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...

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Achievement Gap Legislation by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber Advances

April 21, 2018

By Manny Otiko, California Black Media

Legislators and education advocates came together on April 11 to show support for a bill that they believe will help fix how education is funded for one of the lowest performing subgroups. Advocates say there was a flaw in the five-year-old law that overhauled how education funding is appropriated to school districts through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

Assembly Bill 2635, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), would target $350 million towards struggling school districts. Many of these districts educate California’s black student population which has historically failed to meet grade-level proficiency in math and reading and perform right above special education students...

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NAACP Opposes Legislation to Arm Teachers at School

March 9, 2018

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) -- the nation’s leading civil rights organization -- issued the following statement on March 8 regarding the arming of Florida teachers with guns. Johnson said:

“The Florida Legislature voted yesterday to allow teachers to carry weapons in schools. The NAACP finds the very idea of arming teachers as a solution to gun violence utterly absurd and misguided. We know that children of color are portrayed and seen as more dangerous, more culpable and less human than children viewed as white.  Given this background, how can parents of Black children feel comfortable sending their children to a school where guns abound and where the perception of threat could have deadly consequences?  Can one imagine telling a parent that their child has been shot in school not by an intruder but by a teacher or staff person who felt threatened by them?...

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Legislators Hold Hearing on Special Education Funding 

March 9, 2018

A joint informational hearing on February 28 with California’s Senate and Assembly education budget subcommittees and education committees reviewed the latest reform in special education funding, Assembly Bill 602, which readjusted the distribution of special education funding. The hearing was the latest consideration of how special education is funded in the state - one that has occurred several times over the previous decades.

Experts at the hearing were in agreement that the current funding model, established in 1998, is an improvement over previous methods, which supplied funds through about a dozen disability-specific special education categories, each with its own eligibility criteria and funding rules.

Instead, AB 602 funds special education based on the Average Daily Attendance of the entire student body, not in relation to the number of students with disabilities in a particular district. These funds are distributed through education agencies called Special Education Local Plan Areas, or SELPAs, that allocate money, provide services and oversee operations...

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Education Budget Sub-Committee Chair Unveils Proposal to Increase LCFF by $1.2 Billion

February 24, 2018

On February 20, Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Chairman of the Senate Budget Sub-Committee on Education, and Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties) introduced a budget proposal to add $1.2 billion dollars to Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The proposal assumes that the 2018-2019 budget includes the full funding of LCFF plus an addition $1.2 billion. Many school districts have long stressed that the base funding level in LCFF was set too low from the outset.  This proposal is an attempt to increase the base level for this fiscal year and will become a permanent part of the funding formula moving forward.  Of this amount, $1 billion will increase the base grant and $200 million will increase the base supplemental and concentration grants...

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CDE Announces School Resources Following Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

February 10, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on February 7 that the California Department of Education (CDE) is offering resources aimed at preventing those under 21 from using marijuana, something even more important now that Proposition 64 has taken effect.

Proposition 64, besides legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, creates a tax on cannabis for wholesalers, retailers, and purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Eventually, some of these tax funds will be directed by the CDE to promote health, education, and drug prevention.

“This is an excellent time to remind parents, students, educators, administrators, and the public about the detrimental effects of marijuana, especially to the developing brains of children,” Torlakson said...

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ACSA Endorses Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent

January 29, 2018

On January 17, the Association of California School Administrators, representing more than 17,000 California education leaders, announced its endorsement of Marshall Tuck in the 2018 statewide election for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“ACSA’s endorsement of Tuck challenges many of the traditional narratives that persist in education politics in Sacramento,” said ACSA Executive Director Dr. Wesley Smith. “ACSA is proud to endorse a candidate who not only understands education leadership, but is committed to working with educational leaders to improve student access and outcomes, as well.”

Tuck has worked in public education for fifteen years, leading two public school systems, and most recently serving as Educator-in-Residence at the nonprofit New Teacher Center..

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Torlakson Opposes Federal Tax Bill Changes that Hurt Teachers

December 18, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on December 12 that he opposes changes in pending federal tax bills that could reduce the income of teachers and aspiring teachers at a time when California faces a teacher shortage. A letter has been sent to the congressional members of the House Committee on Education regarding these bills.

Current law lets teachers deduct $250 annually for paper, pencils, pens, and other classroom supplies, an assistance program that Congress created in 2002. The House Republican tax bill would scrap that deduction, and the Senate version would double it to $500. Congress must reconcile the tax proposals before sending a final bill to President Trump...

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Four Democratic Legislators Endorse Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent

December 4, 2017

State Senators Scott Wiener and Steve Glazer, along with State Assemblymembers Blanca Rubio and Marc Berman announced on November 17 that they are endorsing Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This follows an announcement earlier in the month that renowned education advocate State Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber is also supporting Tuck’s campaign.

In emails to campaign supporters, these state legislators expressed their desire to partner with Marshall on a plan to make California’s public schools among the best in the nation:

Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, who represents the 48th Assembly District in Los Angeles County, said, “Marshall Tuck has actually done the critical work in some of the highest-needs communities in California...

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Superintendents Call on Congress to Protect DACA Students

By Beau Yarbrough - Rep: October 30, 2017

An Oct. 24 letter – urging Congress to protect students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status – was sent by Los Angeles-based Broad Center to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. The letter was signed by 55 superintendents and charter school chief executives from around the country.

“Every year, about 65,000 undocumented young people graduate from our nation’s high schools, according to the American Immigration Council. We know many of them, and their families, personally,” the letter reads. “For most of them, life in the United States is all they know. Indeed, they are as American as our other students in every way, shape and form except on paper...

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