What’s Happening in PTA? March 2021 Edition

Please find below a listing of California State PTA’s March training and advocacy opportunities for our leaders and members. We hope you will join us for some of these offerings:

Tuesday, March 2 How to Hold a Virtual Election

Are you wondering how to hold your election meeting via Zoom? Our California State PTA Leadership Team is going to have a mock election meeting on March 2nd at 7:00 p.m. to help our units navigate their upcoming elections.  You must register for this event by clicking on the link. You won’t want to miss it!

Click here to register:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScdaUwqxIxAteiuxN62quI24hyMy4IlS_34RFAN9di7c_rxLw/viewform?usp=sf_link

Wednesday, March 3 Legislation Webinar

Join the California State PTA Legislation Team for their monthly webinar from 7-8 p.m. Get all of the updates on our advocacy efforts at the state and national level including: federal and state Covid relief packages and how they help families as well as bills we have taken a position on that are currently before the legislature. 

Click here to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/31940121174953740

Thursday, March 4: Social Media Kit Reveal 

Join our Communications Team at 7:00 p.m. as we reveal the March kit themed “Recruitment.” We know you are always looking for great volunteers – whether it’s to serve on the executive board, to chair an event, or simply to help out for an hour.  Attendees will not only hear about the kit and hear some exciting information about the Create CA Public Will campaign’s new social media resources, but they will also get access to our Canva templates to customize our images.

Click here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84963519701?pwd=L2hwOWNSK1ZmSHg0c0xpSnNmTjQ2dz09 

March 9-11 National PTA Legislation Conference While our Leg Conference was last month, National’s is this month. There is still time to register if you click here: https://www.pta.org/home/events/National-PTA-Legislative-Conference
Tuesday, March 23: Leadership Monthly Meeting

Join Vice President of Leadership Maria Steck and the Leadership Commission from 7-8:30 p.m. for another amazing night of training for you and your officers.

Click here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85295905223 

Wednesday, March 24: Information Session for New Board of Managers Applicants

Have you ever wanted to serve on the California State Board of Managers?  If so, we are having an information night with our President-Elect Carol Green to give you information and answer your questions from 6-8:00 p.m.

Click here to join: https://zoom.us/j/93360004665?pwd=L2tsYlBRdzJ4SlVIcWIxeHFwSFlGQT09

Wednesday, March 24: School Smarts Informational Webinar

Learn more about bringing the new virtual School Smarts program to your school by attending this informational webinar at 10:00 a.m.

Click here to register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ud–vrzooG9xFT1InbU49qv3xlEbI93Ct

 

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Preventing School Absenteeism: What Parents Need to Know

Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or greater of the total number of days enrolled during the school year for any reason. It includes both excused, unexcused, out-of-school suspensions, and in-school suspensions that last more than one-half of the school day.

Chronic absenteeism means missing too much school—for any reason—excused or unexcused. Experts and a growing number of states define chronic absenteeism as missing 10% (or around 18 days) during a school year).

Students are chronically absent for many reasons. There are some reasons for absenteeism that cannot be avoided. Life happens. Common illness causing high fevers and fatigue happen. But, if your child is missing many days of school, or a few days every single month, it’s important to consider the reason for the absenteeism.

  • A nationwide study found that kids with ADHD, autism, or developmental delays are twice as likely to be chronically absent compared to kids without these conditions.
  • Children with common chronic illnesses, such as asthma and type 1 diabetes, miss more school when they are having more symptoms.
  • Mental health conditions, like anxiety or depression, are common reasons for absences.
  • Up to 5% of children have school-related anxiety and may create reasons why they should not go or outright refuse to attend school.

Add it all up, and this creates a lot of empty desks and missed school time.

Missing just two days a month of school―for any reason― can be a problem for kids in a number of ways. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. For older students, being chronically absent is strongly associated with failing at school―even more than low grades or test scores. When absences add up, these students are more likely to be suspended and drop out of high school. Chronic absenteeism is also linked with teen substance use, as well as poor health as adults.

