The 2008 calendar year was to be the Governor’s year for education reform, but with the budget shortfalls that occurred with the 2007-08 and 2008-09 budgets, reforms were placed on hold.
One of the major issues in education in the 2007-08 Session has been the attempt to reform the regulation of private postsecondary institutions to crack down on so-called “diploma mill” institutions. The Private Postsecondary and Vocational Reform Act governs both degree and non-degree institutions and is overseen by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education. During the last 20 years, the Bureau has had a troubled history, which has been detailed in various reports and hearings. These hearings and reports have indicated the following problems that the Bureau faces: (1) a lack of leadership; (2) being governed by a confusing and ineffective law that’s difficult to interpret; (3) criticism in the courts; (4) an entity with a poor reputation and inadequate funding; and (5) major enforcement difficulties. Since 2006, attempts have been made to reform the law without success. In 2007, AB 1525 (Cook) was chaptered into law establishing minimal temporary oversight of private postsecondary institutions through January 2008. SB 823 (Perata) was the vehicle during the 2007-08 session for reform of the law. It would have established a new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education in the Department of Consumer Affairs to administer and enforcement of a new act, approving institutions to operate in California, maintaining a web site of information for consumers, providing outreach to students, conducting on-site inspections of institutions, developing a specified enforcement program, and providing annual reports to the Legislature and Governor. However, the Governor vetoed the bill indicating he would work, in the 2009-10 session, with the Legislature again to come up with a consensus piece of legislation. SB 963 (Ridley-Thomas) was signed into law establishing a sunset date of 1/1/13 for the new Bureau to be established by SB 823. SB 963 also contained sunsets for other boards in the Department of Consumer Affairs. With the veto of SB 823, the provisions of SB 963 relating to the Bureau of Postsecondary Education could not become law.
Another education-related issue of interest was the State Allocation Board awarding $251 million in construction grants to schools throughout the state. The allocation included more than $236 million from Proposition 1D funds, which was approved by the voters in 2006. These grants are to provide new construction and modernization projects to ease the classroom overcrowding California is experiencing. Also, 29 charter schools were awarded $463 million in Proposition 1D of 2006 funds.
One concern which could become an issue for legislation is the July 2008 State Board of Education’s mandating of algebra for all 8th graders. The U.S. Department of Education had placed pressure on the state to change its current 8th grade math test or face losing up to $4.1 million in funding. The U.S. Department of Education indicated that California was out of compliance in testing students. The federal government told California to either enforce the standard for all students by enrolling and testing them in Algebra I within three years, or develop an alternate test with some, but not all, Algebra I concepts for students not completing the full subject. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell indicated that the state chose to develop the new test to promote both rigor and flexibility. The exam, which covered 15 of the state’s 29 individual standards for Algebra I, became controversial. Some critics call it “Algebra Light.” The Governor urged the State Board of Education to vote for the mandatory Algebra I for all 8th graders arguing that a two-tiered system was inequitable. Opponents of the State Board of Education decision which included Superintendent O’Connell, the California School Boards Association, and the Association of California School Administrators, felt the Board’s decision was unfair and unrealistic. To expect every 13- and 14-year-old student to master algebra without a massive infusion of cash to pay for books, computers, programs, more class time, and more qualified teachers. Half of California 8th graders take full algebra, up from 34% four years ago. Approximately one-quarter of those who study algebra score proficient, or above, on standardized tests. The rate is even lower for African American, Latino and poor students. Opponents argued the Board’s decision was made hastily and that the public did not have adequate time to comment. In September 2008, the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators sued to stop enforcement of the Board’s decision. On October 29, 2008, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang granted a restraining order to postpone the State Board of Education’s plans until a December 19, 2008 court hearing. Superintendent O’Connell, has developed a California Algebra I Success Initiative that would expand school counseling services in grades 4 through 8 to identify and provide services for students not adequately prepared to take Algebra I in either grade, increasing instructional time for middle grades, increasing funding for the Instructional Material Funding Realignment Program to support the purchase of mathematics instructional materials in grades 4 through 7 intervention programs for struggling students and Algebra I materials for grade 8, implementation of a focused and comprehensive algebra professional development plan for all teachers and administration in grades K-12 to directly correlate mathematic algebra standards, providing incentives to expand the recruitment of highly qualified math teachers, and requiring the University of California and the California State University systems to accelerate math teacher training programs.
