school meals before the conclusion of the 111th Congress.  Duncan and Vilsack highlighted the opportunities for improving the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs through the child nutrition bill pending in the House and how kids throughout the country will have access to healthier meals...

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Democrats Score Clean Sweep of Statewide Offices; Voters Send a Mix Message on Budgeting

By Vernon Billy - November 4, 2010

After a contentious race against his rival, billionaire Meg Whitman, Attorney General Jerry Brown claimed victory as the new Governor of California.  Brown’s victory, was just one of the many statewide seats Democrats won on election night.

Looking at the big picture, the Golden State did not follow the national trend toward big gains for the Republicans, combined with the election of several Tea Party-affiliated candidates. In California, the Republicans got shut out, as the Democrats won (or appear to have won) every statewide constitutional office...

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O'Connell Keeps Blasting Schwarzenegger Over Recent CALPADS and CalWORKS Vetoes

November 4, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell continues to issue a string of statements blasting recent vetoes by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Monday, O’Connell announced that implementation of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), the state's longitudinal education data system, has led to great progress in enrolling eligible children for free meals without the need to complete any additional paperwork. O'Connell warned that further progress to efficiently enroll hungry students in school nutrition programs will be delayed as a result of the Governor's veto of funding for CALPADS...

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Special Education Lawsuit Filed In Response to Vetoes

O'Connell Blasts Governor Schwarzenegger for Vetoes

October 28, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell – a frequent critic of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in recent weeks – has issued two more blasts.

Last Thursday, O’Connell called on Governor Schwarzenegger to “tell the truth to working families” who are impacted by the Governor’s veto of the CalWORKS Stage 3 program.

“The California Department of Education (CDE) has been inundated with calls this past week from panicked families who have just learned that they no longer have access to needed child care services due to the Governor’s veto of the CalWORKS Stage 3 program,” said O’Connell...

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Critics Continue to Describe Bill as Flawed

CDE Releases Updated List of 1,000 Schools Subject to Open Enrollment Act in 2011-12

By Jeff Hudson - October 21, 2010

On October 8, the California Department of Education (CDE) quietly released an updated list of 1,000 schools that will be subject during the 2011-12 school year to the Open Enrollment Act – a relatively new law that drew substantial criticism from several members of the State Board of Education during their September meeting, with several members describing the legislation (authored by outgoing Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles) as “flawed.”  Several school district superintendents from around the state also criticized the Open Enrollment Act. (Click here to see an earlier EdBrief article containing those remarks.)...

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O'Connell Objects, Aceves Approves

Governor Uses Line Item Veto to Idle CALPADS System

October 14, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a veto on Friday, nixing funding intended for the development and support of the California Department of Education’s California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CalPADS).

In his veto message, the Governor said “It is critical to have a statewide longitudinal data system to measure overall effectiveness of teachers, principals and schools. Without this data, reform efforts in our lowest achieving schools are paralyzed. The lack of a functioning system was also a significant factor in California's loss of federal Race to the Top funding, and enough is enough...

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California, It Looks Like We (May) Have A Budget

By Vernon Billy and Jeff Hudson - October 7, 2010

Almost 100 days after the constitutional deadline to enact a state budget, the legislature is moving this week to send the Governor a budget.  Based on the limited information available on Wednesday – and we hasten to add that actual legislation was still at the printing office as this article was written – all sides will be able to claim victory, to a degree.  Democrats protected childcare and education – at least from their perspective.  Republicans will trumpet that they staved off any new taxes.  And the Governor will say he got pension reform...

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Governor Signs Kindergarten Readiness Bill

Children Must Be Five-Years-Old to Start

October 7, 2010

Last Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). Simitian’s measure requires children to be five years old to start kindergarten, and provides an additional year of “Transitional Kindergarten” for children with fall birthdays.

California had been one of a handful of states that permit children to start as young as four years and nine months. Now California will join the majority of states who require children to be five by September 1...

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Still More Bills Signed by the Governor

By Andrew Keller - October 7, 2010

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Governor Schwarzenegger waited until the last minute to act on some of the 2010 legislative session’s biggest education bills. In one day, the Governor signed bills changing the kindergarten start date, providing access to fresh drinking water in school cafeterias, creating a new crime in “chronic truancy” and guaranteeing admission to CSU campuses for community college transfer students. Several other important bills failed to win his approval. Below are the summaries of these measures, our final edition for the 2010 legislative session...

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Governor Acts on Hundreds of Bills

By Andrew Keller - September 30, 2010

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Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed or vetoed a significant number of education bills on his desk. Several of the biggest education bills of the legislative session are still awaiting his action.  The Governor has until midnight September 30th to either sign or veto all bills sent to him in the regular legislative session. Here are the summaries of a number of bills he signed this week, as well as those he vetoed.

 

Signed

AB 184 (Block D) Special education funding.  
Introduced: 2/2/2009  Last Amended: 8/17/2010...

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Maldonado Signs Two Bills, New Federal Funds Now Flowing to California School Districts

September 16, 2010

Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, who was acting governor while Governor Schwarzenegger is in Asia, signed last Friday Senate Bill (SB) 847 and Assembly Bill (AB) 185 into law. The two bills authorize the state to distribute federal education funds (from the federal Education Jobs Bill) and take effect immediately.  California school districts should start seeing the funds within the next few weeks.

California's Constitution requires that without a state budget, any appropriation bill, like SB 847 and AB 185, may not be sent to the governor's desk unless the governor requests them by a formal letter...

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Legislature Votes on Budget – No Progress Made

By Vernon Billy - September 2, 2010

On Tuesday, both houses of the California legislature voted on the Governor’s May Revise, as well as the more recently proposed Democratic alternative.  As expected, neither proposal garnered enough votes to be forwarded to the Governor for consideration.

The votes in each house were essentially split along party lines. Capitol insiders call these types of votes “drills,” because it is understood beforehand that there is no bipartisan agreement, and therefore the budget proposals will not reach the two-thirds majority needed for passage...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - September 2, 2010

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Tuesday night, August 31st, was the deadline for any bill to be passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor.  In traditional last-minute fashion, legislators debated bills on both the Assembly and Senate floors right up until the clock struck midnight.  New bills came up, old bills died, and some bills even found themselves rewritten into other bills.  Below are the summaries of the major bills that survived the deadline, and now sit before the Governor.

Finance

SB 1425 (Simitian D) Public retirement: final compensation: computation: retirees...

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Salary Disclosure Bill Would Affect School Boards, Other Officials – State Legislature Included

By Vernon Billy - August 19, 2010

The recent controversy surrounding the exceedingly high salaries of some City of Bell officials, and the former executive director of the state school boards’ association, has sparked a legitimate flurry of questions and concerns by some state officials about the use of public funds. 

In responding to the crisis du jour , Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) recently “gut-and-amended” SB 501 to require local government governing board members and employees who are otherwise required to file a statement of economic interest to annually file a compensation disclosure form...

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California Schools Could Receive $1.2 Billion as President Signs $10 Billion Teacher Job Bill

August 12, 2010

The House of Representatives – summoned back to the nation’s capital by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for an unusual summer session – passed the $10 billion federal teacher jobs bill on a largely party line vote on Tuesday, and President Barack Obama signed the legislation later the same day. The legislation, signed by the President after its passage in the House, is aimed at preventing the loss of an estimated 161,000 teacher jobs across the nation as children begin returning to their classrooms...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - August 12, 2010

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With the state Legislature back in full swing and an August 13th deadline for bills to pass Appropriations committees in either house, the halls of the Capitol are packed with people looking to push through last-minute legislation. Many of these bills are on Appropriation suspense files, while others are ready to be heard before full Senate and Assembly floor sessions. Here are summaries of the bills looking to survive this Friday, the 13th.

Finance

SB 1161 (Lowenthal D) Education: school finance.  
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 4/20/2010
Status: 8/5/2010-Set, first hearing. Referred to APPR. suspense file...

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Federal Education Bill Moves Ahead

Senate Approves $10 Billion to Prevent Teacher Layoffs, Pelosi to Call House Back Into Session

August 5, 2010

Senate Democrats managed to advance legislation on Wednesday that would provide states with additional funding for education, Medicaid and other programs – overcoming a Republican filibuster. The $26 billion package passed by Senate Democrats and two Republicans provides $16.1 billion for Medicaid and $10 billion nationwide for local school districts to prevent imminent teacher layoffs.

Attention now turns to the House of Representatives, which is currently on summer break...

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Democratic Leaders Pérez and Steinberg Announce Revised Budget – Suspension of Prop 98

August 5, 2010

Earlier this summer, there were three state budget proposals on the table – one from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, another from Assembly Speaker John Pérez, and a third from Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg – something of an anomaly, given that Sacramento politics is generally a two-party game.

Having alternate proposals from the Democratic legislative leaders seems to have done little other than further complicate a situation that has long since turned into a stalemate.  So on Tuesday, Pérez and Steinberg tried a different tactic, and rolled out a new joint Democratic proposal, the updated “California Jobs Budget.”...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - August 5, 2010

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Legislators had plenty of work to do this week upon returning from summer recess.  Most of the bills heard this week were in the Appropriations committees.  Here are some of the bills heard in Appropriations this week.

Finance

SB 1161 (Lowenthal D) Education: school finance.  
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 4/20/2010
Status: 7/1/2010-From committee: Do pass, but first be re-referred to Com. on APPR. with recommendation: To Consent Calendar. (Ayes 9. Noes 0.) Re-referred to Com. on APPR. (Heard in committee on June 30.)...

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Civil Rights Groups Ask Obama Administration to Evaluate RTTT, Charter School Accountability

July 29, 2010

A coalition of civil rights groups met with Obama Administration officials on Monday, and discussed a 17-page document in which the civil rights groups politely asked the Obama Administration to reconsider several key aspects of education policy.

The document – titled “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn” – is a collaboration by groups including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Schott Foundation for Public Education, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition for Educating Black Children, National Urban League, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc...

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New Emergency Regulations on Open Enrollment, Parent Empowerment Opposed by ACSA

July 22, 2010

In an alert sent to members on Wednesday, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) restated its opposition to the emergency regulations for the Open Enrollment Act, as well as emergency regulations relating to Parent Empowerment of that bill, which were approved last week by the State Board of Education (SBE).

As reported in EdBrief last week, the State Board of Education (SBE) voted on July 15 to approve sending to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) a set of emergency regulations to speed up the implementation of State Sen. Gloria Romero’s Open Enrollment Act (SB X5 4 – Chapter 3)...

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Second Lawsuit Seeks to Force Overhaul of California's Public Education Finance System

July 15, 2010

A new lawsuit aimed at forcing an overhaul of California’s public education finance system was filed in Alameda Superior Court on Monday, on behalf of a coalition of grassroots groups and individuals representing low-income students and parents across California.

The lawsuit calls on state government “provide all California public school students with a new school finance system that sufficiently and equitably supports its public schools, so that every child has a reasonable opportunity to obtain a meaningful education that prepares them for civic, social, and economic success in the 21st century.”...

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Governor Signs AB 346, Clarifying Fingerprinting, Background Check Requirements for Volunteers

July 15, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed AB 346 by Assemblymember Connie Conway (R-Tulare), which clarifies fingerprinting requirements and background security checks for school volunteers.  The law takes effect immediately.

Basically, the intent of the legislation is to ensure those individuals who are working directly with students at a school sponsored activity are fingerprinted.  But the fingerprinting requirement does not apply to individuals who are in programs “affiliated with” a school district; the bill only deals with school sponsored pupil activities...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - July 15, 2010

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In a fairly light hearing Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee members took up a number of Assembly bills.  A majority of these bills are headed for the suspense file, while more line up for the committee’s next hearing on August 2nd.  Here are summaries of a few bills heard on Thursday.

 

Finance

AB 317 (Solorio D) School attendance: H1N1 (2009) influenza virus.  
Introduced: 2/18/2009  Last Amended: 1/15/2010
Status: 7/7/2010-In committee: Hearing postponed by committee. (Refers to 6/24/2010 hearing)...

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Teacher Layoffs

Steinberg Measure Survives First Bout with Unions in Assembly Education Committee

By Andrew Keller - July 1, 2010

On Wednesday, members of the Assembly Education Committee took up over twenty Senate bills prior to the deadline for such measures to pass out of policy committees.  For over five hours, advocates and legislators hammered out amendments and debated issues ranging from pupil surveys of their teachers to categorical flexibility to teacher layoffs.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s (D – Sacramento) Senate Bill 1285, dealing with teacher layoffs, became the focus of the first two hours of the hearing...

