Data

EdTracker: EdSource’s guide to education legislation



Last year California state legislators passed the Local Control Funding Formula, transforming how schools are funded. They ended the state’s existing system of standardized testing and created a roadmap for introducing new assessments of student performance. And they approved significant funding for implementing the new Common Core standards.

While collectively the raft of education bills introduced this year do not approach that level of magnitude, they do address a range of important issues: universal kindergarten for 4-year-olds, school discipline, teacher dismissal, and bachelor’s degrees at the community college level, to name a few.  EdSource will focus on a number of key bills through our EdTracker, reporting their status as they go through the legislative process. Our list will likely expand in coming weeks. Check back for updates.

Assembly bills

AB 364 – Child care oversight

  • AB 364, by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, would institute unannounced visits to state-funded child care providers with the goal of providing more effective oversight.
  • Why it’s important: State-funded child care centers currently operate with very little oversight, as first reported by the Center for Investigative Reporting. When state evaluators do visit the sites, they provide advanced warning, creating the possibility of an unwarranted positive review.

AB 420 – Student discipline

  • AB 420, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would eliminate willful defiance or disruption of school activities as a reason to expel students and would limit its use in suspensions.
  • Why it’s important: The “willful defiance” category, which accounts for more than 40 percent of suspensions statewide, is subjective and has been used disproportionally in many districts against African-American and Latino students. Discipline issues have also received increased scrutiny under the new Local Control Funding Formula for schools, which requires districts to create a Local Control and Accountability Plan that must include how they plan to improve school climate, including minimizing expulsions and suspensions. AB 420 is Dickinson’s second attempt to limit the use of willful defiance. The bill was first introduced last year and passed in the Assembly, but was held over to the current session to hash out remaining disagreements. The bill now sits in the Senate Education Committee’s inactive file; discussions between Dickinson’s staff and Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff are ongoing because Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2012.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

AB 1444 – Mandatory kindergarten

  •  AB 1444, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, would make kindergarten attendance mandatory.
  • Why it’s important: Kindergarten is an optional grade and only 81 percent of eligible children enroll. Advocates of mandatory kindergarten say this first year of public schooling is critical to future success and should be mandatory for all students.

AB 1451 – Community college dual enrollment

  • AB 1451, by Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, would expand opportunities for high school students to take courses at community colleges under concurrent or dual enrollment agreements.
  • Why it’s important: Concurrent enrollment courses currently available to high school students tend to be narrowly focused, such as make-up courses or Advanced Placement classes not offered at high schools. Advocates say AB 1451 bill will create a more formalized, streamlined approach by calling on districts and colleges to create partnerships so that courses offered at colleges complement what is being offered at high schools. Such courses play a large role in helping prepare students for college and careers.
  • Bill analysis; previous EdSource Today coverage.
  • Status: The bill stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August because of cost concerns, but Holden said he will reintroduce the legislation next year. “I remain committed to fighting for expanded opportunities for students to excel academically,” he said.

AB 1866 – Student attendance

  • AB 1866, by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, would collect data on absenteeism using the California Department of Education’s student record system. The bill is one of a package of five attendance-related bills backed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris to address what she calls an “attendance crisis” in California.
  • Why it’s important: Chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10 percent or more days during the school year, is a strong predictor of dropping out, yet the California Department of Education currently does not track absenteeism on a statewide basis. Bill advocates say tracking chronically absent students will allow schools to use more effective interventions.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

AB 2235 – School construction bonds

  • AB 2235, by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, would place a multi-billion dollar facilities bond on the November 2014 ballot; the exact amount has not yet been set. The K-12 portion of the bond would be for new construction, modernization and charter school facilities. Districts would gain flexibility in the design of facilities.
  • Why it’s important: It’s been eight years since voters last approved funding for school construction ($10 billion in 2006), and the state exhausted its money two years ago. Districts report billions of dollars in needed projects. This bill will require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to place the measure on the ballot.

AB 2319 – Common Core

  • AB 2319, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would authorize a second block grant of about $1.5 billion that school districts could use to train teachers, buy textbooks and instructional materials, develop curriculum and support career technical education needed to implement Common Core State Standards. California and 44 other states have adopted the voluntary standards in math and English, which outline the skills students need.
  • Why it’s important:  Districts received a one-time grant of $1.25 billion in the 2013-14 state budget – about $200 per student – for Common Core implementation, but say they need much more to continue that work.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

 

Senate bills

SB 837 – Universal transitional kindergarten

  • SB 837, by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and several fellow senators, would expand transitional kindergarten to serve all 4-year-olds.
  • Why it’s important: A publicly funded pre-kindergarten year for all 4-year-olds, regardless of income, would create a new grade level in California.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

SB 843 – Teacher dismissal

  • SB 843, written by the California School Boards Association and carried by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, would shorten the time it would take to fire a teacher accused of “egregious” misconduct, including sex crimes, abuse and immoral conduct, and expand the ability to gather more evidence to support the charges. An administrative law judge, instead of a three-person panel, would decide the case against teachers accused of misconduct.
  • Why it’s important: High-profile cases of serial pedophiles in schools have angered the public and underscored flaws with the current law. Lawmakers have failed for the past two years to change it. An initiative, now gathering signatures, would make more drastic changes than the school boards association favors.
  • Previous EdSource coverage

