Seven education bills await action by Gov. Brown
Craig Clough | September 17, 2014
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Seven education bills are currently awaiting the signature or veto of Gov. Jerry Brown – and before too many more stack up, we thought a review was in order.
For more check out Edsource’s EdTracker, a tool that follows the ins and outs of education legislation in Sacramento.
“Willful defiance” bill
AB 420 would limit the authority of a superintendent of a school district and a principal to suspend or expel a student for the act of “willful defiance.” It is meant to curb the number of suspensions and expulsions in the state for what critics say is a vaguely-defined infraction.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is the bill’s sponsor and says the “willful defiance” infraction “disproportionately affects students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities,” according to the group’s website. Brown vetoed an earlier version of the bill, saying, “I cannot support limiting the authority of local school leaders,” according to the Sacramento Bee.
If passed, the bill would be a moot point for LA Unified, which in 2013 became the first school district in the state to ban defiance as grounds for suspension, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Bill to mandate kindergarten attendance
AB 1444 would make kindergarten attendance mandatory in the state. Currently, kindergarten is optional, but students starting in the 2016-17 school year must have completed one year of kindergarten before entering first grade if the bill becomes law. The bill is sponsored by the California Teacher’s Association (CTA).
A posting on the CTA’s website states: “CTA believes in providing students with a quality education that begins the very moment they get to our schools. Making kindergarten mandatory is critical so that all children can be better prepared for career or college by the 12th grade.”
Other groups, such as the Private & Home Educators of California, oppose the bill, saying it takes away a level of parental rights. A posting on the group’s website states: “Advocates of extending government control of all children from birth will be able to use passage of AB 1444 as an incremental step toward establishing seamless, cradle-to-grave government-controlled education and development programs.”
Bill to create 4-year degrees for community colleges
SB 850 would create a pilot program allowing some California community colleges to offer 4-year bachelor’s degrees not offered by the University of California or California State University. California’s community colleges can currently offer only certificates, diplomas and two-year associate’s degrees, according to the Daily Californian.
Supporters say the bill would help create more jobs, while SB 850 has been criticized for disrupting California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, according to the Daily Californian.
Bill Supporting multilingual education
SB 1174 would put a measure on the November 2016 ballot to repeal Proposition 227, the 1998 law requiring English-only instruction in California schools.
Under the proposed law, parents will have more power to decide which languages should be used to instruct their children, but the part of the law that ensures student access to adequate English instruction would remain, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The bill’s author, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles), said SB 1174 would encourage multilingualism, bilingualism and language immersion programs, according to the LA Times, while Senate Republican leader Bob Huff called the bill “an end run around the vote of the people.”
Bill to address absenteeism
AB 1866 is part of a package of five attendance-related bills crafted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris to address the problem of absenteeism. Harris recently appeared at LA Unified’s Malabar Elementary School to highlight a report on truancy released by her office that found a high correlation between attendance problems and both income and race.
AB 1866 would require the state student data system, known as CALPADS, to add reports on chronic absenteeism. It has received a lot of vocal support from many legislators, according to the Sierra Sun Times, but may face a veto from Brown because it is not in line with the Brown administration’s view of how CALPADS should be used, EdSource reported.
Bill to mandate child abuse training
AB 1432 is intended to strengthen training in schools to help teachers and administrators recognize child abuse. The legislation would require all school employees to be trained according to standards developed by the Department of Education. Current law does not require school districts to train employees on detecting or reporting child abuse, according to the bill.
The bill has received broad support on both sides of the aisle and is supported by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, according to CaliforniaNewsWire.com.
“California law needs to make sure that school administrators at all levels of education report these most serious crimes and empower our law-enforcement experts to investigate,” said the bill’s author, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), according to CaliforniaNewsWire.com.
Bill to improve after-school programs
SB 1221 would update the standards for after-school programs, give extra funds for small rural programs and provide priority funding to year-round programs to help bring them more in line with new Common Core standards. The state is looking to after-school and summer programs to support the new emphasis on hands-on learning, critical thinking and communication skills, according to EdSource.org.
The bill is sponsored by the California Department of Education and the Partnership for Children & Youth, according to the California AfterSchool Network. It passed through both the Assembly and Senate with broad support and is also supported by Torlakson.