by Claudia Briggs
Gov. Jerry Brown, speaking at State Council
CTA members can claim victory on several pro-education bills that do great things for California’s students, which were enacted during the first year of the 2013-14 legislative session. At the same time, we worked hard to defeat or stall a number of bad bills that would have impaired or hurt educators and students.
Gov. Jerry Brown had until Oct. 13 to decide whether to sign education, fiscal and pro-labor bills that reached his desk, ultimately signing more than 80 CTA-supported bills.
The increase in school funding, no doubt, is the issue you’ve heard about the most. The passage of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) marks a monumental shift in the way California’s schools are funded. Over the past 40 years, the California public school finance system became complex and costly to administer, and created an inequitable funding structure. The LCFF addresses the fact that districts throughout the state have different and unique needs. And the simplified format and increased local control allows those closest to students to decide how to best invest resources to support student success.
While school districts across the state will see their funding increase under the formula, those districts with the greatest numbers of low-income students, English learners, and foster youth will benefit from the largest increases.
“The LCFF gives us — local educators — an opportunity to be right in the middle of school improvement conversations,” says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “Through the LCFF, communities and parents are looking to us for guidance on what’s best for their kids.”
This historic shift in how California public schools are funded is happening at just the right time, Vogel adds, “because it’ll help us in transitioning to and implementing the Common Core State Standards. The standards put teachers back in control of crafting and tailoring the education of their students just as the LCFF gives parents, educators and communities the local control to decide what’s best for their students.”
An important component to the transition is CTA-supported AB 484, which allows schools flexibility in testing while students and teachers become more familiar with the new standards and become technologically ready to take the new state assessments.
Here are a few of the bills CTA worked on this session. Find a complete list at cta.org/legislation2013.
STAR program shelved
Among the important CTA-backed bills the governor signed is AB 484, which suspends the state's high-stakes testing to make way for a new assessment system. AB 484 suspends the current Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program immediately and allows students and educators to fully prepare for the transition to the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), the new computer-based assessments.
AB 449, submitted by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), requires district superintendents to report to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing any allegations of misconduct of certificated staff when warranted to keep students safe and safeguard the profession.
AB 10, proposed by Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), raises the minimum wage in California to $10 an hour by 2016.
Arming of school staff prevented
Teachers, principals and even school janitors could have been armed in California if AB 202, submitted by Assembly Member Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), had not been defeated. The bill died in committee. While supporting numerous school safety measures, CTA opposes any efforts to unilaterally arm educators across the state.
Vetoed was SB 441, submitted by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), which would have undermined the usefulness of an evaluation system by focusing on just four rigid, unproven measures of performance that the bill’s backers “assume” will boost teacher effectiveness. The bill failed to address weaknesses in the current evaluation systems and would have prevented teachers from having a say in the process by removing evaluations from the scope of collective bargaining. CTA believes in a comprehensive and effective evaluation system that helps to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.
Funds for English learners
Gov. Brown vetoed SB 344, submitted by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), which would have placed onerous requirements on school districts prior to receiving supplemental funds for English learners under the Limited English Proficient Students program.
As submitted by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and signed by the governor, SB 368 allows educators to use their experience and prior coursework to qualify for add-on authorizations for their special education credentials. The bill will keep CTA members from having to spend time and money on coursework for skills they already have.
Fair dismissal vetoed
CTA is disappointed with Gov. Brown’s veto of AB 375. Submitted by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), the measure was designed to speed up the teacher dismissal process, help protect the safety of students, and safeguard the teaching profession.
The governor vetoed AB 729, a bill by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), which would have protected the confidentiality of communications between union members and their grievance representatives. It would have ensured our members' ability to share information with their representatives without fear that the union personnel could be compelled to reveal information shared in confidence.
Community college fees
The governor signed CTA-opposed AB 955, a bill by Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), which creates a two-tier fee system in community colleges by authorizing six college pilot programs to charge their students exorbitant fees for intersession courses. These fees will cost more than $750 for a typical three-unit community college course. This increase would make some community college courses more expensive than courses offered by CSU.
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