Policy & Finance > Legislation

Winners, losers as Brown takes action on education bills



(Updated Oct. 14) Gov. Jerry Brown acted on dozens of education bills by the Oct. 13 deadline for deciding legislation.

Most of them paled in importance compared to the Legislature’s monumental achievement of 2013, the Local Control Funding Formula, Brown’s sweeping school finance and accountability plan that legislators enacted as part of the state budget in June. Yet the Legislature and governor did face decisions on key bills this session.

Chief among them was a decision on what state standardized tests to discontinue this year, which to suspend and resume later, and which to continue. The proposed changes are in Assembly Bill 484, which Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, sponsored on behalf of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. An amended version passed both houses of the Legislature on Sept. 10 despite a last-minute threat from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to withhold some federal money if it becomes law as worded. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Oct. 1, also unfazed by the threat.

AB 484 suspends nearly all state standardized tests, starting next spring, including English language arts and math tests required by the federal government under the No Child Left Behind law for grades 3 through 8 and 11. Those districts with the capability of administering tests by computer instead would offer a field or practice test on the Common Core standards that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is developing for California and two dozen other states. The formal Smarter Balanced tests would start a year later, in spring 2015. Districts currently without technical capability would give no English language or math test next spring – one of Duncan’s objections.

AB 484 lays out the plan for replacing the other state tests with new ones, reflecting new standards in science, math and English and the need for more rigorous assessments that show a student’s ability to solve problems and think critically. The state Department of Education would present the plan to the Legislature by March 2016.

What follows is a status report on important bills that EdSource Today has been following. Use our interactive tracker to check the status of the bills and read on for a brief description of each. The list includes several bills that, for lack of agreement, will be pushed into next year.

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Assembly bills

AB 174 – Student health

  • AB 174, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would establish a pilot grant program to fund school-based mental health services and trauma treatment for Alameda County students affected by violence.
  • Why it’s important: Lack of access to mental health care is an issue for students affected by trauma and violence; AB 174 would bring services to traumatized youth in schools, a model that has proven to be effective.
  • Bill analysis.
  • Status: Passed Assembly and Senate. Vetoed by Governor.

AB 182 – School finance

  • AB 182, by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, would set strict limits and a maximum debt ratio on the use of capital appreciation bonds for school construction and renovation.
  • Why it’s important: Capital appreciation bonds defer repayment of interest and principal for 20 to 30 years, at which point property taxpayers incur interest charges amounting to nine or more times that of the principal; AB 182, pushed by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, would limit that ratio to 4:1.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

AB 256 – Student discipline

  • AB 256, by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, would allow schools to suspend or expel students for bullying by electronic means that originated on or off school grounds.
  • Why it’s important: For the first time, schools would be authorized to take disciplinary action against students who bully by electronic means at non-school events and while off campus.
  • Bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

AB 375 – Teacher evaluation

  • AB 375, by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, would expedite the process of dismissing a teacher by paring back evidence hearings and imposing a seven-month deadline for a decision by a three-member Commission on Professional Competence.
  • Why it’s important: Unions and districts agree that teacher dismissals, including for egregious conduct, can be lengthy and expensive. Last year, unions killed a proposed reform; this year, districts opposed Buchanan’s version. She’ll have another chance at a compromise in 2014.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Amendments that Buchanan negotiated with Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Carol Liu, permitting an extension beyond the seven-month deadline if a judge finds “good cause,” gave the bill a second life. However, Brown vetoed it Oct. 10.

AB 420 – Student discipline

  • AB 420, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would prohibit suspensions and expulsions for disruptive behavior – called willful defiance – in elementary school and allow suspensions and expulsions for disruptive behavior beyond grade 6 only after alternative forms of discipline have been tried.
  • Why it’s important: The use of the subjectively defined willful defiance as a means for discipline has become a flashpoint in debates about how to manage school environments. Data have shown that minority students are disproportionately punished for “willful defiance.” Proponents of willful defiance say they need flexibility to remove students from school if the behavior is unacceptable. This is a scaled-back version of a bill Brown vetoed last year.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Two-year bill after passing the Assembly and the Senate Education Committee; author may re-introduce in January.