10 PRACTICAL TIPS TO GETTING YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL ON TIME, EVERY DAY

  1. Set attendance goals with your child and track your child’s attendance on a calendar. Try offering small rewards for not missing any school, such as a later bedtime on weekends.
  2. Help your child get a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep is associated with lower school achievement starting in middle school, as well as higher numbers of missed school and tardiness. Most younger children need 10-12 hours per night and adolescents (13-18 years of age) need 8-10 hours per night.
  3. Prep the night before to streamline your morning. Lay out your child’s clothes. Pack backpacks and lunches. Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up like a missed bus or an early meeting. Have a family member, a neighbor, or another trusted adult on standby to take your child to school should you ever need help.
  4. Try to schedule dental or medical appointments before or after school hours. If children have to miss school for medical appointments, have them return immediately afterward so they do not miss the entire day.
  5. Schedule extended trips during school breaks. This helps your child stay caught up in school learning and sets the expectation for your child to be in school during the school year. Even in elementary school, missing a week of classes can set your child behind on learning.
  6. Don’t let your child stay home unless he or she is truly sick. Reasons to keep your child home from school include a temperature greater than 101 degrees, vomiting, diarrhea, a hacking cough, or a toothache. Keep in mind, complaints of frequent stomachaches or headaches can be a sign of anxiety and may not be a reason to stay home.
  7. Talk with your child about the reasons why he or she does not want to go to school. School-related anxiety can lead to school avoidance. Talk to your child about their symptoms and try to get them to talk about any emotional struggles they may have with issues like bullying, fear of failure, or actual physical harm. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, talk with your pediatrician, your child’s teacher, or school counselor.
  8. If your child has a chronic health issue such as asthma, allergies, or seizures, talk with your pediatrician about developing a school action plan. Meet with and get to know the nurse at your child’s school. If you need guidance and documentation for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan, ask for your pediatrician’s help accessing services at school.
  9. Follow the rules. Be sure you know what your school’s requirements are for when your child will be absent or late. If you are supposed to call, email, or provide a doctor’s note after a certain number of days out, then do it.
  10. Keep track of your child’s attendance and investigate reasons when the days missed add up. Look into why your child is absent. Think about your child’s mood. Have they been spending time by themself lately? Is their chronic condition starting to be more problematic?

For more information: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/school/Pages/School-Attendance-Truancy-Chronic-Absenteeism.aspx

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness) is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading a message of hope, and putting lifesaving resources into the hands of those in need.

Every Body Has a Seat at the Table. In a field where marginalized communities continue to be underrepresented, conversations on raising awareness, challenging systemic biases, and sharing stories from all backgrounds and experiences are welcomed.

For more information and to build a movement to raise awareness and support those affected by eating disorders, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness

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What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are mental health conditions marked by an obsession with food or body shape.  They can affect anyone but are most prevalent among young women.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders may be caused by several factors including genetics, brain biology, personality traits, and cultural ideals.

  • One factor is genetics. Twin and adoption studies involving twins who were separated at birth and adopted by different families provide some evidence that eating disorders may be hereditary. This type of research has generally shown that if one twin develops an eating disorder, the other has a 50% likelihood of developing one too.
  • Personality traits are another cause. In particular, neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity are three personality traits often linked to a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.
  • Other potential causes include perceived pressures to be thin, cultural preferences for thinness, and exposure to media promoting such ideals. Certain eating disorders appear to be mostly nonexistent in cultures that haven’t been exposed to Western ideals of thinness.
  • More recently, experts have proposed that differences in brain structure and biology may also play a role in the development of eating disorders.

Neuroticism: Defined as a tendency toward anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.

