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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.

Here is a partial rundown of how several different groups assess the situation.

ACSA

The Association of California School Administrators posted a scorecard noting that as often as not, the Governor went against ACSA’s recommendations regarding various bills. Among the bills mentioned on ACSA’s scorecard:

AB 47 (Huffman) Open Enrollment Act Reforms
ACSA Sponsored (Vetoed)

AB 124 (Fuentes) Support for English Learners
ACSA Co-Sponsored (Signed)

AB 165 (Lara) Pupil Fees
ACSA Disapproved (Vetoed)

AB 501 (Campos) Public School Employment
ACSA Opposed(Signed)

AB 1155 (Alejo) Workers' Compensation
ACSA Opposed(Vetoed)

SB 140 (Lowenthal) Instructional Materials
ACSA Sponsored (Signed)

SB 547 (Steinberg) Public School Performance Accountability
ACSA Supported (Vetoed)

SB 857 (Lieu) Unlawful Strike Damages
ACSA Opposed(Signed)

ACSA also posted a lengthy, detailed analysis of the Governor’s actions, click here to read it.

CSBA

The California School Boards Association told members that “Gov. Jerry Brown handed public schools a mixed bag in his actions following the close of the 2011-12 legislative session’s first year. He signed several measures CSBA supported, such as Assembly bills 790 and 1330, both dealing with career and technical education, and AB 124’s clarification of proficiency assessment policy for English learners. However, he vetoed Senate Bill 547 — a measure CSBA supported that would have replaced California’s Academic Performance Index with a broader Education Quality Index — and he signed SB 857, a bill dealing with public employee unions that CSBA strongly opposed.”

“SB 857 would allow unions to abuse the right to strike as they would face no threat of financial damages,” CSBA wrote in its opposition letter to Brown.

CSBA also noted that “Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of Assembly Bill 165, which would have established an administrative process for filing and remedying student or parent allegations of unlawfully charged fees, leaves current law in place and does not change which fees are allowed.” CSBA recommended that “School districts should review their policies and ensure that they are implemented consistently across the district; any solicitations for funds or property must clearly state that they are voluntary donations.”

California State PTA

The California State PTA hailed Gov. Brown’s decision to sign AB 1156, saying “Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill intended to protect students from bullying and harassment. The California State PTA sponsored the bill, AB 1156, by Assembly Member Mike Eng.

“In signing this legislation sponsored by the PTA, the Governor lays the groundwork for making our schools safer for students and teachers. This is a real achievement for all the children and families of California,” said California State PTA President Carol Cocivar.

“The California State PTA commends the Governor for signing this legislation, and we thank our nearly 1 million members who made their voices heard by writing letters and taking other action to support this bill,” Cocivar said.

The California State PTA has also partnered with Common Sense Media for a new education campaign to combat cyberbullying. Called "Stand up, Don't Stand By," the campaign has launched with a new "Cyberbullying Toolkit" online that includes parent tip sheets, a parent education video and other resources at www.commonsense.org/pta. Common Sense Media is a national nonprofit organization.

CTA

The California Teachers Association issued a statement supporting one decision by the Governor, while criticizing another. CTA president Dean Vogel said “CTA applauds the signing of Senate Bill 202 (Elections, Ballot Measures), which moves all voting on initiatives to the general election in November to ensure that the greatest number of Californians participate.”

Many political observers feel that general elections in November, which tend to draw a higher degree of voter participation, are a more favorable environment for ballot issues that tend to rely on Democratic party support, as compared with elections held at other times of the year, when voter turnout tends to be lower.

But in his statement, Vogel expressed regret regarding another one of Brown’s decisions, saying, “We are disappointed that the governor signed SB 161 (Diastat), legislation that will charge non-medical professional ‘volunteers’ with the invasive administration of a potentially risky seizure drug in a school setting. SB 161 was not the answer to the medical needs of California students.”

Source:  ACSA, CSBA, California State PTA, CTA, EdBrief staff.