Gov. Newsom Announces Compromise on Charter School Legislation

September 9, 2019

On August 28, Governor Gavin Newsom and several legislative leaders announced a compromise agreement that appeared to ensure approval of a bill (AB 1505, introduced by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell) that adjusts several aspects of the process under which charter schools are approved and renewed in California.

At a press conference with Assembly Speaker Antony Rendon, state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Newsom said: “We are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached on AB 1505 – legislation that significantly reforms the Charter Schools Act to address longstanding challenges for both school districts and charter schools. This agreement focuses on the needs of our students. It increases accountability for all charter schools, allows high-quality charter schools to thrive, and ensures that the fiscal and community impacts of charter schools on school districts are carefully considered...

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Many Voters Dubious About Modifying Prop. 13 Tax Limits on Commercial Properties to Boost Education Funding

By George Skelton, Los Angeles Times columnist - Rep: September 9, 2019

There was a jarring reality check in the Legislature during late August for interest groups plotting to change Proposition 13 and raise property taxes on major businesses (with the goal of increasing funding for public education).

The reality is that raising any taxes will be very hard to sell voters.

The plotters are led by some powerful public employee unions, including those representing teachers and service workers. They plan to place a citizens’ initiative on the November presidential election ballot next year.

Their measure would require that commercial property owned by all but the smallest businesses be reassessed at market value every three years...

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Sick of Students Looking at Their Phone in Class? Some Schools Have Started Locking Up Their Phones

By Erin Woo - Rep: August 26, 2019

As the second day of school let out at San Mateo High, administrators stood in the rotunda, waving plate-sized silver disks that students tapped with green-and-gray pouches.

Welcome to the newest front in the battle against cell phones in schools: San Mateo High and others across America have begun locking up students’ iPhones and Samsung Galaxies in opaque magnetic Yondr pouches designed to allow students to keep their phones in their possession but remove the temptation, and the opportunity, to break the rules by using them.

When students arrive at their first period class, they tap their Yondr pouches on a disk, known as a base, to unlock it and place their phones and smart watches inside. The pouches automatically lock when closed via a magnet, similar to anti-shoplifting devices in department stores...

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New Law Impacts Student Smartphone Use

August 26, 2019

Assembly Bill 272 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance), signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 1, allows (but does not require) a school board to adopt a policy to limit the use of smartphones by students while they are at school.

The bill declares that there is growing evidence that unrestricted use of smartphones by students during the school day interferes with the educational mission of schools; lowers pupil performance, particularly among low-achieving pupils; promotes cyberbullying; and contributes to an increase in teenage anxiety, depression and suicide.

AB 272, which adds section 48901.7 to the Education Code, states that governing boards may adopt a policy to limit or prohibit the use of smartphones by students while they are at school, but the law does not require boards to take any action...

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New Coalition of Health Advocacy Groups Calls for Statewide Soda Tax in California

By Angela Hart, Politico - Rep: July 29, 2019

Health advocacy groups launched a new campaign on July 17 to pass a statewide 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, setting up a potential standoff with the beverage industry after it successfully fought five bills this year that sought to curtail soda consumption.

The Californians for Less Soda coalition will also seek to reverse a 2018 law signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown that bans new local soda taxes until 2030 as it presses legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom to back their campaign.

The group hasn't proposed a specific ballot initiative or legislative measure, but it is pushing for an end-of-session proposal that includes a statewide excise tax on sugary drinks and restores the ability of cities and counties to seek their own soda tax increases...

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California Becomes the First State to Ban Discrimination at Schools Based on Natural Hairstyles

By Nicole Chavez and Faith Karimi, CNN - Rep: July 29, 2019

On July 3, California became the first state in the United States to ban employers and school officials from discriminating against people based on their natural hair.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Crown Act into law, making it illegal to enforce dress code or grooming policies against hairstyles such as afros, braids, twists, and locks.

Los Angeles Democrat Sen. Holly Mitchell, who introduced the bill earlier this year, said the law is about "inclusion, pride and choice."

"This law protects the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms," Mitchell said in a statement Wednesday. "I am so excited to see the culture change that will ensue from the law."...

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Guest Article

‘The Root Cause of Teacher Strikes is Found Not in Oakland or Los Angeles, but in Sacramento’

By Vernon M. Billy, Executive Director, California School Boards Association - June 12, 2019

Teachers in the Bay Area’s New Haven Unified School District hit the picket line several weeks ago. Their counterparts in Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento went on strike earlier this year. 2019 is becoming the Year of the Teacher Strike, a phenomenon four decades in the making.

Since the 1970s, California has consistently shortchanged public education and tarnished a school system which was once the state’s crown jewel. Forty years ago, California schools were rated in the top five nationally in per-pupil funding and had the results to match. Today, the state ranks 41st in per-student funding, 50th in student-teacher ratio, 48th in student-administrator ratio, 49th in overall student-staff ratio, 49th in guidance counselors and 50th in librarians...

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State Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill Requiring Lockdown Drills

June 3, 2019

On May 23, the California State Senate approved Senate Bill 541 by Senators Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada/Flintridge) that would require all kindergarten through 12th grade public and private schools, with an enrollment of 50 or more students, to conduct one lockdown drill per school year.

Senator Bates said, “Given the unfortunate threats to California’s schools today, we must ensure that students and staff are prepared for other dangers besides fires. In an active threat situation, seconds matter, and requiring lockdown drills can help save many lives. I thank my Senate colleagues for approving my bipartisan bill with Senator Portantino that will strengthen the safety of schools throughout California.”...

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Proposed California Law Would Outlaw Classroom Dissections

By Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee - Rep: May 7, 2019

Dissecting frogs and cats – a common assignment for kids in California biology classes – could soon be a thing of the past.

A bill from Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, would prohibit animal dissections in K-12 schools, both public and private.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a sponsor of the bill. The animal rights organization has documented methods used by companies that supply schools with birds, cats and amphibians for classroom dissections. PETA argues the practice is “miserably cruel.”...

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Proposed Legislation to Limit Number of California Charter Schools Sparks Heated Debate Among Parents, Educators

By Scott Rodd, Capital Public Radio News - April 19, 2019

Parents and educators converged on California’s Capitol on April 17 to debate a legislative package that would impose a statewide cap on the number of charter schools, and new oversight rules.

Supporters say charter-school laws have not been revised since they were first introduced more than 25 years ago. The legislation would establish a limit on charter schools in California, based on how many the state has by 2020. It would also grant local school districts sole authority to approve new charter schools and block them from operating outside of said district. The proposed legislative package limiting charter schools is being supported by the California Teachers Union, among other groups, calling for more accountability and oversight of charter schools...

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