Perfectionism: Defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, or even to believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection. It is typically viewed as a positive trait rather than a flaw

Impulsivity: Defined as a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders

Common Types of Eating Disorders and their Symptoms

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa may limit their food intake or compensate for it through various purging behaviors. They have an intense fear of gaining weight, even when severely underweight.  Many people with anorexia are often preoccupied with constant thoughts about food, and some may obsessively collect recipes or hoard food.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition characterized by obsessions which lead to compulsive behaviors. People often double check to make sure they’ve locked the front door or always wear their lucky socks on game days.  OCD goes beyond double checking something or practicing a game day ritual.  Someone diagnosed with OCD feels compelled to act out certain rituals repeatedly, even if they don’t want to — and even if it complicates their life unnecessarily.

Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa eat large amounts of food in short periods of time, then purge. They fear gaining weight despite being at a normal weight.  Bulimia tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood and appears to be less common among men than women.

Binge Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorder regularly and uncontrollably consume large amounts of food in short periods of time.  Unlike people with other eating disorders, they do not purge.

Binge eating disorder is believed to be one of the most common eating disorders, especially in the United States.  It typically begins during adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later on.  Individuals with this disorder have symptoms similar to those of bulimia or the binge eating subtype of anorexia.

Pica

Individuals with pica tend to crave and eat non-food substances. This disorder may particularly affect children, pregnant women, and individuals with mental disabilities.  Individuals with pica crave non-food substances, such as ice, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, pebbles, laundry detergent, or cornstarch.  Individuals with pica may be at an increased risk of poisoning, infections, gut injuries, and nutritional deficiencies.  Depending on the substances ingested, pica may be fatal.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder can affect people at all stages of life.  People with the condition generally regurgitate the food they’ve recently swallowed.  Then, they chew it again and either swallow it or spit it out.  This disorder can develop during infancy, childhood, or adulthood. In infants, it tends to develop between 3–12 months of age and often disappears on its own. Children and adults with the condition usually require therapy to resolve it.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder that causes people to undereat.  This is either due to a lack of interest in food or an intense distaste for how certain foods look, smell, or taste.   Although ARFID generally develops during infancy or early childhood, it can persist into adulthood. What’s more, it’s equally common among men and women. Individuals with this disorder experience disturbed eating either due to a lack of interest in eating or distaste for certain smells, tastes, colors, textures, or temperatures.

Purging disorder

Individuals with purging disorder often use purging behaviors, such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or excessive exercising, to control their weight or shape. However, they do not binge.

 Night eating syndrome

Individuals with this syndrome frequently eat excessively, often after awakening from sleep.

For more information on eating disorders:

https://www.healthline.com/health/ocd/social-signs#ocpd-vs-ocd

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/eating-disorders/what-are-eating-disorders

Leg Con 2021 Wrap-Up: Bringing Equity to California Public Schools

This article was written by Kitty Cahalan, President of Blair School PTSA in Pasadena (First District)

“A Path to Equity” was the focus of this year’s Legislation Conference, which I attended as a local PTA leader and advocate, but also as the parent of two public high school students. Bringing equity to California public schools has long challenged our educational leaders, and the pandemic has highlighted vast inequities in the system and left millions of California students more disadvantaged than ever. From access to mental health care and meals to the widening of a vast digital divide, the conference underscored that the prospect of getting students back on track is daunting. Far from being pessimistic, however, the conference presented information and opportunities that we as parents and PTA advocates can use to disrupt ineffective old practices and bring public education into a new era in which all are included and empowered, and in which the needs of all are seen and addressed.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond opened the conference and focused on restorative justice and increased digital access and literacy as examples of measures needed at the state level to increase inclusiveness and access for all students. President Celia Jaffe shared CAPTA’s ten recommendations for the timely and safe reopening of schools. Director of Legislation Shereen Walter shared CAPTA’s legislative agenda and the critical need for “our collective voices to influence legislation and the state budget to improve equity, access, and opportunity for all of California’s children.” Then, National PTA President-Elect Anna King shared her personal stories of witnessing how racial and economic inequities affected her own children, injustices which led directly to her involvement in PTA and her work to bring a collective voice on behalf of all children to our nation’s leaders and educational decision-makers. This was a powerful start to the conference.

Equity best practices were discussed in sessions about equity in the arts, community schools, and schools as incubators for democracy.

