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Legislation Would Strengthen School Climates and Provide Safe Learning Environments

April 21, 2018

Legislation by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) that is intended to help school districts improve school climate is advancing through the California Legislature.

AB 2820 was introduced earlier this year by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). The bill sets up a “Community Engagement and School Climate for Continuous Improvement Block Grant.” This fund would provide school districts, at no cost, the option of using state-vetted school climate surveys, along with support and technical assistance on the administration of the surveys and utilization of results to improve school conditions and climate. If districts choose to use the surveys, they would be conducted annually with students, parents, teachers, and school staff.

The proposed legislation comes after recommendations by the School Conditions and Climate Work Group, a task force convened by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson and the California Department of Education, which included educators, parents and advocates. One member who played a key role was Taryn Ishida, Executive Director of Californians for Justice.

"Too often we see students, especially low-income students of color, struggling to feel like they belong, are cared for, and supported in reaching their full potential,” Ishida said. “Research shows we can address these challenges and improve student achievement by investing in school climate surveys and community engagement. These are crucial steps to creating a positive and equitable learning experience for all students."

On April 10, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his support today for legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe and inclusive learning environments for students and increase engagement with parents and their respective communities.

Torlakson appeared at a news conference on Tuesday with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill. “Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments. Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers,” Torlakson said. “In light of recent events at schools across our country, supporting districts in hearing their students’ voices and improving engagement with parents and communities is more vital than ever.”

More information may be found on the CDE School Conditions and Climate Work Group Recommendations Framework.

Source: California Department of Education, EdBrief staff

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