Lastly, the new Senate Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg, has indicated he is going to work in a bipartisan way to have career education (vocational education) be a major component of education reform in the 2009-10 session.
Education legislation chaptered into law included: SB 588 (Runner) providing for alternative building standards for the California Community Colleges, mirroring those applying to the California State University, while keeping plan check and oversight responsibilities with the Department of General Services; SB 602 (Torlakson) clarifying that a student may be granted exemption from courses in physical education if the student has met at least five of the six standards of the physical performance test; SB 658 (Romero) exempting a school district that receives Year-Round School Grant Program funds in fiscal year 2007-08 from losing eligibility for state school bond funds, sunsetting the Year-Round School Grant Program on July 1, 2013, and requiring the reallocation of those funds to the Charter School Facility Grant Program; SB 890 (Scott) establishing the Early Commitment to College program; SB 946 (Scott) permitting the individual results of the California Standards Test to be provided to the California Community Colleges so that the Early Assessment Program may be expanded to include participation by the prospective community college students; SB 1104 (Scott) streamlining requirements for the preliminary designated subjects career technical education teaching credential; SB 1105 (Margett) expanding the definition “conviction” when applied to suspending or revoking educator credentials to include pleas of no contest; SB 1110 (Scott) requiring the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to suspend a teaching credential when the holder’s credential has been revoked by another state; SB 1112 (Scott) extending the sunset date for specified provisions of current law relating to class size reduction apportionment penalties; SB 1158 (Scott) shifting 400 Assumption Program of Loans for Education awards from district interns to veteran teachers, as defined; SB 1186 (Scott) exempting specified teacher credential candidates from the California Basic Skills Proficiency Test and clarifying requirements for teacher preparation and development programs, as specified; SB 1197 (Alquist) requiring regional occupational centers and programs established and maintained by joint powers agreements to receive funding from the county office of education in which it is located instead of receiving funds from each of the school districts participating in the joint powers agreements; SB 1207 (Scott) updating statutes requiring a school district to have an open enrollment; SB 1251 (Steinberg) adding partial credit for people who graduate high school in five or six years to the calculation of each high school’s Academic Performance Index; SB 1274 (Wyland) providing additional direction with respect to the instruction provided by a public school in association with its choice to satisfy the patriotic exercise requirement with the Pledge of Allegiance; SB 1298 (Simitian) establishing processes by which local education agencies and public institutions of higher education issue, maintain, and report information using the unique statewide student identifiers required under current law; SB 1303 (Runner) specifying the conditions in which school employees who are placed on mandatory leaves of absence for certain drug-related offenses and who complete a drug diversion program may be compensated using accrued leave and differential pay for the period of leave upon their return to work; SB 1370 (Yee) adding more protections for school employees from being suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise being retaliated against to protect pupils’ freedom of speech and of the press; SB 1378 (Dutton) permitting school districts to use a portion of their professional development block grant funds to provide suicide prevention training to teachers; SB 1437 (Padilla) establishing in statute the California Virtual Campus; SB 1457 (Steinberg) establishing the California Scholarshare Advancement Vehicle for Education program within the Scholarshare Trust to fund scholarships for beneficiaries to be determined by the Scholarshare Investment Board; SB 1621 (Ashburn) making modifications regarding eligibility for participation in the State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education by nursing faculty; SB 1629 (Steinberg) establishing the Early Learning Quality Improvement System Advisory Committee to develop recommendations on how to evaluate and improve the quality of child development programs providing services from birth to age five, including preschool; SB 1637 (Torlakson) extending the sunset on the California Technology Assistance Project and Statewide Educational Technology Services for five years; SB 1638 (Alquist) enhancing education services to pupils in juvenile court schools; SB 1660 (Romero) permitting a school district to expend Professional Development Block Grant funds to compensate new and existing mathematics, science, and special education teachers in schools ranked in deciles 1, 2, or 3 of the Academic Performance Index in a manner separate from the salary schedule, as specified; SB 1666 (Calderon) expanding the area of a “safe school zone” from 1,000 to 1,500 feet