  • Tom DeCaigny, California Alliance for Arts Education, stated that even though the arts are shown to be effective for development of motor skills, a powerful educational tool for students with disabilities, and are mandated by the state, arts education implementation continues to fall short in districts throughout the state. DeCaigny identified PTA as a key messenger and urged coordinated messaging for the arts, especially during remote learning.
  • Michael Essien, a middle school principal, shared how adherence to the school’s North Stars – whole child, student voice, belonging and rigorous education – combined with ongoing staff training in implicit bias, as well as community partners to bring tiered interventions to students, helped the school meet students and their families where they are. When students feel healthy, safe, and included, he said, they will be ready to learn.
  • John Rogers, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) examined mission statements and LCAPs from districts across the state, looking for indicators that districts consider themselves responsible for the civic education of their students, and found very few districts include keywords such as “democracy” and “civic participation.” Rogers encouraged participants to consider their school districts’ role in furthering democracy and to encourage students to learn how to participate in their communities’ civic lives.

Each of these speakers gave clear, actionable information for the advocates in attendance to use to further the call for equity.

The news on the budget front was encouraging, as California has an unexpected budget surplus. Budget experts discussed the state government’s priorities: addressing the digital divide, helping students who have been the most affected by the pandemic catch up, and providing for an increase in mental health services. Many of these allocations will come in the form of one-time funds and will challenge districts to rapidly deploy services to our most at-risk students. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, pushing for the additional revenue to go to education, especially early childhood education. He said that PTA is best positioned among all advocacy groups to disrupt the layers of abstraction between what is decided in Sacramento and what is happening on school campuses. He challenged us to communicate specifically what is needed in schools. Brooks Allen, Education Policy Advisor to the Governor, made clear the breadth of the challenge – nearly two-thirds of the state’s students, about 3.7 million children, come from economically disadvantaged homes – and the state must focus on these students or the additional funds will not have the impact we wish to see.

The theme of equity echoed throughout the conference: access, inclusive approaches, and listening to all the voices in our communities. Our path toward equity requires that our local and state leaders share a coherent, unified message that puts the needs of the most vulnerable first. Not only was this message shared in multiple legislative meetings, but PTA participants left the conference with the tools to continue to forge this path forward for our students.

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What’s Happening in PTA? February 2021 Edition

Please find below a listing of California State PTA’s February training and advocacy opportunities for our leaders and members. We hope you will join us for some of these offerings:

Thursday, February 7: Social Media Kit Reveal 

Join our Communications Team at 7:00 p.m. as we reveal the February kit themed “Family Engagement.”  

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84963519701?pwd=L2hwOWNSK1ZmSHg0c0xpSnNmTjQ2dz09 

Tuesday, February 23: Leadership Monthly Meeting

Join Vice President of Leadership Maria Steck and the Leadership Commission at 7:00 p.m. as they discuss pertinent topics and answer your questions.  

Click here to register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc6ojfk0cdPN4Y-N8OqyOcKXP1uBq_D7SFbqpT1o93uyPDnqA/viewform

Tuesday, February 23: School Smarts Informational Webinar

Learn more about bringing the new virtual School Smarts program to your school by attending this informational webinar at 4:00 p.m.

Click here to register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcodeChpj8rE9XA_prRIrm0qiMASh7LGezg

 

To return to the blog homepage, click here.

10 Things California State PTA Recommends for the Safe Reopening of Schools

It’s been almost a year since California closed school campuses. And you know who is counting? Parents, teachers, and students are counting each day with growing frustration. The California State PTA shares that angst.

Not only are children falling behind academically but the social isolation and fears of illness and death are taking an enormous toll on their emotional health.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction have included the California State PTA in discussions dealing with the pandemic. We thank them for including the input of parents. This includes representation on the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee, the school reopening task force, statewide testing plans committee, as well as meetings with state officials. PTA held statewide listening sessions to gather the thoughts of parents throughout the state on pandemic related issues, and we continue to hear from parents, students and teachers across California.

