CA Education Policy News Update

Jun 10th, 2011

CA Education Policy News Update

By: Mona Vakilifathi | 03:06 PM

Next week, June 15th marks the constitutional deadline for state leaders to pass the budget for the next fiscal year. Within the next week, as reported by The Press-Enterprise, state leaders are expected to pass a budget plan that will address the remaining $9.6 billion deficit. If these leaders fail to pass the budget by its deadline, this article also reports that state policymakers stand to lose their pay on a day-to-day basis starting on June 16th, until a balanced budget is passed.
 
Despite the approaching deadline, this article and the L.A. Times report that Democrats and Republicans are still in disagreement as to how the unexpected tax revenues should be spent and how the remaining deficit should be addressed through tax increases or further cuts in government spending. According to another L.A. Times article, The San Francisco Chronicle,  the Contra Costa Times, and The Sacramento Bee, the latest item of debate this past week has been that of funding state services temporarily until a special election regarding the tax extensions can take place in mid-September. Specifically, Brown has urged for tax extensions to be passed temporarily by legislators for three months until voters can vote whether to uphold the tax extensions for the next five years. Republicans, on the other hand, disagree with any short-term tax extension and would approve of a tax extension only if it were approved by voters in the fall election. In response to the Republican legislators’ position, The San Francisco Chronicle reports in another article that Brown has been trying to push forward with pension reform and other Republican-friendly legislation, and The Sacramento Bee reports that other Democrats have been declaring the possibility of an all-cuts budget. According to several of these aforementioned articles, Democrats only need four Republican votes, two votes in each house, to pass the budget. Overall, as the Thoughts on Public Education blog reports, this disagreement and the lack of a balanced budget could lead to great cuts (or at least a great disruption in funding) in all education services and all other state services.
 
As of now, as reported by the SI&A Cabinet Report and the Contra Costa Times, the Democrats approved the majority of Brown’s budget plan and released their own revised budget plan to both houses on Wednesday. According to The Sacramento Bee, both the Assembly and the Senate are holding hearings today to discuss these budget plans, but an official vote has not been organized just yet.
 
California Citizens Redistricting Commission Releases First Draft of Redistricting Maps on June 10th
 
According to The San Francisco Chronicle and the KQED Capital Notes blog, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission is set to release its first draft of the redistricting proposal this morning. The Sacramento Bee provides a reflective piece regarding the purpose and accomplishments of the Commission.
 
Education-Specific News
 
SB 204 – Changing California’s Education Governance Structure: The SI&A Cabinet Report and Capitol Weekly report on the progress of a new bill, SB 204, that would alter California’s education governance system by providing the Superintendent of Public Instruction with governing authority over the Department of Education and the state’s education policy and services while positioning the State Board of Education in more of an advisory role to the Legislature, the Governor, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. As of now, SB 204 has passed through the Senate.
 
U.S. Supreme Court Rejects AB 540 Appeal: The L.A. Times and the Thoughts on Public Education blog report that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to contest AB 540. For the most part, AB 540 is a California law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay an in-state college tuition rate at the California Community College and the California State University systems if they have attended a high school in California for three or more years, graduated from a California high school, and are registered to attend a higher education institution in California.
 
Latest High School Graduation Rates: California Watch and the Thoughts on Public Education blog report that despite a rise in high school graduation rates, a large high school dropout rate remains among schools in California.
 
California Joins SBAC: This week, California switched from one consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), according to the SI&A Cabinet Report and the Education Week Curriculum Matters blog. These two consortiums are composed of different states and have different methods of developing national standardized assessments to replace the current state-based standardized assessment system in the United States. According to these articles, California’s leaders were interested in the change because of their interest in reducing the number of state standardized exams and increasing the efficiency and use of test data.
 
Continued Coverage of Education Finance Reform: In addition to a recent PACE blog post by Dr. Jennifer Imazeki, California Watch and Capitol Weekly have also provided reports regarding the progress of AB 18 and other bills in Sacramento, the current education finance conditions in California, and how much these current legislative efforts could help address the financial disparities among California’s school districts.
 
Want more information about any of these stories or about a story that was not reported in this post? Feel free to leave a request in the “Comments” section below.