from a school, and providing that existing school disruption and related crimes apply to proscribed conduct on or around a private school; SB 1680 (Wyland) enhancing veterans’ opportunities relative to education benefits; AB 86 (Lieu) adding to the School/Law Enforcement Partnership program provisions related to bullying committed by means of an electronic act; AB 131 (Beall) permitting holders of an education specialist teaching credential to provide instruction to pupils who are three and four years of age and who have been diagnosed as autistic, as specified; AB 352 (Solorio) expanding the existing prohibition against openly displaying or exposing any imitation firearm in a public place to include any such display on the grounds of a public school; AB 519 (Assembly Budget Committee) enacting the 2007-08 Education Budget Trailer Bill; AB 638 (Bass) establishing, until January 1, 2014, the California Physician Assistant Loan Assumption Program to assume up to $20,000 in student loans for eligible students who agree to practice in medically underserved areas; AB 876 (Davis) requesting the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) to provide assistance in the development of K-12 Career Technical Education courses for the purposes of admission to UC and CSU; AB 994 (Parra) extending the sunset date for the Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship Pilot Program; AB 1163 (Krekorian) permitting school districts to claim and expend more than 5%, but no more than 15%, of their adult block entitlement for approved adult education innovation and alternative instructional delivery programs if the programs are approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; AB 1480 (Mendoza) permitting the State Teachers’ Retirement System to offer a Roth Individual Retirement Account for the purpose of rolling over assets held in an annuity contract or custodial account offered by the system; AB 1871 (Coto) expanding the path by which teachers may earn a Bilingual, Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development authorization; AB 2033 (Nunez) revising the methodology used by the California School Finance Authority to calculate the interest rate of loans to charter schools for the financing of school facilities; AB 2040 (Nunez) calling for a panel to make recommendations regarding alternative means for pupils with disabilities to demonstrate achievement levels similar to that required to pass the exit exam; AB 2049 (Saldana) requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a task force to review and make recommendations regarding the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children; AB 2226 (Ruskin) encouraging institutions of higher education or local education agencies to accept coursework or field experience completed in another institution or agency; AB 2260 (Assembly Higher Education Committee) clarifying that students participating in the Competitive Cal Grant B Award program may use a college grade point average (GPA), if they have one, in lieu of a high school GPA; AB 2261 (Ruskin) permitting the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges to establish a pilot program to provide a coordinated statewide network of open education resources; AB 2300 (Laird) requiring the California Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health Care Services, to develop and implement a process for using data from the Medi-Cal program to directly enroll children in the school meal programs; AB 2302 (Bass) permitting holders of a Level 1 education specialist teaching credential for mild to moderate disabilities to provide instruction to pupils with autism spectrum disorder; AB 2555 (Torrico) requiring the existing notice to parents of pupils with disabilities about their rights and procedural safeguards to include information regarding the state special schools; AB 2648 (Bass) requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in conjunction with specified parties, to develop a report that explores the feasibility of establishing and expanding additional multiple pathway programs in California; AB 2729 (Ruskin) establishing, until 7/1/14, the School District Account in the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup fund, to provide reimbursement for specified cleanup costs of school districts with petroleum underground storage tanks; AB 2759 (Jones) consolidating the State Preschool program and the portion of the general child care and development program that serves three- and four-year-olds into one preschool program, establishing the California State Preschool Program; AB 2855 (Hancock) providing for the establishment of Green Technology Partnership Academies for the purpose of training young people in the emerging environmentally sound technologies; and AB 2932 (Karnette) requiring instructional materials for foreign language and health to be submitted to the State Board of Education for adoption in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Vetoed education legislation included: SB 29 (Simitian) requiring any local educational agency that chooses to issue a pupil a device that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) for purposes of recording attendance or tracking pupil location to notify and obtain written consent from the pupil’s parents or guardian before the RFID device may be issued to the pupil; SB 146 (Scott) requiring the first step in what is intended to be a multiyear transition from average daily attendance to average monthly enrollment as the basis for funding public schools in California; SB 325 (Scott) establishing a state accountability framework for the purpose of biennially assessing the collective progress of the state’s system of postsecondary education in meeting specified education and economic goals; SB 413 (Scott) expanding the ability of Community Colleges to obtain state apportionment funding for credit courses offered in correctional institutions; SB 867 (Cedillo) permitting the family child care providers to form, join, and participate in “provider organizations” for purposes of negotiating with state agencies on specified matters; SB 908 (Simitian) adding climate change to the list of environmental education topics that shall be included in the revision of the science framework; SB 1097 (Torlakson) establishing a process for review and revision of the reading/language arts and history/social science state academic content standards; SB 1111 (Scott) requiring the State Board of Education to minimize testing time, maintain academic rigor, maximize the efficiency of the state testing system, and only implement federally required tests pursuant to state law; SB 1214 (Cedillo) permitting social sciences instruction in grades one to six, inclusive, to include instruction on the unconstitutional deportation of citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. to Mexico during the Great Depression; SB 1301 (Cedillo) expanding the availability of financial aid to those UC and CSU students eligible for nonresident tuition status under AB 540 of 2001; SB 1322 (Lowenthal) deleting various references in statute to communism: (a) as cause for dismissal of school, community college, and public employees, and (b) relative to the use of school property; SB 1330 (Torlakson) requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a task force for the purpose of developing recommendations for a comprehensive statewide plan on education technology; SB 1354 (Torlakson) requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to evaluate the ability of school districts to build complete schools recommended by the California Department of Education with funds provided by the State Allocation Board and local matching funds; SB 1425 (Steinberg) developing a process for reviewing and responding to requests for aggregate or non-identifiable, individual pupil data records housed in the emerging California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System; SB 1442 (Wiggins) permitting school districts and charter schools that offer specified supplemental programs to offer instruction with real-world applications delivered through project-based learning and problem-based teaching strategies; SB 1446 (Romero) exempting, until December 31, 2010, eligible pupils with disabilities from the requirement to pass the high school exit exam as a condition of receiving a high school diploma, and providing the opportunity for eligible pupils with disabilities to receive a diploma; SB 1515 (Kuehl) prohibiting an educational provider from using chemical and mechanical restraint, and limiting the use of physical restraint and seclusion, as specified; SB 1524 (Romero) requiring that the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement System have the ability to disaggregate data related to Asian Pacific Islander pupils in order to provide a more accurate view of the academic achievement of the subgroups of pupils within that category; SB 1585 (Padilla) establishing a voluntary five-year pilot program for not more than 10 community colleges to increase the rate of student transfer to four-year institutions; SB 1607 (Romero) requiring the State Board of Education, in the next revision of the Reading/Language Arts framework, to include a chapter that provides for language and content instruction specific to English learners, as specified; SB 1674 (Torlakson) expanding (within existing funding) the existing After School Education and Safety Program to allow programs to operate on weekends; SB 1709 (Alquist) establishing the Standardized Testing Achievement Rewards to provide non-monetary pupil awards and incentives based on testing results; SB 1735 (Romero) requiring school districts to accept any documents and representations that reasonably provide evidence that a pupil meets residency requirements for school attendance within the district that show the name and address of the parent or guardian within the school district; SB 1767 (Alquist), permitting the California Learning Resource Network to provide information about the extent to which electronic learning assessment resources are compatible with state student data systems; AB 100 (Mullin) increasing the new construction and special education per-unhoused-pupil grants for the construction of new school facilities by specified amounts; AB 357 (Mendoza) making a publisher or manufacturer who fails to deliver instructional materials within 60 days of the receipt of a purchase order from a school district liable for damages, as specified; AB 531 (Salas) requiring that the history-social science framework and instructional materials for grade 4 and either grade 11 or 12, when they are adopted in the course of the next submission cycle, include the case of Mendez