Jun 29th, 2011

CA Education Policy News Update

By: Mona Vakilifathi | 03:06 PM

After the unexpected veto from Governor Brown last week, state policymakers continued to struggle this week negotiating for a budget that allows for an election regarding the tax extensions.
In response to Brown’s veto, Democrats have been waiting for Brown to garner the appropriate number of Republican votes, as reported by the KQED Capital Notes blog. On Tuesday, Brown announced his intentions to consider an alternative budget proposal. According to the L.A. Times and to Bloomberg, Brown would be open to approving a plan that would require only a simple majority vote. By Thursday, as reported by The Sacramento Bee, Brown insisted that he was continuing his negotiations with Republicans. According to the L.A. Times, Brown reported that the current budget discussions could ignite reform surrounding certain components of Proposition 13, such as the current rates for commercial property taxes.
The Sacramento Bee and the Contra Costa Times report that on Thursday, Republicans declared their willingness to allow for an election regarding the tax extensions if Democrats were willing to allow additional initiatives related to pension reform and spending caps. Republicans also stated their continued opposition to the bridge tax. Calpensions.org and The Sacramento Bee report of the continuing tension between Republicans and Democrats and how the placement of additional initiatives involving pension reform and spending caps might be a way for Brown to pass his budget proposal.
Besides the news surrounding the current budget negotiations, the most notable event this week occurred on Tuesday when State Controller John Chiang officially halted state legislators’ paychecks, as reported by the L.A. Times, The Sacramento Bee, the Thoughts on Public Education blog, and many other articles. In compliance with Proposition 25, Chiang intends to stop salary and per diem payments to state legislators until a balanced budget proposal is signed by the governor.
Education-Specific News
EdBudgetProject.org: California Watch reports of a new website from the New America Foundation that provides financial and academic information on K-12 schools and on colleges.
U.S. Secretary of Education willing to provide waivers from federal mandates if Congress fails to reauthorize NCLB: Last week, according to the SI&A Cabinet Report and the L.A. Times, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan stated that he would relieve state and local education agencies from federal mandates if the No Child Left Behind Act fails to be reauthorized by Congress. It is unclear how lenient Duncan will be, but at this point the action seems like a political move to capture Congress’s attention on NCLB. The Thoughts on Public Education blog details the specific implications for California and provides a link to Duncan’s press statement.
Teacher evaluation bill advances in state legislature: The SI&A Cabinet Report reports of the recent passage of AB 5 through the Senate Education Committee, a bill that would rely on student test scores as one of several new factors in evaluating teachers.
Summer a contributing factor to the achievement gap: California Watch explores a recent RAND report which states that low-income students tend to experience a decrease in their academic performance whilst higher-income students tend to experience an increase in their performance by the end of summer.
Redistricting Updates
In addition to all of the budget news last week, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released the first draft of their redistricting proposal to alter the boundaries of Congressional, Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts across California based on the results of the latest Census results. In addition to The Sacramento Bee, the KQED Capital Notes blog provides an article and a podcast to describe the overall effects of the new redistricting proposal by claiming that the new proposal allows for more competitive state and congressional districts. The Public Policy Institute of California has also confirmed the increase in the number of competitive seats in a recent report, as mentioned by The Contra Costa Times and The Sacramento Bee.
For more information about the Census results, be sure to check out the Census website. The California Census dataset can be found here.


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