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Several Charter School Accountability Bills Heat Up Discussion in Senate Education Committee

By Nate Rose and Jeff Hudson - July 1, 2010

At Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee hearing, the contentious debate over the future of California’s charter schools was “up front and center.”  Recently released studies have raised questions regarding the overall effectiveness of charter schools in closing the achievement gap between subgroups of California students.  And pressure has been placed upon the legislature to strengthen accountability and oversight for charter schools...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - July 1, 2010

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With the July 2nd deadline for bills to pass out of policy committees fast approaching, legislators pushed over 50 bills through the education committees on Wednesday. Some major bills made it through, including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s controversial SB 1285 dealing with teacher layoffs. Here are summaries of a few of the bills moving forward.

 

Curriculum & Instruction

AB 2027 (Blumenfield D) Online education: school attendance.  
Introduced: 2/17/2010  Last Amended: 5/28/2010...

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Assembly Education Chair Brownley Introduces $6.1 Billion K-14 School Facilities Bond

By Jeff Hudson - June 24, 2010

A bill by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) that would authorize $4.6 billion in Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bonds for K-12 education projects will be heard by the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday.

The Brownley bill – AB 220 – includes a proposed $2.5 billion for new construction of K-12 facilities, as well as $1 billion in K-12 modernization funds.  There would also be bond funding for overcrowding relief grants, charter schools, career technical education, and other categories...

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Budget Watch

Three Contending Budget Plans . . . Still No Solution

By Nate Rose and Jeff Hudson - June 24, 2010

As the Capitol approaches the start of the new fiscal year, the Democratic leadership faces not only a challenge from the Republicans but also from within their own party.

Since Governor Schwarzenegger released his “May Revise” budget, both the Senate Democrats and Assembly Democrats have released their own separate plans for dealing with the budget shortfall of around $19 billion.  Meanwhile, there has been little indication that the Budget Conference Committee will be able to piece together a budget from these three distinct plans any time soon...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 24, 2010

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In addition to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s new bill addressing teacher layoff issues, there are several important bills up for consideration in committee hearings next week. These bills address class size reduction penalties, high school graduation requirements, and online education. Here are summaries of a few of these bills.

 

Finance

SB 1161 (Lowenthal D) Education: school finance.   
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 4/20/2010
Status: 5/28/2010-To Com. on ED...

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Governor Signs Deferral Pre-Payment Bill, AB 191

By Vernon Billy - June 24, 2010

As we recently reported, (See June 17, 2010 EdBrief article Budget Conference Committee Takes Few Action on Education Funding) the legislature’s Budget Conference Committee announced that they were planning to introduce legislation that would speed up some deferral payments to school districts.

The legislature did approve AB 191, which proposes to pay a portion of the July deferral payment in June.  AB 191 was signed by the Governor on Wednesday...

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Steinberg Introduces Bill to Change Teacher Layoffs – Schwarzenegger Prefers Huff Version

By Jeff Hudson - June 17, 2010

State Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) introduced legislation (SB 1285) on Monday that would make a number of changes in the way school districts can lay off teachers. Steinberg – while acknowledging that his bill would likely be controversial – said the legislation is needed “to protect students’ right to a quality education by preventing wildly disproportionate teacher layoffs and also improve the balance of teacher experience at California schools.”

Steinberg’s bill comes partly in response to a recent court decision in the Los Angeles Unified School District...

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State Fingerprinting Requirement for Coaches, Volunteers Expected to be Delayed by One Year

June 17, 2010

When Assembly Bill 1025 by Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Visalia) was signed into law last year, a number of questions and concerns immediately arose in the field regarding its fingerprinting requirements. As a result, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and several other education groups from both management and labor organized to address issues that were raised by the legislation.

Another bill has been introduced that will delay implementation of AB 1025 for one year – until July 1, 2011 – which will create an opportunity to introduce clean-up legislation...

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Critics Decry "Texas Textbook Massacre"

California Bill Would Ensure Curriculum Alterations Won't Affect Students Here

June 3, 2010

One week after the Texas State Board of Education approved what critics termed “several extreme right-wing curriculum changes” to textbooks approved in that state, the California Senate responded last Friday by approving legislation written to ensure California textbooks are not affected by the Texas alterations.

Due to the large number of public school students in that state, the changes in Texas could significantly influence textbooks throughout the country, since publishers often develop materials based on the standards of larger states...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - June 3, 2010

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Last Friday was the fiscal deadline for the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees to approve bills introduced in their respective chambers. Below is a list of some of the bills that made it through the committees.

 

Curriculum & Instruction

AB 2027 (Blumenfield D) Online education: school attendance.   
Introduced: 2/17/2010  Last Amended: 5/28/2010
Status: 6/1/2010-Read second time. To third reading...

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Assembly Speaker Pérez Introduces Alternative Budget Solutions, Proposal Provides $5.8 Billion More To Schools

By Vernon Billy - May 27, 2010

In a surprise move, Assembly Speaker John Pérez introduced an alternative budget solutions package that essentially sells $9 billion in bonds to Wall Street bankers and securitizes those bonds with funds from the California Beverage Recycling Fund (CBR). 

In addition to the $9 billion in bond funding, the Speaker proposes additional revenue that includes:

  1. $1.2 billion (approx.) in new oil production taxes...

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Senate, Assembly Panels Block Governor's Proposed May Revise Cuts to Child Care Funds

May 27, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell on Tuesday commended the Senate Budget Subcommittees for blocking a proposal in the Governor’s May Revision to eliminate state-funded child care programs and support services.  The item was heard before the Senate Education Budget Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this week O’Connell also applauded the Assembly Education Budget Subcommittee and the Assembly Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee for stopping the proposal last week...

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Trade-offs Involved in Substituting CTE for Language Courses

Legislation Proposes Alternatives for Some High School Graduation Requirements

By Andrew Keller and Nate Rose - May 20, 2010

In an attempt to address California’s devastating high school drop-out rates, Assembly Member Warren Furutani has proposed a change to high school graduation requirements.

A 2006 study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of a High School Dropout,” found that forty-seven percent of dropouts were disinterested in their classes.

Nevertheless, the study’s survey also revealed that eighty-one percent of these students believed a high school graduation was necessary for success in life...

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Obama Administration Supports Allocating Emergency Funds to Save Teachers' Jobs

May 20, 2010

In a White House blog posting last Thursday, Melody Barnes, director of the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council, released a letter supporting House and Senate legislation that would allocate additional funding to preserve jobs for teachers in local schools.

Barnes wrote “We know that economic prosperity and educational success go hand in hand, which is why the Obama Administration is concerned by looming state and local budget cuts that threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - May 20, 2010

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With the Governor’s revision to the budget sucking up all the political air in Sacramento, most bills with fiscal implications have been held up in the suspense files of both houses’ appropriations committees. Expect to see some intense lobbying in the coming weeks. Here is a breakdown of the more consequential measures stuck in appropriations committees.

 

Finance

AB 1683 (Torres D) Education: finance.
Introduced: 1/26/2010...

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Issue Could Heat Up with 2010 Census

AB 2330 Aimed to Modify California Voting Rights Act Stymied in Assembly Committee

May 13, 2010

A bill dealing with the manner in which the California Voting Rights Act can affect schools has been stymied in the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary.

Assembly Bill 2330, Arambula, I-Fresno, would prevent people from suing a county office of education or school district for an alleged violation of the CVRA unless the person has first presented a written claim to the COE or district and they have had 30 days to respond.  Currently the only option for a complainant is to first file a lawsuit...

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Bill Would Define Duties, Roles of Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, and Secretary of Education

May 6, 2010

Senate Bill 1186 (Liu, D-Pasadena) could make a major shift in the way education is governed at the top in our state.  The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), along with the Small School Districts Association, has already gone on record in support of the bill.

“ACSA supports SB 1186 as a common-sense approach to bringing balance back to education governance,” said ACSA Legislative Advocate Sherry Skelly Griffith...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - May 6, 2010

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Dozens of bills are piling up on the desks of Senate and Assembly committees this week as the May 7th deadline for bills to pass their policy committees approaches.  Several key bills are to be heard for the first time in these committees along with one or two that ruffled feathers in previous weeks, back for additional hearings with amendments in tow.  Here are summaries of those bills.

 

Finance

AB 2252 (Torrico D) California state preschool programs: funding.  
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 4/5/2010...

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Senate, Assembly Committees Discuss New Bills

Education Advocates Converge on Sacramento

By Andrew Keller - April 29, 2010

Advocates from all over California converged on the Capitol last week to voice opinions on education issues.

Grassroots activists walked from Bakersfield to Sacramento in protest of education budget cuts while the typical jet-setters flew in from L.A. and D.C. to debate teacher seniority and layoff legislation.

Education committees in both the Senate and Assembly convened on Wednesday to give all comers an opportunity to put their issues on the table...

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Senate Rejects Oropeza

April 29, 2010

The California Senate has blocked one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nominees to the state Board of Education (SBE), with Democrats claiming she had a conflict of interest.

The Senate voted 17-11 Thursday – along party lines – to reject Jeannie Oropeza, who the Governor named to the SBE in March. The Democratic leadership, including Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, indicated they felt her regular job as Schwarzenegger's appointee specializing in education issues at the Department of Finance means she would not be a sufficiently independent voice on the SBE...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 29, 2010

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Over 50 bills passed across the desks of members of the Senate and Assembly Education Committees on Wednesday, April 21st.  Several of these pieces of legislation seek substantial changes to K-12 and higher education policy.  Here is a breakdown of the more ambitious measures that passed the first test of the Legislature.

 

Finance

AB 2252 (Torrico D) California state preschool programs: funding.  
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 4/5/2010...

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SB955, Governor-Backed Bill Proposes Major Changes, Teacher Layoffs

Republican Bill Proposes Major Changes in Teacher Seniority, Layoffs and Dismissal

By Jeff Hudson - April 20, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched a push on Tuesday in support of a Republican bill containing a variety of changes in state education code that would have a major impact on relations between school districts and bargaining units representing teachers.

Last week, Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) introduced a new version of his bill SB 955, which contains some sweeping changes..

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Sen. Harkin Introduces Federal Bill to "Keep Our Educators Working"

April 15, 2010

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and of the Senate Appropriations panel that funds education initiatives, introduced federal legislation – the “Keep Our Educators Working” Act on Wednesday.   The bill will create a $23 billion Education Jobs Fund to help keep teachers, principals, librarians and other school personnel on the job as states face crippling budget shortfalls...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 15, 2010

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The Legislature took up a sizable chunk of bills in the past few weeks, but many are still on the agenda before the April 23rd deadline for bills with a fiscal component. Below are summaries of several of the measures that will be considered by the legislature in the coming week.

 

Finance

AB 2027 (Blumenfield D) Online education: school attendance.  
Introduced: 2/17/2010
Status: 4/7/2010-In committee: Set, first hearing. Hearing canceled at the request of author...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 8, 2010

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Last Wednesday, the Assembly took up 24 bills on a wide range of topics. Next Wednesday, April 14th, the Senate will take up a similarly large number of measures. Here are the summaries of the more substantial bills up for consideration.

 

Finance

SB 1136 (Cox) Education finance: revenue limit apportionments.  
Introduced: 2/18/2010  Last Amended: 3/22/2010
Status: 3/22/2010-From committee with author's amendments. Read second time. Amended. Re-referred to Com. on ED...

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California's Race to the Top Application Ranked 27th Out of 41, Well Down the List

By Jeff Hudson - April 1, 2010

It wasn’t even close.  California didn’t finish in the top half of applications for Phase 1 of federal Race to the Top funding, according to information released by the federal Department of Education on Monday.

California’s application was ranked 27th among the 40 states (plus the District of Columbia) that filed applications for Phase 1 funding under RTTT. Fourteen applications were approved as finalists, with Tennessee ($500 million) and Delaware ($100 million) getting the largest awards...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - April 1, 2010

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After Spring Recess, Legislators will return to take up an additional round of bills. Next Tuesday, April 6th, the Assembly Education Committee will hear testimony on twenty four bills. Topics under discussion include charter schools, pupil records, turning around the lowest-achieving schools, and of course...finance. Below are summaries of these bills.

 

Finance

AB 1683 (Torres) Education: finance.  
Introduced: 1/26/2010...

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Social Studies Texts Revised

San Francisco Legislator Objects to Texas Textbook Changes, Vows to Introduce Bill

March 25, 2010

California State Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D. (D-San Francisco) will introduce legislation in Sacramento designed to ensure recent changes to school textbooks in Texas do not affect California’s curriculum.