v. Westminster School District and the role it played in the civil rights movement and desegregation of public schools in California and the nation; AB 599 (Mullin) restructuring of school district revenue limits and revising the basic school finance formulas that determine school district general purpose revenues; AB 1028 (Caballero) establishing accounting rules and auditing practices for child care and development centers and agencies which contract with the California Department of Education; AB 1112 (Torrico) permitting proceeds from the sale of local school bond funds to be used to acquire or construct residential rental property to house teachers and employees of the district; AB 1230 (Laird) establishing the California Career Resources Network, an existing independent state agency, as a program within the California Department of Education; AB 1502 (Lieu) promoting the inclusion of financial literacy in curriculum frameworks and instruction; AB 1526 (Assembly Budget Committee) placing an initiative on the statewide ballot to allow budgetary flexibility related to the expenditure of Proposition 98 funding, as it pertains to After School programs; AB 1754 (Hayashi) requiring the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to distribute a model grade changing policy; AB 1863 (Portantino) encouraging the State Board of Education to include the role and contribution of Italian Americans, as specified, in the next history-social science framework; AB 1872 (Coto) establishing the California Autism Spectrum Disorder Clearinghouse within the California Department of Education to assist in the education of pupils with autism spectrum disorder; AB 1885 (Nava) providing that a pupil who does not pass the exit exam by grade 12 but is receiving intensive instruction and services is not to be considered a dropout; AB 2034 (Nunez) encouraging the California Department of Education to ensure inclusion of information about American Indians within the history-social science curriculum framework; AB 2064 (Arambula) encouraging that instruction on the Vietnam War be included in the history-social science curriculum; AB 2078 (Fuentes) providing that work-based learning opportunities for pupils may be delivered through specified existing career technical education programs; AB 2115 (Mullin) requiring charter school governing board members to comply with the same conflict of interest policies which school district governing board members currently abide with; AB 2135 (Mendoza) establishing an English Development Literacy Program within the reading/language arts curriculum; AB 2138 (Adams) revising high school graduation requirements relative to foster care children; AB 2167 (De Leon) expanding the rights given to a local education agency employee with respect to their review and response to false or unsubstantiated items placed in the employee’s personnel record; AB 2173 (Caballero) revising requirements for assessing developer fees for the building of school facilities; AB 2213 (Houston) permitting a principal of a public or private school to issue work permits or to designate another administrator to issue work permits for pupils that attend their school; AB 2214 (Nakanishi) permitting a parent or guardian to waive the requirement that notices, reports, statements, or records be sent in a primary language and instead receive materials only in English; AB 2243 (Carter) modifying the approval process for local reorganization petitions to create one or more new school districts; AB 2305 (Karnette) establishing a process for determining whether a charter school will administer required tests to its pupils or allow the district that approved the school’s charter to administer the tests; AB 2315 (Mullin) making major changes to the process of adopting instructional materials for K-8 grades; AB 2396 (Carter) adding participation in civic activities to the definition of an excused absence; AB 2438 (Price) revising the exit criteria for the Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program and the High Priority Schools Grant Program; AB 2467 (Brownley) permitting the transfer of information about a preschool pupil to the local public school to which the pupil will transfer to include information that the Superintendent of Public Instruction deems appropriate and helpful to the public school teacher; AB 2468 (Brownley) requiring the State Board of Education to adopt procedures governing the adoption and purchase of instructional material used in K-8 grades; AB 2630 (Salas) conforming state law concerning access to pupil records and personally identifiable information with federal law; AB 2704 (Leno) prohibiting school districts from being a party to any contract that restricts the availability of free tap water on school campuses; AB 2843 (Karnette) permitting the educational enrichment element of the After School Education and Safety Program to include foreign languages; AB 2994 (Lieber) enhancing the protection and confidentiality of pupil record information; AB 3033 (Laird), requesting the University of California (UC) and requiring the Department of General Services to establish a model contract with standard provisions for research training and revising contracts undertaken by UC for the state; and AB 3084 (Cook) encouraging social science instruction in grades 7-12 to include the role of Filipinos in World War II.