Proposed California Law Would Outlaw Classroom Dissections

By Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee - Rep: May 7, 2019

Dissecting frogs and cats – a common assignment for kids in California biology classes – could soon be a thing of the past.

A bill from Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, would prohibit animal dissections in K-12 schools, both public and private.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a sponsor of the bill. The animal rights organization has documented methods used by companies that supply schools with birds, cats and amphibians for classroom dissections. PETA argues the practice is “miserably cruel.”...

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Proposed Legislation to Limit Number of California Charter Schools Sparks Heated Debate Among Parents, Educators

By Scott Rodd, Capital Public Radio News - April 19, 2019

Parents and educators converged on California’s Capitol on April 17 to debate a legislative package that would impose a statewide cap on the number of charter schools, and new oversight rules.

Supporters say charter-school laws have not been revised since they were first introduced more than 25 years ago. The legislation would establish a limit on charter schools in California, based on how many the state has by 2020. It would also grant local school districts sole authority to approve new charter schools and block them from operating outside of said district. The proposed legislative package limiting charter schools is being supported by the California Teachers Union, among other groups, calling for more accountability and oversight of charter schools...

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Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Lawsuit Challenging Federal Reversal of Nutrition Standards in Schools

April 19, 2019

On April 3, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a multistate lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s reversal of school meal nutrition standards that protect the health and well-being of students around the country. In the complaint, the coalition argues the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision failed to rely on any analysis of the relevant science and ignored existing federal dietary guidelines. In addition, USDA violated notification requirements mandated under the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

“Once again, the Trump Administration has shown its disregard for good governance and the facts,” said Attorney General Becerra“That’s why we’re stepping in to protect the long-term health and well-being of our students and children throughout the country. A healthy diet is important for all Americans, but it is especially important for the development of our youth.”...

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Harris' Plan to Raise Teacher Pay is Good Policy, Great Politics

By David A. Love - April 4, 2019

Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris has a bold plan to increase pay for teachers. The California senator's recent $315 billion, 10-year proposal is a timely and sensible policy for a nation that must commit more resources to public school teachers and address inequality in US education. However, Harris' plan also makes for an astute political strategy for the presidential contender, allowing her to make inroads among core Democratic constituents who represent the energy and direction of the party heading into 2020.

The proposal amounts to an average of $13,500 or a 23% increase in salary for each teacher. The federal government would pay the first 10% to states to fill the teacher pay gap, then invest $3 for every $1 the states contribute. The Harris plan would also invest billions in evidence-based programs to boost teacher development, with half of the funds going to historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions, who, research shows, produce 30% of black teachers, and 40% of Latinx teachers...

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Assembly Education Committee Advances “Safe and Supportive Schools” Bill, Supported by LGBTQ Groups

April 4, 2019

On March 29, the California Assembly Education Committee voted 5-0 to pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act of 2019 (AB 493), legislation that would provide California public schools will provide California public schools with resources to give teachers and staff the tools and training they need to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students. Committee Vice Chair Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) did not cast a vote. AB 493 is authored by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“Despite an overwhelming amount of harassment, many LGBTQ students do not report their troubles to school staff because they question whether or not effective intervention will occur,” said Assemblymember Gloria. “All students should feel safe, accepted, included, and supported in their school...

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ACLU: Schools Need More Mental Health Professionals, Not Police

By Amir Vera, CNN - March 23, 2019

Public schools need more mental health professionals and fewer police, according to a recently released report by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The report found that nearly one-third of public school students, more than 14 million, are enrolled in schools with police but without a counselor, nurse, psychologist or social worker. The shift in resources comes as schools reassess their security measures in the wake of repeated school shootings and as local, state and federal governments make more money available to fund officers on campuses...

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Proposed State Constitutional Amendment Would Make It Easier to Approve School Parcel Taxes

By Jorge Casuso - March 23, 2019

A ballot measure sponsored by Santa Monica Senator Ben Allen that would lower the threshold for approval of parcel taxes is awaiting referral to a committee, his office said on March 18.

Introduced in December, Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 would dramatically improve the chances for school parcel taxes to be approved by lowering the threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent of the vote...

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Newsom Signs Long-Discussed Charter School Transparency Legislation

March 9, 2019

Alongside representatives from the California Charter Schools Association, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Boards Association, Association of California School Administrators and SEIU California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 126 on March 5 -- historic legislation requiring all schools that receive taxpayer funding to follow the same standards for accountability and transparency.

“It’s common sense. Taxpayers, parents and ultimately kids deserve to know how schools are using their tax dollars,” said Governor Newsom. “This isn’t the end of a conversation but a beginning. Let’s use this momentum to move forward together, constructively and in partnership, to improve education for children across California. I thank the leaders on both sides of this issue for coming together to help get this bill across the finish line.”...

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Proposed Legislation Encourages Climate-Friendly, Plant-Based Lunch Options for Students

March 9, 2019

California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) has introduced legislation incentivizing K-12 public schools across the state to offer healthier, climate-friendly lunch options. Under AB 479, the Healthy Climate-Friendly School Lunch Act, schools would receive additional state funding for serving a plant-based entrée and plant-based milk. The bill is co-sponsored by Animal Hope in Legislation, Friends of the Earth, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Social Compassion in Legislation.

AB 479 also includes critical state support for staff training, student engagement, recipe development, and other technical assistance needed to help public schools boost participation rates and successfully serve plant-based foods...

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Attorney General Opinion Confirms Charter Schools Must Comply with Key Public Integrity Laws

January 12, 2019

The California Attorney General recently issued an opinion (Opinion No. 11-201) addressing the long-debated question of whether California charter schools must comply with key public integrity laws, including the Ralph M. Brown Act, California Public Records Act, and laws prohibiting financial and other conflicts of interest under Government Code section 1090 and the Political Reform Act of 1974. The Attorney General confirmed that charter schools and their governing bodies are subject to these laws-just like public school districts and county offices of education...

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Pregnant and Parenting Pupils Afforded New Accommodations Beginning January 1, 2019

January 12, 2019

Beginning January 1, 2019, significant amendments to the Education Code provide pregnant and parenting pupils with new rights and accommodations designed to afford them the opportunity to succeed while protecting their health and the health of their children.

In 2015, over 24,000 children were born to individuals between the ages of 15 and 19 in California. Fewer than 4 in 10 young mothers graduate from high school by the age of 18, and 70 percent of young parents nationwide are "pushed out of school." Assembly Bill (AB) 2289 works to allay some of these obstacles...

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