Earlier this month, the Texas State Board of Education approved several textbooks containing what Yee regards as “extreme right-wing curriculum changes.” Due to the number of public school students in the state, the changes in Texas could drastically influence textbooks used throughout the country...

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Duncan Lays Out Proposed NCLB Makeover, National Teachers Unions Take Dim View

By Jeff Hudson - March 18, 2010

Education Secretary Arne Duncan outlined the Obama administration’s proposed makeover of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) at a press conference on Monday – one of the opening volleys in the Administration’s long-awaited plan to revise the Bush Administration’s widely unpopular No Child Left Behind legislation.

Duncan said the Obama Administration proposes to phase out a number of provisions of No Child Left Behind...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - March 18, 2010

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Legislation introduced last month is already being scheduled for policy hearings in the legislature. This week, we take a look at the bills piling up for the Assembly Education Committee on March 24th. Here is a list of those bills.

 

Finance

AB 1874 (Evans) Education finance: Vallejo City Unified School District.  
Introduced: 2/16/2010
Status: 2/25/2010-Referred to Com. on ED...

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State Fiscal Stabilization Funds On Hold

Feds Respond to Education Advocates, Demand Governor's Response to Questions About State's "Maintenance of Effort"

By Jeff Hudson - March 11, 2010

The federal Department of Education says that California appears to have run afoul of federal “maintenance-of-effort” (MOE) requirements relating to federal funding for education that California hopes to receive in 2010 and 2011 under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program (See the February 5, 2010 EdBrief article “Battle Brewing Between School Districts & State Over Federal Funds Application”).  As a result, millions of dollars that the state planned to receive for education are now on hold...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - March 11, 2010

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Following the Governor’s signing of ABX8 5, deferring funds for education as a one-time solution to the state’s cash flow problem, legislators approved ABX8 14 as a “clean-up bill” designed to assuage concerns voiced by school districts during the deferral hearing process.  Additionally, the Senate Education Committee is preparing to hear the first round of this year’s new bills on March 24th.  Here are the summaries for these bills as well as ABX8 14.

 

Finance

ABX8 14 (Committee on Budget) State cash resources.  
Introduced: 1/15/2010...

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Senate Passes Deferral Clean Up Legislation

By Vernon Billy - March 4, 2010

Last month, the Governor signed into law AB8x5 which set out a host of deferrals for K-12, community colleges and other local governments. The deferrals contained in the bill were intended to help state government cope with cash flow problems and avoid higher state-level borrowing costs and the issuance of more IOUs.

While these deferrals help the state address its cash flow problems, they do the exact opposite for school districts and other local governments by forcing these institutions to borrow more money for short-term loans, and reducing their available general fund dollars...

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John Pérez Sworn In as Assembly Speaker, Reflects on Education in Inaugural Remarks

March 4, 2010

The new Speaker of the California Assembly – John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) was sworn in on Monday.  His inaugural speech as Speaker did not contain a much in the way of policy statements relating to K-12 education, but it did include some personal recollections from his experience as a teenage high school student visiting the State Capitol, and working on homework with help from his father, who had a sixth-grade education.  Here are some highlights drawn from those remarks...

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Governor Taps Reiss as Secretary of Education

February 26, 2010

A newly released survey from the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of Bonnie Reiss as Secretary of Education on Tuesday.

“Bonnie Reiss is a dynamic and driven advocate for public education in California.  She is a proven ally in upholding the academic standards that make our public university system the best in the world,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am confident that as Secretary of Education, Bonnie will fight to expand the educational opportunities available to all of our students...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - February 26, 2010

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This week is all about the budget. After filling a $2 billion gap in the budget – out of $20 billion – earlier in the week, lawmakers looked to other fixes for the remaining funds. Up for debate are adjustments to state lottery revenues, funding deferrals to K-12 and higher education, and a complex gas tax swap. Here is a breakdown of the bills related to these issues.

 

Finance

AB 142 (Hayashi) California State Lottery.  
Introduced: 1/22/2009  Last Amended: 2/1/2010...

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Survey Finds Voters Want K-12 Schools Funded

February 19, 2010

A newly released survey from the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California found that most Californians would be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for public schools, and most favor spending cuts in prisons and corrections.

The survey also found that Californians are feeling gloomy about the economy and pessimistic about the state’s direction.  Their approval ratings for the governor (30 percent) and Legislature (18 percent) are near record lows...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - February 19, 2010

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As the February 19th deadline for introducing bills approached, Legislators crammed hundreds of new bills into the Senate and Assembly. While the focus in the coming months will almost certainly remain fixed on the budget deficit, plenty of education issues are floating around for debate as well. Here are a few of the more interesting bills to keep an eye on this year.

 

Finance

AB 1851 (Norby) Education finance: inflation adjustment to revenue limits.
Introduced: 2/12/2010...

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Notes from the State Capitol

Sacramento’s Buzzing with Activity . . .
Politics, Budget, Mandates & More

By Vernon Billy - February 12, 2010

Cash-Ola.  State Controller John Chiang announced that the State collected $1.28 billion more in tax revenue in January than what the Governor projected in his proposed 2010-11 budget.  This announcement was in contrast to Chiang’s earlier statement that the State would face another cash crunch and dip into the “red” in April.  The Controller now projects the State will run out of money in July.

The recent bounce in revenue is good news, but it’s not clear if this increase represents a one-time jump due to stock market activity, or a sign of an improving economy...

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Battle Brewing Between School Districts and State Over Federal Funds Application

By Andrew Keller - February 5, 2010

While the Governor’s budget proposal takes center stage in Sacramento, several red flags are drawing the attention of education leaders throughout the state.  Lobbyists for individual school districts and county offices of education such as San Diego, San Francisco, and San Bernardino County Office of Education are at odds with the administration over accounting tactics used in the state’s application for additional stimulus funds from the federal government...

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Assemblymember Hayashi Pushes Bills Designed to Reduce Injuries among High School Athletes

January 29, 2010

Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) convened a press conference Wednesday to discuss legislative efforts to reduce the incidence of multiple concussions among high school athletes.  State leaders and advocates joined Hayashi to discuss the impact such injuries are having on student health and safety, including the risk of coma, brain damage, and even death.

“Many high school students return to play too early after a head injury, placing them at risk for another concussion,” stated Assemblymember Hayashi...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - January 29, 2010

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A number of bills passed the deadlines for two-year bills and successfully transitioned from 2009 to 2010, while several new bills were introduced in each house. Here are a few of the more interesting bills before the Legislature this winter.

 

Curriculum & Instruction

AB 391 (Torlakson) Pupil assessment: STAR Program.  
Introduced: 2/23/2009  Last Amended: 1/25/2010
Status: 1/27/2010-Read third time, passed, and to Senate.

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Assembly Republicans Select New Leader

By Vernon Billy - January 22, 2010

Following the election of John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) as the incoming Assembly Speaker earlier this month, the Assembly Republicans wasted little time in electing a successor to replace termed-out Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) as the new Republican Leader.  Their pick – Martin Garrick (R-Carlsbad). 

Garrick represents the 74th Assembly District in northern San Diego County.  He is the founder of Admiral Industries, a telecommunications company, and former official in the Reagan White House...

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MLK Birthday Speech in Atlanta

Secretary Duncan Calls Education the "Civil Rights Issue of Our Generation"

January 22, 2010

In a recent speech to more than a thousand elementary, high school and college students who gathered to celebrate the 81st birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged America to realize King's vision through education.

Calling education the “civil rights issue of our generation,” Duncan said, “Freedom is the ability to think and to pursue your own path—and only education can give you that freedom.”...

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Governor Signs RTTT Bills – Sweeping Changes to Open Enrollment and Parent Participation to Affect Schools

By Jeff Hudson and Andrew Keller - January 8, 2010

With the stroke of his pen, Governor Schwarzenegger on Thursday signed into law a package of two bills reforming several major components of California’s education system, with potentially far-reaching implications for many school districts.

Months of back and forth dialogue between legislators, interest groups, and administration officials culminated in several sweeping changes that address the four key reform areas in Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative...

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Governor Proposes Higher Education Funding Initiative; Pits Colleges against Prisons

By Vernon Billy - January 8, 2010

When the Governor gave his State of the State Address early this week, one of the center pieces of his speech was his call for the State to start spending more money on higher education than it spends on prisons.   The Governor called for a constitutional amendment that would mandate an increase in higher education funding, excluding community colleges, while reducing general fund support for prisons.

This new call for increased spending for higher education was greeted with cautious optimism by the higher education community and with significant concern by some in the prisons and corrections industry...

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State Senate Passes Hastily-Drafted RTTT Legislation, SBX5 4 Heads to Assembly with Major Opposition

By Jeff Hudson - December 18, 2009

In the latest flurry of legislative activity relating to California’s likely application for federal Race to the Top funds, a compromise bill swiftly advanced through the California Senate on Thursday.

The process began when Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) pulled her bill ABX5 8, which had been approved by the California Assembly last week, after the Assembly Education Committee killed a competing measure, SBX5 1, which had been introduced by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles)...

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January Deadline

O'Connell, Thomas Announce Requirements for Local Education Agencies to Participate in Race to the Top

December 14, 2009

In a development that will have many school district superintendents scrambling to meet a fast-approaching January deadline, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and Education Secretary Glen Thomas on Monday announced the release of key elements that will be included in California’s Race to the Top plan, as well as the requirements for local education agencies (LEAs) that want to participate in Race to the Top. (See links to the MOU documents in the lower part of the article)...

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Race to the Top

Romero Bill Halted, Brownley Bill Approved by Assembly – Schwarzenegger Threatens Veto

By Andrew Keller and Jeff Hudson - December 11, 2009

During two furious days of legislative activity, the Assembly Education Committee blocked Race to the Top-related legislation by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles). Romero’s bill was supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, charter school advocates, and others – it was passed by the California Senate in November.

Instead, the Assembly voted 47-25 on Thursday evening to approve a competing RTTT-related bill by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), supported by CTA, ACSA, and others...

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U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan Urges State Legislators to Rewrite Laws

December 11, 2009

In remarks clearly intended to be heard in Sacramento, federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged state legislators to become leaders of the school reform movement and urged them to carefully review their education codes to identify places where state law is impeding reform.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon in San Diego to the fall forum of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Duncan said that legislators have the power to write laws that will create an environment where reforms can take root and improve the achievement of students...

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New Assembly Speaker Picked by Democratic Caucus

By Vernon M. Billy - December 11, 2009

After a fierce, but relatively short-lived battle between Assemblyman John Pérez and Assemblyman Kevin de León, the contest over who would become the next Assembly Speaker quickly came to an end on Thursday during a tense Democratic Caucus meeting where Pérez was selected by Democrats as their choice for Speaker.

Pérez, who was just elected in November 2008, is the cousin of former Assembly Speaker and current LA Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa.  Pérez also has ties to labor unions as a former representative of the United Food...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - December 4, 2009

Several new special session bills were introduced in the Assembly before the Thanksgiving holiday. A summary of each bill is provided below.

Human Resources

ABX5 5 (Nestande) Education: teacher credentialing.  
Introduced: 11/23/2009
Status: 11/23/2009-Introduced. To print.

Summary: This bill would authorize the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to approve an institution, including an institution of higher education...

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California Assembly Speaker Battle Heats Up – Two Los Angeles Legislators Fight for Votes

By Vernon M. Billy - December 4, 2009

Since the end of the legislative session in September, there have been ongoing rumors about various Assembly members jockeying to replace Karen Bass (D-LA) as Speaker of the Assembly next year.  Speaker Bass is termed out in 2010 and is expected to keep with the term-limit era tradition of announcing a speakership transition in the early spring of her last year in elected office.

According to Capitol sources, the field of contenders for Assembly Speaker has dwindled down from a group of about six serious candidates to two – Assembly members Kevin de León and John Pérez...

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Assembly RTTT Hearing Ends in a Massive Bill

By Andrew Keller - December 4, 2009

Wednesday’s final Assembly Education Committee hearing on Race to the Top came to a close with Chairwoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) introducing ABX5 8 as the Assembly’s flagship bill for this fifth extraordinary session.  The hearing and subsequent legislation represent the culmination of a two month effort to solicit input on California’s RTTT application from various stakeholders.

Since the committee’s first hearing on the subject back in late September, dozens of groups have testified about the many merits and potential perils to aligning California’s educational priorities with federal reform guidelines...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - December 4, 2009

Several new special session bills were introduced in the Assembly before the Thanksgiving holiday. A summary of each bill is provided below.

Human Resources

ABX5 5 (Nestande) Education: teacher credentialing.  
Introduced: 11/23/2009
Status: 11/23/2009-Introduced. To print.