Ten Recommendations

We urge the Legislature and the Governor to adopt 10 recommendations for the timely and safe reopening of schools:

1. Coordinate Efforts The Legislature and the Governor must agree on a coordinated approach to reopening schools as quickly as safely possible.

2. Equitable Sufficient Funding There must be sufficient funding to cover the additional costs related to opening schools in person. And it must be equitable. All students should generate the same base funding grant with an LCFF adjustment that recognizes the impacts of the pandemic on disadvantaged students. Opening schools will require social emotional support for students and staff, and services to meet students’ and families’ needs including safe transportation for students.

3. Extra Funding for Health-Related Costs Funding to pay for testing, vaccines, contact tracing, and other COVID-related health costs should not be from Proposition 98 funds. Every Proposition 98 dollar spent on non-instructional costs is one less dollar to educate our children.

4. Protect the Health and Wellbeing of Students, Staff and Families The Governor, the Legislature and local governments must prioritize vaccinations for school staff, early childhood educators and childcare staff, especially those who are already working in-person.

5. Parent Communication and Input School districts must provide opportunities for robust input and feedback as they prepare and execute reopening plans. They must ensure parents representing the diversity of the community are included in decision-making.

6. In-Person Attendance Parents and families should be able to choose whether a child returns to school in-person depending on the health of the child and their family situation.

7. Mental Health Matters Support the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff by providing adequate resources to support their individual needs. To protect student health and well-being, middle schools should not start before 8:00 am and high schools before 8:30 am.

8. Expanded Learning and Learning Loss Afterschool, summer school and childcare programs need to be available, fully funded and coordinated with the school day. All schools should develop programs to address learning loss and meet the needs of the whole child.

9. Follow Health Guidelines Schools should not open in person unless it is safe for students and staff. School districts should adhere to the requirements set forth by the California Department of Public Health and county health departments regarding the reopening of schools.

10. Realistic Timeline Any timeline for the reopening of schools should consider the needs of parents and teachers and respect the most accurate health guidelines. This includes making sure the school facility is safe for re-opening.

Schools need to open as soon as practically possible while protecting the health and well-being of students, staff and families. California’s students are counting on the Legislature and the Governor to come up with a realistic school reopening plan that meets the needs of all our school communities.

This piece was written by Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA

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How Is California’s Education Budget Created?

The California State budget is complex, to say the least. How do we, as parents, help to understand it especially as it relates to education funding?  Our own former State President, Carol Kocivar, wrote the following article for Ed100 last week to help us understand. Click here to read it on the Ed100 website.

Every year, California creates a budget for public education. How does that work, actually? Who creates and influences it, and when are the decisions made? How can you get involved and have an influence?

…and how has the Pandemic changed things?

The Basics

We’ll get to the Governor’s budget proposal for 2021-22 in a moment, but first let’s back up a little. Generally speaking, how much money does education get in the state budget, and what money is and isn’t included in that budget?

The state operates on a fiscal year that begins each July. In January, the governor proposes a state budget based on a forecast of how much the state will take in through taxes. Most of the taxes collected are accounted as part of the state’s General Fund, which next year will weigh in at about $158 billion according to the state Legislative Analyst Office (LAO). Other portions of the budget are forecast to bring the state’s total to about $220 billion.

The portion of the of the general fund that goes to K-12 schools and public community colleges each year is determined by formulas that voters enshrined in the state constitution by passing Proposition 98. Oversimplifying a lot, this formula usually requires that about 40% of the state General Fund should go to education. The formula includes many factors, including how well the economy is doing, whether there are more or fewer kids in public school, and changes in the cost of living.

In theory, the legislature can allocate more of the general fund to education than this formula requires. In practice, it rarely does so. The governor’s proposed budget for 2021-22 allocated about 36% to education, directing funds to coronavirus relief.

What funds are not included in the General Fund?

Although the state General Fund is the biggest source of funding for California’s K-12 education system, there are two other significant sources to know about. Property taxes usually amount to somewhat less than a quarter of the money for K-12 education. Federal funds usually amount to about less than a tenth.