SB 850 – Community college baccalaureates

  • SB 850, by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would create an eight-year pilot program allowing each California community college to offer one baccalaureate degree in a high-need occupation, such as respiratory therapy and automotive technology management, as long as it doesn’t duplicate a degree offered by nearby California State University and University of California campuses.
  • Why it’s important: Due to advances in technology and complexity of the work, an increasing number of skilled professions that used to require an associate degree or certificate are now giving hiring preference to candidates with bachelor’s degrees. Bill proponents say the measure would increase the number of graduates prepared for high-paid careers.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

SB 1108 – English learners

  • SB 1108, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, would require the State Board of Education to adopt uniform procedures for reclassifying English learners, based on best practices. Districts currently have their own criteria to determine if English learners have enough language proficiency to be reclassified as a fluent English speaker, and reclassification rates among districts widely vary. Students who have been reclassified typically perform better academically than those who continue to be classified as English learners and often as well as native English speakers.
  • Why it’s important: As highlighted in a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California, the criteria used and the rates of reclassification vary significantly among districts, often to students’ detriment. The Local Control Funding Formula, which awards extra dollars for English learners, may create a disincentive for reclassification.

SB 1174 – Bilingual education

  • SB 1174, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, would put an initiative before voters on the November 2016 ballot to repeal Proposition 227, the 1998 initiative that banned most bilingual education in California and required that English learners be taught in English.
  • Why it’s important: Being multilingual is essential to success in the global economy, Lara said. He also cited several studies showing that students who are bilingual do better in school.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

 SB 1221 – After-school program standards

  • SB 1221, by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, would update the standards for after-school programs, give priority funding to year-round programs and provide extra funds for small rural programs.
  • Why it’s important: With the adoption of the 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. Programs would be judged based on their ability to help students develop new skills and learn appropriate behavior, rather than their performance on standardized tests.
  • Previous EdSource Today coverage

 

Staff writers Jane Meredith Adams, Kathryn Baron, John Fensterwald, Susan Frey and Lillian Mongeau contributed to this report. Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California.

Filed under: Data, Legislation, State Education Policy

Comments

EdSource encourages a robust debate on education issues and welcomes comments from our readers. The level of thoughtfulness of our community of readers is rare among online news sites. To preserve a civil dialogue, writers should avoid personal, gratuitous attacks and invective. Comments should be relevant to the subject of the article responded to. EdSource retains the right not to publish inappropriate and non-germaine comments. EdSource encourages commenters to use their real names. Commenters who do decide to use a pseudonym should use it consistently.

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5 Responses to “EdTracker: EdSource’s guide to education legislation”

  1. Charles Burns said

    on March 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Using firefox, when I click on the bill, only the left half of the text is displayed.

    • John Fensterwald replied

      on March 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks, Charles, for bringing this to our attention. Should be fixed now.

  2. Deborah Blair Porter said

    on March 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I am interested in knowing if Ed Source staff looked at California’s new legislation from the perspective of California’s students with disabilities.

    For example, the information regarding the new legislation involving willful defiance notes it is important as “The “willful defiance” category, which accounts for more than 40 percent of suspensions statewide, is subjective and has been used disproportionally in many districts against African-American and Latino students” but does not mention how students with disabilities are similarly impacted. I would refer Ed Source to an article last year on NEA Today which noted the significance of this basis for suspension of students with disabilities. http://neatoday.org/2013/08/14/should-willful-defiance-be-grounds-for-suspension/. I believe the other issues presented by legislation above also in some respect relate to students with disabilities and thus warrant consideration and discussion as to their importance in that regard.

    Unfortunately consideration of issues from the perspective of this segment of our student population typically does not happen in education discussions in today’s media, so that important aspects of education policy and how they fail to address the needs of this subgroup are not focused on. For example the role of the LCFF and how students with disabilities were excluded from its benefits and the impact that will have on the education of those students and California in the long term.

    I appreciate Ed Source condensing this important information and making the legislative process “user friendly”. I would just hope that the focus of your review expands a bit wider to include how this legislation may affect all students, including students with disabilities.

  3. Fred Jones said

    on March 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I think most of the substantive education policy reform initiatives will actually not happen in policy committee settings but instead will happen in the Budget Subcommittees on Ed Finance in both Houses. Implementing LCFF and dealing with some of the unintended consequences will likely shift the focus to these committees for a number of years.

    Example: What will the state do to save Career Technical Education? According to Dept of Ed data released in January, CTE enrollment dropped over 12% (101,000 students) and we lost one-fifth (19.6%) of all high school CTE teacher IN JUST THE LAST YEAR ALONE! This precipitous drop will only gain momentum next year as LCFF is fully embraced by LEAs who will be freed from any restrictions on how to spend Voc Ed dollars.

    So I hope EdSource keeps as close an eye on budget deliberations as Ed Committee activities.

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