Summary: This bill would authorize the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to approve an institution, including an institution of higher education...

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LAO Posts Grim Fiscal Forecast – $20 Billion Budget Deficit, Prop. 98 Owed $1 Billion

By Vernon M. Billy - November 20, 2009

The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its Fiscal Outlook for the State from 2009-10 through 2015.  The LAO report confirms that while the national economy appears to be stabilizing, California is facing several more years of budget difficulties due to past budgeting practices and the impact the national recession is having on the state’s revenue picture. 

The LAO’s forecast of California’s General Fund revenues and expenditures shows that state government is facing $20.7 billion budget problem between now and the time the Legislature enacts a 2010-11 state budget plan...

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O'Connell and Schwarzenegger Urge Assembly to Speed Up Work on Race to the Top Legislation

November 20, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a news conference in Los Angeles on Thursday to urge the California State Assembly to accelerate work on Race to the Top (RTTT) bills in order to ensure California’s eligibility to compete for the unprecedented federal funds available through the Race to the Top.

The Race to the Top competition is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)...

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Speaker and Assembly Education Chair Move Up RTTT Hearing, Set Dates for Votes

November 20, 2009

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) joined with Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, on Monday to announce the Assembly is accelerating its Race to the Top hearing schedule and the development of education reform legislation to help ensure California can apply for the first round of federal Race to the Top education grants.

A committee hearing will be pushed up to Dec. 2, from Dec. 16, to help ensure California schools can compete to receive a significant share of the first round of Race to the Top grants...

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Governor Schwarzenegger: I Think There Will Be Across-the-Board Cuts Again

November 13, 2009

To no one’s surprise, California’s budget situation appears to be getting worse.

On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger predicted a new round of budget cuts, which he will probably propose in January.  He estimated that the current fiscal year’s budget is $5 billion to $7 billion in the red, on top of the $7.4-billion deficit projected by his aides for the fiscal year that begins in July.

In remarks on Tuesday at the signing ceremony for SBX7 7 (to rebuild California’s water system), the Governor fielded questions on other topics...

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California Senate Swiftly Approves RTTT Funding, Stirring Praise and Criticism

By Jeff Hudson - November 6, 2009

A bipartisan bill aimed at improving California’s chances at receiving federal Race to the Top funding – which contains provisions that have generated some concern and even opposition in the K-12 education community – sailed through two committees and the California Senate this week.

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-0 on Monday to approve SB X5 1.  The Senate Appropriations Committee then approved the bill by a 7-3 margin on Tuesday.  Later that day, the full Senate approved the bill just after midnight (technically Wednesday), by a 21-12 vote...

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Controversial Initiative Enters Circulation, Requires Schools to Offer Christmas Music

By Jeff Hudson - November 6, 2009

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Monday that the proponents of a new initiative – requiring public schools to offer Christmas music – may begin collecting petition signatures for their measure.

The California Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

REQUIRES PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO OFFER CHRISTMAS MUSIC. INITIATIVE STATUTE.  Requires public schools to offer an opportunity for students to listen to or perform Christmas music during the holiday season...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - November 6, 2009

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In this fifth extraordinary session of the Legislature, the Senate has passed two bills designed to support California’s application for federal Race to the Top funds. These bills survived the Senate Education Committee, Appropriations Committee, a vote on the Senate floor, and now await approval by the Assembly. Here is the latest summary of those bills.

Human Resources

SBX5 1 (Romero) Public schools...

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New District of Choice Law: Will It Be a Detriment to Some and a Benefit to Others?

By Tahir Ahad, Brett McFadden and Adonai Mack - October 30, 2009

A few weeks ago, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 680 (Chapter 198/2009) into law.  The bill extended the “District of Choice” (DOC) program until 2017 and made several significant changes beyond current law.  The new law goes in effect on Jan1, 2010.

The DOC is not a well known program in the annals of California K-12 policy. Under current law, a specific number of districts could be certified by the state to be DOC’s. This declaration allowed them to accept a specified number of inter-district transfers...

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Two-Year Education Bills Held Over at Capitol

Staff Report from Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) - October 30, 2009

Although 2008-09 legislative session bills that were vetoed by the governor will have to start over, there are many two-year bills that are continuing through the legislative system.  The following education bills did not make it to the governor’s desk, but may be taken up in the 2009-10 session:

Assembly Bill 164, Mendoza (D-Artesia).  School districts: compensation of district superintendents.  This bill would require the governing board of a school district to include specified provisions in any contract for the services of a district superintendent, including the authority to terminate the superintendent...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - October 30, 2009

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While the Senate Education Committee prepares for a series of hearings next week, the Assembly has sent the Governor a complex solution for the reductions made to QEIA schools in the last round of budget cuts. Also, Assemblyman Tom Torlakson recently introduced a bill addressing the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in California. Here is a summary of those bills.

Finance

ABX3 56 (Evans)  Education finance...

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Feds Announce Public Meetings on RTTT, No Meetings in California

October 23, 2009

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that it will hold public meetings in Boston, Atlanta and Denver – but not in California – during November and December, seeking comment that will influence upcoming Race to the Top Assessments and help states make plans to qualify for federal funding that will become available next year.

Specifically, the goals for the meetings are two-fold: first to gather technical input to inform the development of a Race to the Top Assessment Competition; and second to enable states...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - October 23, 2009

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As California begins the application process for federal Race to the Top funds, both the Senate and Assembly are working on several bills in this fifth extraordinary session to make the state’s application more competitive. Here is a synopsis of those bills.

Human Resources

ABX5 1 (Solorio)  School accountability.  
Introduced: 9/29/2009
Status: 9/30/2009-From printer...

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State Senate Passes Latest QEIA Fix

By Vernon Billy - October 16, 2009

On Wednesday, the State Senate passed a number of bills in the Special Session that were not passed at the end of the regular session on September 11th.  One of these bills was AB 3x 56 (Evans), which is the latest funding fix to the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) program.

The state budget enacted during the summer created a convoluted mix of revenue limit cuts and funding swaps to try and sustain funding for the QEIA program...

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On Final Day for Action, Schwarzenegger Signs SB 19, Removing Barrier to RTTT Funding

October 16, 2009

After keeping educators and political observers in suspense for several weeks, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 19 last Sunday, as part of an avalanche of bill-signings and vetoes announced on the final day for the Governor to act.

(See an earlier EdBrief article about the political maneuvering surrounding SB 19 by clicking here.)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell thanked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signing the bill...

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Bills on the Move

By Andrew Keller - October 16, 2009

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The Governor signed hundreds of bills this past Sunday and vetoed hundreds more in a whirlwind of legislative activity. Here is a list of some of those bills.

Finance

AB 851 (Brownley)  Education finance.  
Introduced: 2/26/2009,  Last Amended: 9/2/2009
Status: 10/11/2009-Chaptered by the Secretary of State, Chapter Number 374, Statutes of 2009...

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Assembly Education Committee and LAO Review Race to the Top Funding

By Jeff Hudson - October 9, 2009

The Assembly Education Committee reviewed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and ARRA’s Race to the Top (RTTT) competitive grant program during a lengthy hearing at the state capitol last week.

It was the first of four informational hearings to be held by the Assembly Education Committee on RTTT funding.  The goal is to examine legislative action that would maximize California’s eligibility for funding, and convey information to school districts about the program...

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Will Governor Veto SB 19 (Simitian, D-San Jose) on Pupil Data, and Push to Link Teacher Pay to Test Results?

By Jeff Hudson - October 2, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Democratic legislative leaders, and some newspaper editorials are urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign SB 19 – a bill by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) that deletes existing language in an earlier Simitian bill (which became law in 2006) that – at least in the eyes of federal authorities – prevents the use of pupil data in teacher evaluation.

Supporters of SB 19 say the Governor’s signature on the bill would put California in a position to receive some of the billions of dollars for education...

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Duncan Opens Dialog on Federal Education Policy; Says Some Parents See NCLB as "Toxic"

By Jeff Hudson - September 25, 2009

Ever since President Barack Obama was elected last November, educators have been waiting to see what sort of changes he would propose to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation drafted under his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

On Thursday, Obama’s point man on the issue, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, finally initiated the discussion.  Duncan’s speech was perhaps long on rhetoric and short on details, but it indicates that a long anticipated debate about federal education policy has now begun...

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CSBA Opposes Confirmation of State Board of Education Member Rae Belisle

By Jeff Hudson - September 18, 2009

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) has come out swinging against State Board of Education (SBE) member Rae Belisle.

Belisle was appointed to the SBE by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and took office on March 11.  After observing Belisle’s performance at SBE meetings in March, May, and July, the CSBA sent a letter last Monday to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento and Senate President Pro Tem), formally opposing Belisle’s confirmation.  The Senate has until March 2010 to act on her appointment...

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Bills On the Move

By Andrew Keller - September 18, 2009

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With the adjournment of the legislative session last Friday, a number of bills were sent to the Governor for his signature or veto. Below is a list of some of those bills.

Accountability & Assessment

AB 167 (Adams)  High school graduation: local requirements: foster children.
Introduced: 1/28/2009  Last Amend: 6/17/2009
Status: 9/8/2009-Senate amendments concurred in.  To enrollment. (Ayes 78. Noes 0. Page 3091.)...

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Secretary Duncan: Another $6 Billion in Federal Race to the Top Funding in the Pipeline

By Jeff Hudson - September 11, 2009

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a fast tour through Sacramento last Thursday, talking up the federal government’s Race to the Top (RTTT) program, with an eye toward the special legislative session currently underway in Sacramento to consider bills that would increase California’s eligibility for a portion of the roughly $4 billion in funding under the initial round of RTTT. 

Duncan said another $6 billion in RTTT funding will become available over the next two-to-five years...

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CTA Launches Radio, Newspaper Ad Campaign

September 3, 2009

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is hitting the airwaves and newspapers with a new salvo of ads about funding for public education.

The statewide radio and print campaign marks the ninth annual back-to-school campaign by CTA, designed to remind all Californians that public education is essential to building stronger local communities and a better California for all of us...

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"Race to the Top" Draws Support, Criticism, and Differing Interpretations at Legislative Hearing

By Jeff Hudson - August 28, 2009

Many of California’s most prominent leaders in the area of K-12 education – as well as representatives of several major interest groups – staked out their positions on the federal “Race to the Top” (RTTT) program in a hearing at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

And while most of the opinions expressed didn’t come as a major surprise, the hearing offered a quick, vivid cross section of the political landscape as the legislature moved into a special session to discuss California’s eligibility for what could be hundreds of millions of dollars in RTTT funds...

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Governor's Race To The Top Reform Bill Introduced with Bipartisan Sponsorship

August 28, 2009

Education legislation proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger last week when he called a special session of the legislature was introduced on Thursday as the special session began.  The bill was introduced by Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) and Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad).

Schwarzenegger linked his proposal to the new administration in the nation’s capital, saying “The reforms outlined by President Obama and included in my bipartisan legislative measure will not only help...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - August 28, 2009

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This week, the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees met to consider their “Suspense” Files.  Below is a list of bills that that were either approved or held in the committees.

Accountability & Assessment

AB 167 (Adams)  High school graduation: local requirements: foster children.  
Introduced: 1/28/2009   Last Amend: 6/17/2009
Status: 8/27/2009-Do pass.  

Summary:   Existing law prescribes the course of study a pupil is required to complete while in grades 9 to 12...

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SPI Hopeful Reveles Expresses Support to Aceves; Candidates File Six-Month Financial Reports

By Jeff Hudson - August 28, 2009

Larry Aceves, a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), with week picked up the endorsement of Francisco Reveles, a Sacramento educator who had been a rival in the race for schools chief.

“I am proud to support Larry Aceves' campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction because we need the strong leadership of a lifelong educator at a time when our schools and our students are facing unprecedented challenges,” Reveles said...

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Governor Calls Special Session, Proposes New Legislation for "Race to the Top" Requirements

By Jeff Hudson - August 21, 2009

Citing a concern that current state law may leave California ineligible to apply for a portion of the $4.35 billion in federal funds under the “Race to the Top” program, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger moved on two fronts on Thursday.

The Governor called another special session of the California legislature, and also announced a legislative package that he said would ensure that California meets the eligibility requirements for “Race to the Top.”...

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O'Connell, SPI Hopefuls Differ on What 2009 STAR Test Results Mean For California Schools

By Jeff Hudson - August 21, 2009

Since roughly half of California’s students earned “proficient” scores (or higher) in several categories of the 2009 STAR test results, an oft-raised philosophical question comes to mind: Is the glass half full, or half empty?