AB 484 – Standardized testing

  • AB 484, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, on behalf of Superintendent Torlakson, would suspend most state standardized tests not required by the federal No Child Left Behind law, including high school end of course, social studies and Spanish language tests, in preparation for the new Common Core assessments in English language arts and math in spring 2015.
  • Why it’s important: The transition to Common Core standards and the new science standards offers an opportunity to redesign tests in other subjects and to decide which tests no longer are necessary for state accountability. However, there are disagreements over timing, costs and priorities.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

AB 955 – Community College Fees

  • AB 955, by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, establishes a pilot program that permits six community colleges to charge California students the nonresident tuition rate of about $200 per credit, up from $46, for courses offered during the summer and winter breaks that are over-enrolled during the regular school year.
  • Why it’s important: Supporters say so many students were blocked from attending community college during the recession when schools had to eliminate thousands of courses, that even money from Proposition 30 isn’t enough to restore the system to its pre-recession days. Opponents counter that the bill creates a two-tiered system of higher education – giving wealthy students an unfair advantage, and turning the mission of community colleges upside down.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

AB 1266 – Student health

  • AB 1266, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, gives transgender students the right to participate in school sports and use bathroom facilities that correspond with their expressed genders.
  • Why it’s important: “Transgender” refers to those who identify with a gender different than their sex. Transgender students often face severe bullying and abuse in schools, studies have shown. The bill allows transgender students to more fully participate in school life.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Passed Legislature, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

 

Senate bills

SB 5 – Teacher evaluation

  • SB 5, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, would eliminate the restriction that all multiple- and single-subject teacher credentialing programs squeeze all program requirements, including student teaching, into a one-year curriculum. The bill is consistent with recommendations of Torlakson’s Task Force on Educator Excellence.
  • Why it’s important: California is unique in jamming teacher prep courses and student teaching into one year. This bill, permitting an extra year of coursework for a preliminary teaching credential, will allow for more depth and spur creative alternatives.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by governor.

SB 173 – Adult education

  • SB 173, by Sen. Carol Liu, D-Glendale, would narrow the focus of adult education funded through K-12 districts to conform with changes Brown wrote into the state budget. The narrowed programs would favor English language and job and career preparation courses while eliminating parenting classes and recreational classes for older adults.
  • Why it’s important: Codifies proposed changes to adult education programs, typically operated by K-12 districts, which critics say are over-broad and redundant with other available programming; opponents of the bill say the classes are vital for the communities they serve and that older adult programs should be maintained as the population of senior citizens grows.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Turned into a two-year bill.

SB 201 – Common Core

  • SB 201, by Senator Carol Liu, D-Glendale, authorizes the State Board of Education to adopt instructional materials for grades K-8, aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts as well as in English language development, (for English learners), no later than Nov. 30, 2015. It also calls for a new test to determine English language proficiency.
  • Why it’s important: The State Board of Education adopted new Common Core standards for English language arts in 2010, and for English language development two years later, but has not yet approved basic instructional materials aligned to those standards. Up until now, the board has only authorized supplemental materials.
  • Bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed into law by the governor.

SB 247 – Standardized testing

  • SB 247, by Sen. Carol Liu, D-Glendale, would end the second grade California Standards Test in English language arts and math and turn it into an optional diagnostic test, aligned to Common Core, that districts will administer but the state will pay for.
  • Why it’s important: The new Common Core assessments will start at grade 3. This bill will allow state-funded district assessments to inform parents and teachers whether 2nd graders need interventions to read by 3rd grade, a critical predictor of success.
  • Previous coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

SB 284 – Cal Grants

  • SB 284, by Senator Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, is part of a two-bill package to increase the amount of money in the Cal Grant B program by creating a College Access Tax Credit Fund paid for through charitable donations.
  • Why it’s important: California would become the first state in the nation to establish what’s essentially a charitable fund to help low-income students attend college. For every dollar contributed, donors would be eligible for a 60 cent state tax credit and a 15 cent federal tax credit, while raising an estimated $500 million a year.
  • Bill Analysis.
  • Status: Vetoed by the governor.

