Legislation Update - 11/01/2009

By Peter Birdsall
Executive Director of Advocacy & Association Services

Governor Signs/Vetoes Important Education Bills

Sunday, October 11, was the deadline for the Governor to take action on several hundred bills that had been approved by the Legislature during the final weeks of their regular legislative session. In a flurry of actions Sunday night, the Governor signed or vetoed several bills of particular interest.

Data "Firewall"

The Governor signed the bill eliminating the "firewall" between state student assessment data and teacher evaluation—SB 19 (Simitian). This had become a high profile public issue when US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said California would be ineligible for federal "Race to the Top" grant funding because it prohibited the use of such data for teacher evaluations.

8th & 9th Grade Dropout Data

The Governor signed SB 651 (Romero), which has the effect of requiring implementation of legislation from 2007 that calls for 8th grade and 9th grade dropout rates to be included in the Academic Performance Index (API), and that requires the scores of many students in educational options to be attributed back to their school of residence. It is anticipated that 8th and 9th grade dropout rates will become part of the state's API in 2011. It likely will take longer to implement procedures to assign scores back to the school of residence for students in educational options.

Districts of Choice

The Governor signed SB 680 (Romero), which would restore and modify the "District of Choice" program and allow its implementation statewide. This program allows students to attend a district of choice without approval by the district of residence.

IB and Race to the Top

One of the strategies for 2009-10 to promote International Baccalaureate programs and the IB grant program is to seek to include specific reference to the program in the Governor's "Race to the Top" plan. This approach seems particularly viable because the federal guidelines specifically reference International Baccalaureate.

Our office has a request in to the office of the Governor's Secretary for Education to meet to discuss this issue. Our plan is to schedule the meeting so that Ed Marquez can join us. We have talked with staff working on the plan, but a meeting with the Secretary has not been scheduled yet because the timeline for plan development has been delayed. We originally expected the plan to be completed in December, but it now appears that February is the anticipated deadline.

Educating legislators about IB

The CAWS Board has agreed that the top legislative priority for 2010 must be to educate state legislators about the value of the IB program. In particular, we decided to focus on potential new members of the State Assembly. There are two key reasons for this approach:

  • There is no state funding available in 2010-11 to expand the IB grant program. For this reason we should focus on positioning ourselves for future budget and legislative discussions.
  • Candidates and legislators are most available to meet with IB parent groups and other advocates during election years.

The focus on new members of the Assembly is that they are likely to serve six years in the Assembly and potentially another eight in the Senate. Thus the identification of an IB "champion" among the new legislators can result in long-term benefits in the legislative process.

The list of candidates will be available in February, 2010. IB schools will be provided with recommended strategies to get candidates to come to IB functions. They will be provided with key information materials and talking points. Our office is currently pulling together information for those materials. Following the release of the Governor's budget in January, we can finalize the draft packet for review by the CAWS Board and distribution to the IB schools.

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