Education Budgets in the Pandemic

The Pandemic disrupted education funding. Unlike the federal government, which routinely operates at a deficit, California is obligated by its constitution to balance its budget every year… at least on paper. Last year, the state budgeted for the worst case scenario. It hoped that the federal government would come to the rescue to avoid cuts and help balance the budget. When that didn’t happen, the state delayed payments to school districts, essentially borrowing from them by writing IOUs (deferrals) instead of checks.

Although 2020 brought plenty of hardship, the worst predictions for the economy and the stock market did not come to pass. Stocks advanced to new highs, supporting record tax receipts. In January 2021 the state Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) reported that total taxes collected in the months following the shelter in place order exceeded expectations by 22%.

In 2019-20, average spending per K-12 student in California grew to more than $17,000, of which about $12,000 was state “Proposition 98” funding. Education expenditures in 2020-21 were supported by the first federal relief package for COVID-19. Responding to the Pandemic involved significant new expenses for districts, which had to provide for distance learning. The real impact of the Pandemic on spending per student will take time to work out.

How is the education share of the budget divided?

As discussed above, at the state level the amount of money coming into the education budget each year is mainly determined by the whims of the economy, filtered through the rules of Prop 98. Distribution of money from the state to school districts is less whimsical.

Based on rules known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), funds are mostly allocated to districts based on the number of students who show up to school in each grade level. To a lesser extent, the allocation is adjusted according to the characteristics of students. As described in Lesson 8.5, under LCFF districts receive extra funds to support students in poverty and students learning English. Federal law requires districts to ensure that the targeted funds are used in support of the targeted students.

Federal and state laws also require public schools to provide for the education of children with special education needs, and both the state and the federal government provide district categorical (targeted) funding to support it. It is not enough. Local school districts have to meet their special education funding obligations by taking money out of their LCFF funding.

As discussed in Ed100 Lesson 2.7, districts are generally expected to shoulder the extra costs as part of their obligation to educate all children. The Governor’s 2021-22 budget includes additional state funds to support special education programs, particularly for early childhood interventions.

The Budget Process

Here is the big picture: Throughout the first half of the year, committee hearings examine both the budget itself and education bills that might have an impact on the budget. Each of these pathways is a little different. (The nonprofit California Budget & Policy Center does a great job of explaining the distinction between these two paths.)

By January 10, the Governor officially kicks off the budget process by proposing a budget with support from the state Department of Finance. Budget committees in the Senate and Assembly consider the Governor’s proposed budget as a whole. Subcommittees in the Senate and Assembly separately examine the proposed budget for education. These hearings are open to the public. When agendas are set, you can find them online.

After the Governor releases the proposed budget, advocates react, shoring up support for the parts they favor and scrambling to make adjustments.

In January of 2021, the Pandemic led to accelerated budget actions. In ordinary years, the budget process involves more dialogue than action in the months following the governor’s proposal. In 2021, however, as the federal government failed to come to consensus about a package for economic relief, Governor Newsom urged the legislature to take action. Specifically, he proposed that California expedite disbursement of $14 billion “to provide immediate relief for individuals and small businesses disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the safe reopening of schools and for extended learning time, and investment in strategies for creating quality jobs.”

By May 14, the Governor releases a revised budget, reflecting more up-to-date financial information. (You guessed it, it’s called the May Revise). In normal times, this revision is based on early data about income tax receipts. In 2020, the federal tax deadline was delayed to June, so there was less data to go on. Separately, the Budget Committees of the Senate and Assembly also each adopt their version of the budget. A conference committee irons out differences between these versions.

By June 15, the Senate and Assembly leaders huddle with the Governor to hash out the final details and pass a balanced budget by a majority vote of both houses. If the process gets stuck and they don’t pass a budget on time, legislators are not paid, based on an initiative passed in 2010 after a series of budget delays.

On July 1, the state begins the new fiscal year. Between the passage of the budget by the legislature and July 1 the Governor may cut specific expenditures using line-item vetos. This is rare. In 2020 is was used once.