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, and the three candidates who want to take over that job when O’Connell is termed out next year, took differing views of the STAR figures released by the California Department of Education on Tuesday...

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New SAB Subcommittee Hears from OPSC Staff, School Districts about Revised Audit Procedures

By Jeff Hudson - August 14, 2009

The State Allocation Board’s new Audit Subcommittee held its first hearing on Tuesday at the state capitol, with the goal of “defining the scope of OPSC (Office of Public School Construction) Audit Authority.”

Over the course of three hours of testimony, the hearing produced a good deal of talk about a “new day” featuring better cooperation between school districts and the OPSC – and a bit of static stemming regarding the OPSC’s procedures and attitude toward local districts...

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O'Connell Asks Governor, Legislature to Reconsider Instructional Material Suspension

By Jeff Hudson - July 31, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell would like the Governor and the Legislature to reconsider a provision of the new state budget that suspends the adoption of new school instructional materials for five years.  The move was intended to save the state money, since state government provides funds to school districts to buy textbooks and related material.

O’Connell warns that continuing to use old texts that are out of alignment with state standards will likely stall progress by students...

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Educators Offer Mixed Response to Budget Deal

By Jeff Hudson - July 24, 2009

Virtually no one involved with K-12 education actually likes the budget deal announced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders of both parties on Monday night.  Education took a lot of hits as the “Big Five” tried to close a $26 billion budget shortfall.

But with a budget agreement long overdue, and the new school year beginning in a matter of weeks, is it worth opposing the budget compromise? Might it be better to reluctantly accept this deal and move on?...

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Senate Approves State Budget in Early Morning, Assembly Action Still Pending

By Jeff Hudson - July 24, 2009

Slowly and painfully, the California Legislature began approving a complex package of more than 30 bills on Thursday, constituting the budget compromise announced on Monday night by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders of both parties.  The budget proposal includes broad budget cuts for almost every program funded by state government, including education.

Shortly after dawn on Friday morning, after working through the night, the California Senate completed action on the budget bills...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - July 17, 2009

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This week, the Senate and Assembly Education Committee gathered to consider a number of bills.  Below is a list of bills that were heard, as well as their current status.

Accountability & Assessment

AB 374 (Block)  Consequences of dropping out notice.  
Introduced: 2/23/2009,  Last Amended: 6/1/2009  
Status: 7/15/2009-From ED.: Do pass. To APPR.  

Summary:   Existing law subjects each person between 6 and 18 years of age who is not exempted...

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Senate School Facilities Panel Sizes Up Need for Better Schools, and Smoother Review Process

By Jeff Hudson - July 17, 2009

The Senate Select Committee on State School Facilities held a broad discussion of issues relating to school design, new construction and modernization on Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach, and the committee chairman) opened the session by reminding everyone that the committee was holding its first meeting.  Lowenthal sketched the size of the task before the committee by noting that California voters have, since 1998, approved over $35 billion in bond funding for school construction in the form of state ballot...

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Budget Agreement Could Be Near – But When Will Schwarzenegger, Legislators Close the Deal?

By Jeff Hudson - July 17, 2009

As budget negotiations aimed at closing California’s $26 billion deficit continued behind closed doors in Sacramento this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass indicated on Monday that they were making progress toward a deal.

Similar statements were heard again on Tuesday . . . and on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, Schwarzenegger told reporters that all parties were “very close” to an agreement.  But the lack of an announcement of an agreement led some to speculate that negotiations had stalled...

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Proposition 98 Suspension Opposed, O'Connell and Others Object

By Jeff Hudson - July 10, 2009

Should California suspend Proposition 98 – which guarantees a minimum funding level for K-14 education – as part of a plan to reduce the state’s mammoth $26 billion budget deficit?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent somewhat mixed signals on that question last week.  But the suggestion that Proposition 98 might be suspended triggered a quick rebuke from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and the California Teachers Association...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - July 10, 2009

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This week, the Senate and Assembly Education Committee gathered to consider a number of bills.  Below is a list of bills that were heard, as well as their current status.

Accountability & Assessment

AB 476 (Torlakson)  The Standardized Testing and Reporting Program.  
Introduced: 2/24/2009   Last Amend: 6/30/2009  
Status: 7/8/2009 – From committee: Do pass, and re-refer to Com. on APPR. Re-referred. (Ayes 7. Noes 1.) (July 8). 

Summary:  Existing law establishes the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (the STAR Program)...

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Budget Wrangling Continues, State Readies IOUs

By Jeff Hudson - June 26, 2009

The Democratic legislative majority, the Republican legislative minority and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continued to maneuver this week for the upper hand in the long-running three-way stalemate over California’s budget.

But with the clock ticking, and State Controller John Chiang warning that he may be forced start issuing IOUs to pay most of the state bills unless a deal is made by July 1, a budget compromise did not appear imminent – at least not on Thursday afternoon...

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Framework of Possible Budget Deal Emerging

By Adonai Mack (ACSA) - June 19, 2009

As the summer temperatures rose in Sacramento this week, so did the budget conversations.  This week the Joint Budget Conference Committee made the final votes to close the hearings on the state budget.  This sets the stage for the state budget bills to be presented to the entire Senate and Assembly for a floor vote.  There are several components of the budget which will be controversial, and may not become part of the final budget package.  The items voted on in the conference committee have something for everyone to hate: cuts, taxes, changes to the California High School Exit Exam...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - June 19, 2009

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This week, the Senate and Assembly Education Committee met to consider a number of bills.  Below is a list of bills that were heard, as well as their current status.

Attendance

AB 796 (Carter) Pupil Attendance: Civic Engagement Activities.  
Introduced: 2/26/2009  
Status: 6/17/2009-From committee: Do pass. (Ayes 6. Noes 1.) (June 17).  

Summary:  Existing law authorizes a pupil to be excused from school for specified reasons...

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Democrats Advance New Budget Proposal, Schwarzenegger Promises a Veto

By Jeff Hudson - June 19, 2009

Another partisan budget confrontation is playing out in Sacramento, with Democratic leaders in the Legislature advancing a “shared pain” budget proposal that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger insists he’ll veto.

For many political observers, who recall the long budget negotiations that stretched from last summer into February (which led to a special election on May 19, in which California voters decisively spiked a proposed budget compromise supported by the Legislature and the Governor), it feels like “déjà vu all over again,” to quote the baseball star Yogi Berra...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - June 12, 2009

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This week, the Senate Education Committee met to consider a handful of Assembly education bills.  Below is a list of bills that were heard, as well as their current status.

Assessment & Accountability

AB 167 (Adams)  High School Graduation: Local Requirements: Foster Children. 
Introduced: 1/28/2009,  Last Amended: 6/3/2009  
Status: 6/10/09 Do pass as amended, and re-refer to the Committee on Appropriations.

Summary:  Existing law prescribes the course of study a pupil is required to complete while in grades 9 to 12...

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Legislators Whack Governor's Secretary of Education's Office

By Jeff Hudson - June 5, 2009

After weeks of studying budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, legislators on the budget conference committee came up with a proposal of their own on Wednesday, voting to eliminate the state’s Secretary of Education (appointed by the Governor), as well as another agency not related to education, the state’s Office of Planning and Research.

California’s Secretary of Education is essentially the top advisor to the Governor on education issues.  The Secretary of Education heads a department with fewer than 20 employees...

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CSBA, ACSA Join Lawsuit to Ensure Repayment of $12 Billion in Prop. 98 Funds to Schools

June 5, 2009

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) have joined the California Federation of Teachers (CFT)  and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state of California to ensure that nearly $12 billion be repaid to K-14 public education.

The California Legislature suspended Proposition 98, the minimum funding guarantee for education, between the 2007 and 2009 fiscal years...

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SB 777 Challenge Dismissed

Student Harassment Law Remains In Place

By Brett McFadden, ACSA - June 5, 2009

This week, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge on tossed out a lawsuit against a state law that forbids harassment of public school kids because of their gender or sexual identity.  The lawsuit was filed last year by the California Education Committee (a conservative public interest group).  The lawsuit alleged that SB 777 (approved in 2007) would allow students to enter each others' locker rooms and was too vague to be properly implemented by school officials.  Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang's ruling stated that plaintiffs had failed to make their case...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - June 5, 2009

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This week, most news coverage at the state capitol focused on budget issues.  But in both houses of the legislature, the floor sessions were inundated with hundreds of bills.  Here is a list of bills that went through the Senate and Assembly floor.

Assessment & Accountability

AB 1435 (V. Manuel Perez)  Public school accountability.  
Introduced: 2/27/2009,  Last Amended: 4/29/2009  
Status: 6/2/2009-In Senate. Read first time. To Com. on RLS. for assignment.

Summary:  Existing law requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish an advisory committee...

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Governor Updates May Revise, Asks for Further Cuts to Education in Current Year's Budget

By Jeff Hudson - June 1, 2009

The political maneuvering over the debt-ridden California state budget continues in Sacramento – and it looks like further budget cuts for education might be in store.

Late last Friday, Gov. Schwarzenegger – through the state Department of Finance – issued an updated version of his May Revision to the budget.  This latest version takes into account the continuing decline in state tax revenues, which are currently estimated to be running $3 billion lower than originally expected in the May 14 budget revision, released barely two weeks ago...

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LAO Report Calls for Upgrades in Education Programs for California's Foster Youth

By Jeff Hudson - May 29, 2009

In a report on “The Education of Foster Youth” issued May 28, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) called for state government to “reprioritize the way existing funds are spent in order to improve educational opportunities for foster youth” – a high percentage of whom are performing below grade level.

The report finds that California has approximately 73,000 youths who are dependents of the state, representing a disproportionately large 20 percent of foster youth nationally...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - May 29, 2009

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On Thursday, hundreds of bills filed under suspense were heard before Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and its members.   Below is a list and summary of key bills that passed through the Committees’ Suspense File as well as some key bills that were held in committee and under submission.

Assessment & Accountability

AB 476 (Torlakson)  The Standardized Testing and Reporting Program.  
Introduced: 2/24/2009,   Last Amended: 4/14/2009  
Status: 5/28/2009-From APPR. SUSPENSE FILE: Do pass as amended...

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Voters Said "No!" – But Most Just Stayed Home

May 22,, 2009

As many EdBrief readers are aware, the complex budget compromise hammered out in February behind closed doors between Governor Schwarzenegger, Democratic legislators, and a few Republican legislators was placed before California voters on Tuesday – and the voters basically sent most of the package down in flames.

Many commentators observed that the voters “just said no,” and this point is hard to dispute. Propositions 1A, 1C, 1D, and 1E were rejected in every county, and they failed statewide by a roughly two-to-one margin...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - May 22, 2009

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This week, hearings in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees dominated the activity in the Capitol. Most of the authors of the bills waived presentation since their bills were referred to the Committees' Suspense File due to cost. Below is a list of key bills that went through the Committees.

Assessment & Accountability

AB 495 (Davis) Preschool: Data Collection.  
Introduced: 2/24/2009,   Last Amended: 5/13/2009  
Status: 5/20/2009-Set, first hearing.  Referred to Appropriations suspense file.

Summary: Existing law provides for the licensure of child day care centers...

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Sen. Romero Calls for Changes in Testing of California's English Learners

By Jeff Hudson - May 19, 2009

Senator Gloria Romero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, spoke at a rally in San Francisco on Monday, calling for fair enforcement of federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) testing requirements in a case challenging the state's refusal to test subject matter proficiency of California’s 1.6 million English Learner (EL) students in their native languages.

Speaking on the steps of the Earl Warren State Building, Romero said “We gather here today on the steps of the courthouse—the halls of justice—to advocate for the rights of English Learner students...

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Governor's May Revise Cuts School Funding, Plan "B" Budget Offered if Ballot Measures Fail

By Vernon Billy and Jeff Hudson - May 15, 2009

In an effort to spark voter interest in next Tuesday’s special election – and stem the tide of apathy among voters that many observers believe is carrying five budget-related ballot propositions toward likely defeat – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stirred things up on Thursday by releasing not one, but two versions of what the state’s 2009-10 budget could look like.

The two versions of the so-called “May Revise” will also serve to frame the budget debate that will occur in the aftermath of the May 19 special election. Regardless of how that election turns out, all observers are anticipating that there will be further cuts in state funding, in multiple areas...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - May 15, 2009

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This week, hearings in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees dominated the activity in the Capitol.  Below is a list of key bills that went to the Committees' Suspense File due to cost or was passed out of the Committee. Bills referred to the Suspense File will be considered for passage out of the committees in a few weeks.