 SB 285 – Cal Grants

  • SB 285, by De León, is the second piece of his two-bill package, which would raise Cal Grant B awards for low-income students from $1,473 a year to about $3,333 per year.
  • Why it’s important: The maximum Cal Grant B award is $1,473 a year, which is expected to help pay for all college expenses excluding tuition, as well as food, rent, transportation, books and other living expenses. The average annual income of the state’s 177,000 Cal Grant B recipients is $18,000.
  • Bill Analysis.
  • Status: Vetoed by the governor.

SB 300 – Science Standards

  • SB 300, by Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, requires the State Board of Education to consider adopting a revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for instructional materials aligned to the Next General Science Standards by Jan. 31, 2014, with strategies for addressing the needs of English learners and students with disabilities. It also extends the deadline for the state board to adopt revised curriculum frameworks and evaluation criteria for English language arts until July 30, 2014.
  • Why it’s important: To speed up the process for developing curriculum frameworks in science once the state board approves the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

SB 330 – Student health

  • SB 330, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, would include instruction about mental health in the next revision of the state health curriculum to promote positive mental health and identify signs of common mental health problems.
  • Why it’s important: Mental health is critical to student well-being and academic achievement. Teaching students about common mental health issues will reduce stigma and increase understanding.
  • Bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

SB 344 – School finance

  • SB 344, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, would require very detailed information, by school site, on how districts will use money under the new Local Control Funding Formula to provide programs and services for English learners, and require a parent representative from every school site to be elected to the new district parent advisory council.
  • Why it’s important: This bill, requiring detailed spending plans at school sites and giving school representatives a bigger policy role, steps on State Board of Education’s authority to determine rules for the LCFF by early 2014. It counters Gov. Brown’s preference to vest power at the district level.
  • Bill analysis.
  • Status: Vetoed by the governor.

SB 440 – College transfer degrees

  • SB 440, by Senator Alex Padilla, D- Pacoima, adds more teeth and more options to an earlier Padilla bill, SB 1440, which requires California Community Colleges and California State University to develop Associate degrees in two dozen majors that allow students to transfer to CSU as juniors.
  • Why it’s important: Community College students who earn a transfer degree will be automatically accepted into a Cal State campus as a junior and have a number of possible majors to choose within each major. Without SB 440 and its predecessor, it could transfer students three or more years to accumulate the credits they needed to graduate from Cal State.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Signed by the governor.

SB 520 – Online college courses

  • SB 520, by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would require online courses in the 50 most over-crowded and difficult to get into classes at the University of California, California State University and community colleges. The courses would be developed jointly by the UC, CSU and California Community Colleges.
  • Why it’s important: Budget cuts have forced California’s public colleges and universities to lay off faculty and reduce the number of courses they offer, creating long wait lists for many required courses and making it hard for students to graduate in two or four years. Steinberg said online courses would help reduce that bottleneck.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage; bill analysis.
  • Status: Turned into a two-year bill.

 SB 744 – Student discipline

  • SB 744, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, would have set conditions and restrictions for the transfer of students without parent permission to community day schools, usually for discipline and truancy reasons.
  • Why it’s important: Advocates say students are sent to languish in community day schools without clear standards for returning to traditional campuses.
  • Previous coverage from EdSource Today and the Center for Public Integrity; bill analysis.
  • Status: Vetoed by governor.

EdSource Today Editor John Fensterwald and staff writers Jane Meredith Adams, Kathryn Baron and Susan Frey contributed to this report. Graphic by John C. Osborn.

Filed under: Legislation, State Education Policy

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2 Responses to “Winners, losers as Brown takes action on education bills”

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  1. Hurley on August 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm08/23/2013 9:46 pm

    • 000

    Thank you for putting this together. It would be super if it were updated as the bills change and as they move through the process.

    I agree with Navigio–all students should be considered stakeholders and have parent representation in education decision-making.

  2. navigio on August 23, 2013 at 9:48 am08/23/2013 9:48 am

    • 000

    The SB344 analysis is outdated.

    I am also dismayed that that bill appears to focus solely on ELs, ie to the exclusion of the other ‘unduplicated’ students when it comes to the representation issue. Too bad.

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