Education Policy Bills: A Parallel Process

At the same time as the main budget bills are in the works, the Senate Education and Assembly Education committees consider policy bills that affect education. Some policy bills approved by these committees involve money. If a bill requires significant money, it must survive passage through the Senate Appropriations or the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Many bills die in these committees because the cost is too high.

The budget bill is adopted by July 1, but education policy bills continue the legislative process through the summer. Similar to the federal process, after a bill passes one house, it must then go to the other for consideration. (The adopted budget may be revised a bit, with the Governor’s approval, to include funding in these adopted bills.)

Legislation is often a multi-year process. If a bill fails at first, it may have set the stage for further discussion of the issue the next year.

How You Can Get Involved

That’s why you are reading this, right? You want to know how you can get informed and have some say in the budget process.

Get Informed. Throughout the development of the budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office provides detailed information and analysis. You can sign up to be notified whenever there is a new report. Separately, the California Department of Finance offers information on the current Governor’s budget, as well as budget information from past years.

As bills work their way through the legislative process, you can find information about them on the state’s “Leg Info” page (it’s pronounced “ledge info”).

Support an organization’s voice. Some education organizations take positions on bills under consideration, and may or may not make those positions public. For example, you can find current positions of the California State PTA online. Other vocal advocates include the California Charter Schools Association and the California Teachers Association.

Participate in public comment. The legislative process includes opportunities for public comment. Agendas are posted online. The California Senate and the California Assembly provide live webcasts of legislative hearings. The Senate and Assembly committees have staff members who take their work seriously and may be able to help provide more information about legislation.

Meet with your legislator. Legislators welcome contact with their constituents; why not set up a meeting with the office of your legislator to discuss an issue you care about? Frequently, you will be directed to the staff person who is responsible for education issues.

For more information on the budget process in greater detail visit https://ed100.org/lessons/support

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Book Club Discussion: “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein

Our Legislation Team decided that a book club would be a good way to begin discussions around race, equity, inclusion and justice. They created a list of books dealing with these topics and began to read down the list. To read more about this process, please read our previous blog post about the book club. 

Today we are going to share the resources and study questions from the book The Color of Law, by historian Richard Rothstein. In The Color of Law, Rothstein lays out the history of de jure segregation. Laws and policies were enacted and enforced at the local, state and federal level that promoted discriminatory housing practices. The result of these laws and policies not only created the segregated communities we now have, they are a primary cause of the wealth gap we see today between whites and African Americans in the United States as whites were able to take advantage of wealth building in homes whose value has soared over the decades. Rothstein argues that racial segregation is the deliberate product of “systemic and forceful” government action, and so the government has a “constitutional as well as a moral obligation” to remedy it.

Discussion Questions:*

    1. What surprised you as you read The Color of Law? Was this history known to you?  
    2. What do you know about your own community and your local zoning policies during the 20th century? How segregated or integrated is your community? What would it look like if your community were required to have its “fair share” of middle-class, minority and low- and moderate-income housing?
    3. Textbooks typically used in middle and high schools don’t describe government’s role in creating residential racial segregation.  Rothstein writes, “If young people are not taught an accurate account of how we came to be segregated, their generation will have little chance of doing a better job of desegregating than the previous ones.”  What can each of us do in our own communities to change how this history is taught in our schools?
    4. Chapter 8 example: How did you feel about the several cases where people tried to do the right thing and failed because of the way the system of laws and policies and pressure worked to keep racial segregation? How did reading about this history of racial segregation make you feel?
    5. The impact of government-sponsored segregation has had tragic consequences and impacted generation wealth for African Americans.  Some think that the government should concentrate on improving conditions in low-income communities, not try to help their residents move to middle-class areas. They say that easing the movement of minority and low-income families to predominantly white neighborhoods will meet much resistance. Yet others say that low-income communities have too little political influence to ensure follow-through in attempts to improve conditions in segregated minority neighborhoods. What are your thoughts? Can we fulfill our ideals as a democratic society if it is only more equal but not integrated?
    6. Difficulty of Undoing Residential Segregation
      – The multigenerational nature of economic mobility
      – The substantial appreciation of homes created a large racial wealth gap
      – The substantial appreciation of homes means homes are now unaffordable to many African-Americans
      – The mortgage interest deduction increased subsidies to higher-income suburban owners
      Should we and how can we remedy residential segregation?  What are your ideas for making change?
    7. We typically expect to understand two sides of a story.  Is there anything missing from The Color of Law that might modify its argument?
    8. After reading The Color of Law, a young African-American high school graduate sent an e-mail to the author:
      “As I was growing up, I looked at the racial segregation and accepted it as how it has always been and will be; I equated white neighborhoods with affluence and black neighborhoods with poverty. I didn’t think about the major role the government had in hindering the equity accumulation of African-Americans. I think I ingrained this inferiority complex and that is why I did not excel in school as much as I could have.”
      What is your reaction?