Career Technical Education

SB 675 (Steinberg)  Energy job training: Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Job Training, Career Technical Education, and Dropout Prevention Act of 2010.  
Introduced: 2/27/2009,  Last Amended: 4/2/2009  
Status: 5/11/2009-Placed on APPR suspense file...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - May 8, 2009

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This week, hearings in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees dominated the activity in the Capitol. Below is a list of key bills that went to the Committees’ Suspense File due to cost and will be reconsidered after the May Revise is released or was passed out of the Committee.

Assessment and Accountability

AB 518 (Mendoza)  Public School Performance Accountability Program.  
Introduced: 2/24/2009,  Last Amended: 4/22/2009  
Status: 5/6/2009-From APPR.: To APPR. SUSPENSE FILE.

Summary: Existing law establishes the Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program...

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Propositions 1D and 1E

Funding Shifts to Support the State Budget

By Vernon M. Billy - May 8, 2009

This article is the last in a series of articles about the ballot measures on the May 19th statewide ballot.

As a part of the February budget deal, the Governor and Legislature agreed to place six measures – Propositions 1A-1F – before the voters that collectively would establish a new budget spending cap, repay schools almost $9.3 billion, securitize lottery revenue, shift mental health funding and limit legislative salaries in budget deficit years.

Propositions 1D and 1E both temporarily redirect hundreds of millions of dollars from voter approved initiatives to the State's General Fund...

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Proposition 1C

Funding Boost, or Lottery Boondoggle?

By Vernon M. Billy - May 1, 2009

This article continues our series on the budget and education ballot measures included on the May 19th statewide special election.  Please note that these articles will be lengthier than some of our normal articles.

As a part of the hard-fought February budget deal, the Governor and Legislature agreed to place six measures – Propositions 1A through 1F – before the voters.  Collectively, these propositions would establish a new budget spending cap, repay schools almost $9.3 billion, securitize lottery revenue, shift mental health funding and limit legislative salaries in budget deficit years...

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Prop. 1B Provides $9.3 Billion in Education Funding – But Only if Prop. 1A Passes

By Vernon M. Billy - April 24, 2009

This article is the second of several articles we will be publishing about the ballot measures on the May 19th statewide ballot.

As a part of the February budget deal, the Governor and Legislature agreed to place six measures – Proposition 1A through Proposition 1F – before the voters in May’s special election.  These propositions collectively would establish a new budget spending cap, repay schools almost $9.3 billion, securitize lottery revenue, shift mental health funding and limit legislative salaries in budget deficit years...

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Proposition 1A – What Does it Do?

By Vernon M. Billy, EdBrief and Brett McFadden, ACSA - April 17, 2009

This article is the first in a series we will be publishing about the ballot propositions on the May 19th statewide special election.  Please note that these articles will be lengthier than some of our normal articles.

As a part of the February budget deal, the Governor and Legislature agreed to place six measures – Propositions 1A through 1F – before the voters.  Collectively, these propositions would establish a new budget spending cap, repay schools almost $9.3 billion, securitize lottery revenue, shift mental health funding and limit legislative salaries in budget deficit years...

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Legislation Would Extend 'Pink Slip Deadline' for School Districts from May 15 to June 15

By Jeff Hudson - May 1, 2009

A proposed bill in the California Assembly would extend the "pink slip deadline" for layoffs of certificated employees in California school districts from May 15 to June 15, for this year only.

Assemblyman Jim Silva (R-Huntington Beach) introduced AB 32 as urgency legislation on April 21.  The bill requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature for approval, and (with the Governor's signature) would take effect immediately...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - May 1, 2009

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Here is a list of key bills that passed out of Assembly and Senate Education Committees this week:

Assessment and Accountability

SB 651 (Romero) Pupil retention
Introduced: 2/27/2009

Summary: This bill would require the Superintendent, on or before August 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, to submit to the Governor, the Legislature, and the state board, a report called the Annual Report on Dropouts in California...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - April 24, 2009

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Here is a list of bills that are scheduled for next week's legislative hearings:

Physical Education

AB 81 (Strickland, Audra) Interscholastic Athletics: Pupils in Foster Care

This bill would require that a foster child who changes residences pursuant to a court order or decision of a child welfare worker be immediately deemed to meet all residency requirements for participation in interscholastic sports or other extracurricular activities...

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Bill Targeting Superintendent Termination Clauses Pulled from Assembly Committee

By Laura Preston, ACSA - April 17, 2009

AB 164 (Mendoza, D-Artesia) is a bill that would prohibit K-adult superintendent contracts from containing severance and/or buyout clauses when a superintendent’s employment with a district is terminated by the board of trustees.  Under current law, superintendent contracts may include a buyout clause not to exceed 18 months of the individuals contracted salary and benefits.  The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is strongly opposed to this measure .

ACSA recognizes there are issues with the perception of a dismissal with pay for a school superintendent...

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Special Interests Focus on May 19 Election, Fate of State Budget At Stake

By Jeff Hudson - April 17, 2009

California's May 19 special election – in which voters will decide the fate of six budget-related ballot propositions, which will have a considerable impact on state funding for K-12 education – is now barely a month away.  And the contest is producing some "strange bedfellows" in the political realm.  Endorsements, at this point, are all over the map.

The six propositions – 1A through 1F – were placed before voters as part of the budget compromise reached in February this year, which was supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, legislative Democrats, and a few legislative Republicans – enough to reach the required two-thirds majority for passage...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - April 17, 2009

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Here is a list of bills that are scheduled for next week's legislative hearings:

Pupil Safety

AB 100 (Price) Pupil Athletic Access and Safety Program Pilot Project

This bill, subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act or other statute, would require the department or its administering contracting entity, by May 1, 2010, to request and review proposals submitted by eligible entities for the Pupil Athletic Access and Safety Program pilot project...

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Governor Receives Federal Stimulus Funds, Dollars Should Flow to Districts in May

By Jeff Hudson - April 10, 2009

California's elected officials want you to know that they're doing everything they can to get federal stimulus money out to schools.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said "I am committed to spending (American) Recovery (and Reinvestment) Act (ARRA) dollars efficiently and effectively, and to passing these dollars onto schools as quickly as possible to benefit students and protect jobs."

The Governor's staff issued a press release Tuesday, saying that the Governor's California Recovery Task Force had asked the legislature for expedited budget authority...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - April 10, 2009

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Here is a list of the bills that are scheduled for legislative hearings next week:

Career Technical Education

AB 3 (Fuentes) Energy & Renewable Energy Workforce Readiness Program

This bill would require the commission, by January 1, 2011, to establish a Renewable Energy Workforce Readiness Program to ensure green collar career placement and advancement opportunities within California's renewable energy manufacturing, construction, installation, maintenance...

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Rep. Honda Introduces Bill to Create National Commission to Study Education Disparities

By Jeff Hudson - April 3, 2009

Congressman Mike Honda (D-Campbell) has reintroduced legislation to create a national commission charged with gathering public opinions and insights about how government can improve education and eliminate disparities in the educational system.

The commission would be comprised of parents, teachers and experts on equity, civil rights, education policy, school finance, economic and taxation...

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Bills On the Move

By Cathy Bui - April 3, 2009

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Accountability & Assessment

AB 72 (Duvall) Pupil Data

This bill would require the StateChief Information Officer to manage the data of local educational agencies through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).  The bill would authorize local educational agencies to share data with each other through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System...

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Treasurer, Finance Director Say Federal Stimulus Aid Won't Head Off New State Taxes, Program Cuts

By Jeff Hudson - March 27, 2009

California state government got another dose of bad news on Friday morning, with developments that will likely result in higher taxes, further cuts to social services, and perhaps a reconsideration of the state's 2009-10 budget.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Department of Finance director Mike Genest announced that the state stands to receive $8.17 billion in federal stimulus funds toward the state's general fund – about $1.8 billion short of the $10 billion that would be needed (under the terms of the recent state budget compromise) to avoid implementation of $2.8 billion...

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Recently Introduced Bills

By Cathy Bui - March 27, 2009

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Curriculum & Instruction

AB 97 (Torlakson) School Curriculum & Content Standards

This bill would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an Academic Content and Performance Standards Review Panel for each of the curriculum area content standards adopted by the state board.  Teachers appointed to the panels would be required to meet specified requirements, and in choosing members for the panels...

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LAO's Ideas for Federal Stimulus Dollars Trigger Intense Debate, Questions

By Vernon M. Billy - March 20, 2009

In a rare joint hearing between the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education and the Education Committee, legislators received testimony from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Department of Finance (DOF) about the status and potential uses of the federal stimulus dollars.

While the bulk of the joint hearing was informational and non-controversial, the LAO's suggestions to use federal education stimulus dollars instead of state General Fund for various purposes raised eyebrows...

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Superintendent Severance Deals Could Be Limited Under Newly Introduced Legislation

By Jeff Hudson - March 20, 2009

Two proposed bills would put limits and restrictions on the contracts between California school districts and superintendents.

Senate Bill 307, introduced by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose), would require the governing board of a school district to include the following provisions in any contract for the services of a district superintendent:

    1. The district shall not provide any compensation to the superintendent after the expiration of the term of the contract; ...

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Recently Introduced Bills

By Cathy Bui - March 20, 2009

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AB 717 (Cook) Public School Instruction & Social Science: World War II Filipinos

This bill would encourage instruction in social science for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, to include instruction on World War II and the role of Filipinos in that war.

AB 836 (Torlakson) Task Force for Education Technology

This bill would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish a task force for education technology...

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LAO Says State's Economy Still Deteriorating, New State Budget Already Needs $8 Billion Fix

By Jeff Hudson - March 17 2009

It's been less than a month since the Legislature and the Governor finally worked out a compromise budget plan to address a nearly $42 billion budget shortfall.

And according to the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), during that brief time California's economy has faded to the point that state government is facing an additional multi-billion-dollar budget problem.

That was the not-so-encouraging word from Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, who released his analysis of the 2009-2010 budget deal last Friday...

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Federal Stimulus Timeline for 2009-2010

By Jeff Hudson - March 13, 2009

Here’s a timeline of expected implementation of the American Recover and Reinvestment Act (known in common parlance as the “federal stimulus” package):

By the end of March 2009

    1. Applications for the initial 65 percent of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) will be available.
    2. Fifty percent of the $10 billion in Title I, Part A recovery funds will be available...

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Recently Introduced Bills

By Cathy Bui - March 13, 2009

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AB 533 (Hayashi) Training for High School Coaches

This bill, commencing December 31, 2010, would require each high school sports coach to complete a coaching education program that includes training in recognizing and managing the signs and symptoms of potentially catastrophic injuries, including but not limited to: head and neck injuries, concussions, second impact syndrome, asthma attacks, heatstroke, and cardiac arrest; emergency action planning;...

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Implementation Timeline

By Jeff Hudson - March 13, 2009

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), ESEA Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B will be available in two phases.  Funds from these programs are to be delivered by formula from the US Department of Education to the State...

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Federal Stimulus Funds to Reach California Soon

By Jeff Hudson - March 10, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said on Monday that he’s hopeful that California will receive “the first pot of money” from the federal stimulus package “in the next 40 days.”

O’Connell said that in terms of education, that the first installment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will include over $500 million in money for Title I programs (representing 50 percent of the $1.28 billion that California will receive) as well as over $500 million in money for IDEA grants...

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CTA Urges End to STAR testing for 2nd Graders, Drops Proposed Sales Tax Proposition

By Jeff Hudson - March 6, 2009

The California Teachers Association – which isn't shy about aiming political messages directly at legislators or the general public when education issues are on the line – made several moves on the political chessboard in the state capitol during the last few days.

Last Friday, the CTA and State Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) announced introduction of legislation that would exempt California second-graders from the state’s annual STAR testing (Standardized Testing and Reporting) system...

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Newly Introduced Bills

By Cathy Bui - March 6, 2009

bills on the move.JPGSome of the more interesting bills that have been introduced by the February 27th deadline include:

AB 36 (Furutani) Public Education & Readiness Year Program

This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to develop a readiness year program in the public education system that provides basic skills training for individuals entering or reentering an academic institution...

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Governor Appoints Belisle, Angelis to SBE

By Jeff Hudson - March 6, 2009

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently announced two appointments to California's State Board of Education (SBE).

Raneene  (Rae) Belisle, who has been the president and chief executive officer for EdVoice since 2008, was appointed to the SBE.  During 2007-2008, she was a special assistant to the Director of Finance.  From 2004 to 2007, Belisle served as the General Counsel for the Sacramento County Office of Education. Previously she served as Executive Director of the California State Board of Education; Associate General Counsel...

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O'Connell Predicts "Record Layoffs" Due to "Unacceptable" Budget Cuts for Education

By Jeff Hudson - March 6, 2009

In an effort to focus public attention on teacher layoffs and budget cuts for education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and representatives of four major education groups held a news conference on Wednesday.

O'Connell picked up on the "Pink Friday" theme that the California Teachers Association has been stressing of late. He predicted "a record number of layoffs" will be announced by March 13, which is the state mandated deadline for notifying teachers that they might not have jobs come fall...

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Constitutional Convention Gathers Momentum

By Jeff Hudson - February 27, 2009

A curious assortment of elected officials, think-tank-based policy wonks, frustrated business leaders and government reformers gathered on Tuesday at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento for a self-styled “California Constitutional Convention Summit,” to contemplate the possibility of a dramatic overhaul of state government.

Motivated in large part by legislative gridlock in Sacramento, and the deteriorating condition of the state’s finances, highway system, and public schools and universities...

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Newly Introduced Bills

By Cathy Bui - February 27, 2009

bills on the move.JPG To date, some of the more interesting bills that have been introduced include:

AB 35 (Furutani) Education & Workforce Preparation

This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to develop a strategic plan for the education system regarding workforce preparation.

AB 132 (Mendoza) School Safety & Immigration Investigation

This bill would require that school safety plans include procedures to address immigration investigations...

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Governor Appoints Kathryn Radtkey-Gaither As Education Undersecretary

By Jeff Hudson - February 27, 2009

Kathryn Radtkey-Gaither has been named as California’s Undersecretary of Education by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Glen Thomas, recently appointed as Secretary of Education, complimented the Governor on his appointment of Gaither.

Thomas said “She brings extensive education finance and policy experience to the team.  Kathy will be a tremendous asset to the education community during these tough fiscal times.”...

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Budget Compromise Finally Approved – Campaign Starts For May Special Election

By Jeff Hudson - February 20, 2009

The California Legislature finally passed the Budget “Correction” Package around dawn on Thursday – and attention immediately shifted to the upcoming May 19 special election, which will include several ballot propositions that voters must approve if the budget compromise is to work.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a Thursday noon press conference, sounded like he was already in campaign mode.  The Governor thanked legislators of both parties who had voted for the bill, saying their “action to solve the $42 billion deficit was difficult but courageous,”...

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Federal Education Stimulus Fact Sheets

By Vernon Billy - February 20, 2009

Over the last few weeks, State policymakers and educators have been eagerly waiting for Congress to approve a federal stimulus package.   Congress finally acted and approved the more than $700 billion package last week.  In effort to ensure EdBrief subscribers have access to quality information about the education sections of the stimulus bill, we have posted several Fact Sheets from the Chair of the Committee on Education & Labor, California Congressman George Miller.  We encourage you to take a minute to review these brief summaries...

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2009-10 Education Bills Introduced

By Cathy Bui - February 19, 2009

With the February 27, 2009 legislative bill introduction deadline around the corner, EdBrief will continue to provide our subscribers with brief summaries of all the key education-related proposals introduced in the legislature.  As bills make their way through the legislative process, we will include updated information about these bills and their status.

To date, some of the more interesting bills that have been introduced include...

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Two-Thirds Budget Vote Requirement Targeted, Petitions Submitted to Sec. of State

By Cathy Bui - February 18, 2009

On the heels of the recently passed state budget, two new budget-related initiatives where approved by the Secretary of State Office to begin the signature gathering process.  The two measures will require approximately 694,354 signatures from registered voters.

The proponents have until July 20, 2009 to secure the required number of signatures for each of these measures to qualify for a statewide election.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the first measure is as follows...

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Legislature Tries For Budget Majority – Again

By Jeff Hudson - February 17, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative Democrats will try one more time on Tuesday, hoping to secure a majority big enough to pass a budget compromise in the California Senate.

Legislators spent most of the President’s Day weekend trying to convince one more Republican senator to vote in favor of the budget bill – and one more vote would be enough to give the proposed legislation enough votes to secure passage in the California Senate. (There are reportedly enough votes to get the package through the California Assembly)...

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"Breaking News" – This Story May be Updated As New Developments Emerge

$787 Billion Stimulus Bill Moves Closer to Obama's Desk

By Jeff Hudson - February 13, 2009

Having cleared the Senate on a 61-37 vote on Tuesday – including the critical support of three Republican senators – the federal stimulus bill went through conference committee on Wednesday, as Congressional negotiators quickly reached a compromise agreement reconciling the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

The conference version of the bill – a $787 billion package overall – went back to the House on Friday, where it was approved on a 246-183 vote. As was the case when the stimulus bill first cleared the house, no House Republicans voted in favor...

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$787 Billion Stimulus Bill Does Not Inlcude $16 Billion for School Construction

By Jeff Hudson - February 13, 2009

Having cleared the Senate on a 61-37 vote on Tuesday, the federal stimulus bill was sent to the President for his signature on Wednesday, as Congressional negotiators quickly reached a compromise agreement reconciling the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

The final deal – a $787 billion package overall – was something of a disappointment for educators. Despite intensive lobbying by local school districts and governors, the version of the bill sent to the President does not include the $16 billion in funding for K-12 school construction and modernization...

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O'Connell's State of Education 2009:

“Times Are Turbulent, With No Clear Skies Ahead”

By Jeff Hudson - February 6, 2009

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell delivered his annual “State of Education” address on Monday – and it was his bleakest assessment to date. Here are some highlights:

"Times are turbulent with no clear skies ahead. The national economic downturn and the budget shortfall facing our state are creating havoc in every one of California's schools and districts. Every teacher, every principal, and every superintendent I speak with wonders how we will make it through the next school year."...

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Details of Senate Stimulus Bill Emerging

By Jeff Hudson - January 30, 2009

Acknowledging that the federal stimulus bill is “evolving literally by the moment” as the legislation is being marked up in Senate committees, California Superintendent of Public Instruction offered a horseback assessment to school district administrators back home via a teleconference on Thursday afternoon.  O’Connell was literally on the road as the teleconference was held.

O’Connell said he’d spoken earlier in the day with Arne Duncan, the Obama Administration’s newly-sworn in Secretary of Education...

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Assembly, Senate Committee Chairs Named

By Vernon M. Billy - January 16, 2009

On Tuesday, Senate Pro Tempore, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced full committee assignments for the new legislative session.  Following his announcement, on Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-LA) announced the new chairs of Assembly committees.

In terms of education policy committees, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) – who was appointed last fall – will continue as the new chair of the Assembly Education Committee and Senator Gloria Romero (D-LA) will serve as the Senate Education chair...

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Governor's Office Proposes New Deferral, Cash flow Crunch for Schools Anticipated

By Vernon M. Billy - January 16, 2009

When the Governor released his 2009-10 proposed budget, he proposed another K-14 apportionment deferral.  And now, a few days later, a new deferral is being discussed by the Administration that would extend a one-time deferral included in the current year budget.

Similar to previous deferral proposals, this $2.5 billion deferral is intended to relieve the state of its cash flow problems.  The Administration's proposal captures almost all of the July 2009 K-14 apportionment and about 60 percent of the August 2009 K-12 apportionment and would push the release of these funds into October 2009...

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Governor Focuses on Budget Deadlock in Brief "State of the State" Address

By Jeff Hudson - January 16, 2009

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's "State of the State Address" on Thursday (Jan. 15) was the briefest in recent memory, lasting barely ten minutes.  The Governor focused on the ongoing negotiations addressing the enormous state budget deficit.  Many of the Governor's remarks seemed geared more toward reaching the public via airtime on the evening news than toward personally swaying the stance of the legislators gathered in the Assembly Chambers.

Schwarzenegger said that "our state is incapacitated until we resolve the budget crisis" and "the truth is that California is in a state of emergency."...

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Governor Releases 2009-10 Proposed Budget, Political Quagmire Intensifies

By Tahir Ahad and Vernon Billy - January 9, 2009

"I'll be back" is the Governor's well-known one liner from the movie Terminator.  Well, he's back participating in this real life, but surreal budget battle and he's once again proposing another budget that calls for major funding reductions, particularly in education.

To his credit the Governor's New Years Eve budget continues to utilize a balanced approach to patch together a budget that can get the state through a few more months without going completely over the proverbial cliff...

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State Board of Education Update: Don't Say 'Foreign Language,' Say 'World Language'

By Jeff Hudson - January 9, 2009

In marked contrast to November's meeting – which was highlighted by pointed criticism of the implementation of federal No Child Left Behind legislation – January's meeting of the State Board of Education (SBE) was a comparative walk in the sunshine.  Most of Wednesday’s votes were unanimous, relatively few critical remarks were heard, and the board members took time to publicly praise each other's work.

The SBE unanimously approved a set of World Language Content Standards – the first of their kind in the state...

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CTA Launches School Funding Initiative, $6 Billion for Schools Expected

By Jeff Hudson - January 2, 2009

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is proposing a ballot initiative - the Public School Investment and Accountability Act (PSIAA) - that would set up a one-cent sales tax increase to support schools.  The PSIAA will generate up to $6 billion annually to support class size reduction programs, buy textbooks and other curriculum, train teachers, hire counselors and librarians, and restore arts and career technical education programs, and support teacher salaries, but not school administrators...

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Court Rules on Algebra Mandate Controversy

By Jeff Hudson - December 19, 2008

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang favored the arguments made on Friday by the California School Boards Association (CSBA), Association of California School Administrators, and the California Teachers Association in a lawsuit against the State Board of Education.  In a tentative ruling, Judge Chang granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the State Board of Education (SBE) from implementing a three-year plan for mandatory testing of all California eighth-graders for Algebra 1, which the SBE approved in July...

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Democrats Pass $18 Billion Budget Package, Governor Says He'll Veto the Bills

By Jeff Hudson - December 18, 2008

The Democrats in the California legislature passed a package of budget bills on Thursday – and within hours, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he'll veto the legislation, saying it lacked the mortgage relief and economic stimulus proposals he'd asked for.

"I will not sign the bills that they will send down to me," Schwarzenegger said late Thursday afternoon.  "I was very disappointed.  I though we had negotiated a very balanced kind of a compromise...

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Judge Rules State Must Pay for Mandated Programs

By Jeff Hudson - December 12, 2008

In a ruling that could have far-reaching implications, a San Diego Superior Court Judge ruled this week that the state legislature's longstanding practice of deferring reimbursement to school districts for state-mandated programs is unconstitutional. Judge Charles R. Hayes prohibited the practice in the future.

In his decision, Hayes wrote "since 2001-2002, the state has been only nominally funding certain state-mandated programs and 'deferring' payment of the balance...

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State Treasurer, Controller, LAO and Finance Chiefs Warn of State Budget Catastrophe

By Jeff Hudson - December 12, 2008

The newly seated legislature got a lengthy description of the grim condition of California's finances, in an unusual session on Monday that featured presentations by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, Department of Finance Director Mike Genest, Controller John Chiang, and Treasurer Bill Lockyer speaking before a joint session of the Assembly and Senate...

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New Measures of Cultural Climate Available Online

By Cathy Bui - December 12, 2008

The preliminary findings of the California School Climate Survey (CSCS) are now available online.  The findings are from the first two years (2004-06) of data collected from 67,901 California school staff members on their perceptions of school climate at their school.  This is the largest set of data on staff perceptions of the teaching and learning environments at California public schools.  The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell also announced...

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Here We Go Again. . . New Players, Same Game, Same Rhetoric, Same Budget Crisis

By Vernon Billy - December 5, 2008

Earlier this week, the California Legislature opened its new legislative session and swore in thirty-nine new legislators.  While Monday was largely ceremonial – including the elections of the new Speaker and Senate Pro Tempore, and daylong receptions – the chronic budget deficit plaguing the state loomed over all the fanfare.

Governor Schwarzenegger, apparently wanting to impress upon the new legislators the seriousness of the state's fiscal situation...

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O'Connell Calls For More Funding to Support Free and Reduced Priced Meals for Students

By Cathy Bui - December 5, 2008

The currently rising demand for free and reduced priced lunches in schools is another example of how the economic downturn is causing many families in California to turn to schools to help feed their children.  As a result of rising demand, the State Superintendent of Instruction, Jack O'Connell (SPI) and the California Department of Education (CDE) are concerned that the Free and Reduced-Priced Meals program will most likely run out of state money for this fiscal year...

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LAO Recommends 14 Changes in Legislation

By Jeff Hudson - December 5, 2008

The Legislative Analyst's Office released a "recommended legislation" proposal this week, designed to help the state "operate more effectively and efficiently."  The proposal contains 14 points of interest to K-12 educators.

On the financial side, the LAO proposes to "consolidate K-12 base revenue limits with seven categorical funding streams" into one base grant, which "would reduce district paperwork, clarify district funding levels and ensure future...

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O'Connell, Education Leaders Rally Against Cuts

By Jeff Hudson - November 24, 2008

Many Californians are heading into vacation mode, rather than thinking about the state budget. In fact several school districts are taking the whole week off (and adding instructional days elsewhere in the school year), since the generally poor attendance during the three-days preceding Thanksgiving hurts their revenue-producing Average Daily Attendance figures.

But last Friday, with the awareness that the California legislature is in special session...

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LAO Calls for Less Spending, More Revenues

By Jeff Hudson - November 21, 2008

The California Legislative Analyst's Office released a Fiscal Outlook on Thursday, which restated many of the points made by LAO Mac Taylor in his Overview of Special Session Proposals on November 10th (See EdBrief Article: LAO Releases Analysis of Governor's Special Session Budget, and Offers "Alternatives"). The Fiscal Outlook's three-paragraph Summary says it all:

"The state's struggling economy has severely reduced expected revenues...

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CTA Joins Lawsuit to Block Algebra Mandate

By Jeff Hudson - November 21, 2008

Another big player – the California Teachers Association – has joined the lawsuit attempting to block the State Board of Education (SBE)'s new mandate to test all California eighth-graders for Algebra.

The SBE adopted the algebra mandate – on what critics have termed insufficient public notice – in July.  The California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) filed a lawsuit...

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LAO Releases Analysis of Governor's Special Session Budget, and Offers "Alternatives"

By Jeff Hudson - November 14, 2008

The California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) released an overview of the Governor's Special Session Proposals on Tuesday.  The 28-page document included LAO Mac Taylor’s "alternatives for additional budget solutions," including $1 billion in mid-year cuts for education now, and another $2 billion next year.

The first part of the report summarizes California's gloomy economic situation, with urgent bullet points that ring like a dire, tolling bell...

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Democrats Increase Seats in Legislature, But Voters Side with Governor on Redistricting

By Vernon Billy - November 7, 2008

Riding the "Democratic Tsunami" that swept the country, State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) was able to increase her party's membership with the election of two Democrats in what were formerly Republican seats.

Assembly Democrats now control 50 of the 80 seats in the State Assembly, and are only four seats shy of having enough votes to pass a budget without Republican support...

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Governor Proposes $2.5 Billion in Education Cuts, Legislature Will Negotiate Reductions

By Vernon Billy - November 7, 2008

On Thursday, the Governor held a press conference to call for a Special Session of the Legislature and to announce his proposal to solve the estimated $11.2 billion current-year budget shortfall.

The Governor proposes $4.5 billion in cuts and $4.4 billion in new revenues for the current-year budget.  Under the Governor's proposal, education funding would be cut by $2.5 billion, including $332 million in community college reductions...

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CSBA, ACSA obtain restraining order, blocking SBE action on Algebra mandate

By Jeff Hudson - October 31, 2008

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) won a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, preventing the State Board of Education (SBE) from proceeding with plans to implement mandatory algebra testing for all eighth-grade students.

The matter began on July 9, when the SBE moved swiftly to adopt the new algebra testing requirement, over the objections of State Superintendent...

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Meetings Underway to Hammer Out Details for Federal Title 1—Program Improvement

By Aimee Scribner - October 24, 2008

A select group of legislative staffers and education advocates came together on October 22 to discuss options for the Federal Title 1 Program Improvement funds.

The main question is, how should California best use this money?  Should it be one-time funds used for a one-time purpose, or ongoing funds for ongoing purposes?...

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Curriculum Bills Vetoed as Governor Pushes to Maintain Strength of State Board

By Aimee Scribner - October 10, 2008

Many legislators authored bills in 2008 that would have altered California’s current content standards and curriculum frameworks.  Many of these bills also attempted to change the State Board of Education’s (SBE) authority over this area of public school policy.

Interestingly enough, every bill that we included in our recent piece, Get Ready for More Mandated Curriculum (Sept. 5, 2008), made it all the way to the Governor’s desk – and then met its demise...

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Which Education Bills Made the Cut? (Part III)

By Cathy Bui - October 3, 2008

This week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finished vetoing over 35 percent of the bills on his desk.  It appears that Schwarzenegger now holds the record in terms of number of bills rejected.  Here’s a rundown of several education-related bills that were vetoed by the Governor...

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Which Education Bills Made the Cut? (Part II)

By Cathy Bui - October 3, 2008

The deadline for the Governor to sign – or veto – the bills passed by the legislature was Tuesday, September 30th.  To keep you up-to-date on which bills made the cut, this article is part two of the bill update and includes the key bills that were signed into law by the Governor.

The third part to this article includes all of the key bills that were vetoed by the Governor...

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Which Education Bills Made the Cut? (Part I)

By Cathy Bui - September 30, 2008

After the recent enactment of the 2008-09 budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger began determining the fate of over 850 bills waiting on his desk.  Today is the deadline for the Governor to sign – or veto – the bills passed by the legislature.  Starting with this update, we will provide you with a summary of some of the bills signed or vetoed by the Governor.

Here is a summary of several bills vetoed by the Governor since this past Sunday...

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Nationwide Enrollment in Algebra 1 Rises, While Misplaced Students Struggle

By Aimee Scribner - September 26, 2008

The Brookings Institute’s Brown Center on Education released a study this week indicating that while more students than ever may be taking algebra in eighth grade, they aren’t necessarily learning more.

The new study finds that the nation’s push to challenge students by placing them in advanced math classes in eighth grade has yielded some unintended consequences, as some 120,000 middle-schoolers are now struggling in advanced classes for which they are unprepared...

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Governor Signs Budget – 85 Days Late

By Vernon Billy - September 23, 2008

After a record-setting 85 days, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the 2008-09 budget.

This shaky $103.4 billion budget is held together by a combination of cuts, gimmicky revenue generating proposals and a prayer that voters will pass a ballot measure to modernize the Lottery and securitize Lottery revenue in order to generate $5 billion in 2009-10.

According to the Governor, this budget holds State General Fund spending fairly level from 2007-08 to 2008-09, with a modest $100 million increase...

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Budget A Done Deal...

By Vernon Billy - September 19, 2008

After several days of high political drama around a potential veto of the state budget, state leaders now appear to have reached a budget agreement that will bring this record-setting budget battle to a close…at least for now.

On Wednesday and Thursday, legislative leaders met with the Governor in order to resolve his concerns surrounding the provisions in the Rainy Day fund included in the budget as well as the proposal to accelerate tax receipt collections...

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Governor Confirms He Will Veto "House of Cards" Budget Approved by Legislature

By Vernon Billy - September 16, 2008

As the day began, we knew many of our readers would be clamoring for information about the budget passed by the legislature at 2:30 a.m. this morning.

However, we thought it would be best for our subscribers if we all took a breath, examined any additional budget details, and tried to assess the political drama unfolding between the Governor and the legislature over his threat to veto the entire budget...

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Budget Deal Reached – Details a Little Murky

By Vernon Billy - September 15, 2008

The old saying “better late than never” seemed appropriate as legislative leaders announced Sunday that they have reached a budget deal.

Seventy-six days after the start of the new fiscal year, the four legislative leaders announced the outline of their agreement.  Both sides acknowledged that they did not get everything that they wanted, but the deal represents a compromise that should end the stalemate.

Republicans won by preventing the Democrats from implementing new taxes on personal income...

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State Board of Education Meeting Summary

By Jeff Hudson, Cathy Bui, and Theresa Garcia - September 12, 2008

The State Board of Education meeting this month brought out quite a few interested parties. 

The issue generating the most attention and buzz was the board’s decision in July to require the Algebra 1 test of all eighth-graders, and the recent lawsuit by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) against the State Board of Education because of that decision...

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David Long Steps Down as Secretary of Education

By Jeff Hudson - September 12, 2008

David Long, California’s Secretary of Education since March 2007, has resigned.

Long wrote a letter of resignation to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dated Wednesday, and the news became public late Thursday afternoon.

In his three-paragraph letter, Long said “After much contemplation and reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to move on to another chapter in my life...

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Rumors Abound – The Senate May Vote on the Governor's August Compromise Budget

By Vernon Billy - September 12, 2008

As we reported earlier this week, the state Senate rejected the Republican budget proposal.

And as we predicted, the Governor’s August compromise budget was handily defeated in the Assembly the next day.

These actions, along with the fiery debate that accompanied them, left many wondering how – and when – the budget situation would be resolved.

Fast forward just a few days, and rumors were floating throughout the Capitol that the Senate would take up and possibly approve a similar version...

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Where Are They Now.....

A Status Report of Key Bills Still Alive in the Legislature

By Aimee Scribner - September 12, 2008

While California’s schools struggle to make time in their day to cover all that is required in the state curriculum frameworks, legislators continue to approve bills that require or encourage schools to teach additional subject matter.

Many of these bills deal with the contributions of minorities to the State of California or the nation.  The following bills were approved by the legislature and, if signed by the Governor, will change our state’s current frameworks and curriculum in the following ways...

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One Step Back, A Few Steps Forward for School Nutrition Programs

By Cathy Bui - September 12, 2008

This week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced the launch of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).  CNIPS is a new Web-based system for local sponsors of federal food programs to more easily submit and track the status of their applications, claims, and commodity requests to the California Department of Education (CDE).

When this site is completely finished, local education agencies (LEAs) and local programs sponsors should expect to have the ability to manage state and federal nutrition programs...

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Senate Democrats Reject Republican Budget Plan

By Vernon Billy - September 9, 2008

Late Monday, the Senate Democrats predictably rejected the Republican budget plan contained in AB 1793.  The Republican plan calls for $1.6 billion in more cuts than the Governor’s August Compromise Budget, borrows against the Lottery, shifts $340 million from local redevelopment agencies and makes numerous reductions to health and welfare programs.

The Republicans garnered only 13 votes in support (all Republican) of their proposal which fell dramatically short of the 27 votes needed to pass the Senate...

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Budget Impasse Enters Uncharted Territory

By Vernon Billy - September 5, 2008

With the end of the first week in September, the state’s budget stalemate surpassed all previous budget impasses, and entered uncharted waters.

Entering this new territory brought additional partisan attacks, the release of a Republican budget proposal, and more public pronouncements by the Governor calling on the legislature to pass a budget.

Responding to repeated criticisms from their Democratic colleagues and the press, Republican leaders finally introduced a budget proposal that outlines their solutions to solving the state’s budget crisis...

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Legislature Approves Bills to Expand Instructional Topics

By Aimee Scribner - September 5, 2008

While California’s schools struggle to make time in their day to cover all that is required in the state curriculum frameworks, legislators continue to approve bills that require or encourage schools to teach additional subject matter.

Many of these bills deal with the contributions of minorities to the State of California or the nation.  The following bills were approved by the legislature and, if signed by the Governor, will change our state’s current frameworks and curriculum in the following ways....

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O’Connell Releases 2008 API and AYP – Divergent Results Persist

By Jeff Hudson - September 5, 2008

On Thursday, the California Department of Education (CDE) publicly released the 2008 Accountability Progress Report, consisting of the Academic Performance Index, along with Adequate Yearly Progress and Program Improvement information.

Somewhat paradoxically, the state’s API went up in several areas, even as a larger number of California schools encountered issues with Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation...

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The Algebra 1 Debate Continues, Focus Shifts To Supply of Math Teachers

By Aimee Scribner - September 1, 2008

Over the past three months, we have been informing you of the debate surrounding the newly adopted Algebra 1 standard that requires 8th grade students to attain proficiency in Algebra 1 (See EdBrief Issues 30, 32, and 37).

While much of the debate around this issue has centered on whether Algebra 1 is an appropriate standard for 8th grade math, not much of the discussion has focused on who will teach these courses in schools...

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New General Science Credential Approved To Ease Shortage Of Middle School Science Teachers

By Aimee Scribner - September 1, 2008

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) announced recently the approval of a Foundation-Level General Science Credential, to ease the shortage of science teachers qualified to teach in California middle schools.   The new General Science Credential authorizes instruction in general, introductory, and integrated science, K-8 grades.

This new science credential responds to a recent analysis of teacher misassignment by the CTC which revealed that 20 percent of all science teachers are underprepared to teach science in California classrooms...

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