* In our one hour and forty-five minute session we were not able to get through all eight questions.  

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What’s Happening in PTA? January 2021 Edition

As the new calendar year begins, California State PTA continues to offer training and advocacy opportunities for our leaders and members.  We hope you will join us for some of our offerings:

Date Event Details
Wednesday, January 6: School Smarts Distance Session 5: Becoming an Effective Communicator

Join our School Smarts Team as they give you a preview of Session 5, “Becoming an Effective Communicator” at 4 p.m. If you would like to attend, please use this link to register:  

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEpdO-orDstGNxcyVSyqjNhJRA0MCggmXdo 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the meeting.

Advocacy Webinar

Join California State PTA Director of Legislation Shereen Walter and members of the Legislation Team during our monthly webinar, where we discuss all the latest information.

The webinars take place from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/31940121174953740 

Thursday, January 7: Social Media Kit Reveal 

Join our Communications Team at 7 p.m. as we reveal the January kit themed “Advocacy for #AllChildren.”  

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84963519701?pwd=L2hwOWNSK1ZmSHg0c0xpSnNmTjQ2dz09 

Wednesday, January 13: School Smarts Distance Session #6: “Standing Up for a Quality Education”

Join our School Smarts Team as they give you a preview of Session 6, “Standing up for a Quality Education” at 4 p.m. If you would like to attend, please use this link to register:  https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsdOqqqzIuEtdTXR_EMjA9D4WM7xdSh1qj 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the meeting.

Legislation Conference Facebook Live event

Join us at 7 p.m. for a Facebook Live where the Leg Team will answer all of your questions about the upcoming conference entitled “A Path to Equity.” 

https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaPTA 

Tuesday, January 19: Electronic Membership Webinar

Join California State PTA and representatives from TOTEM, our electronic membership system, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. to learn you can leverage all TOTEM’s great features to support and grow your PTA’s membership in 2021. Click here to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pT26rZkIRk2ue7K_56fhvw.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the meeting.

Wednesday, January 20: School Smarts Distance Session 7: “Take Action & Celebrate”

Join our School Smarts Team as they give you a preview of Session 7, “Taking Action & Celebrate” at 4 p.m.  If you would like to attend, please use this link to register:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAqf-2pqTgoHtXhzawS6rt5tJYo9NcoBEPP 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the meeting.

January 25, 25, 28 “Listening Sessions” on Race & Racism

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of California State PTA is excited to host three Zoom “listening sessions” this month around race, racism and PTA. We want to hear from our members of color, in order for our organization to begin to improve the PTA experience. We aim to listen to your authentic voices to help guide us in making all our members feel included, valued, and respected.

If you are interested in participating, please click here for more information on the types of attendees we are seeking, and who to contact to apply.

Tuesday, January 26: Leadership Monthly Meeting

Join Vice President of Leadership Maria Steck and the Leadership Commission as they discuss pertinent topics and answer your questions.  

Click here to register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeP58gUBc_V0-wSPsOzPxICp9mosu-BvTNihTBWj0bR6FJe0Q/viewform

 

Friday, January 29: School Smarts Informational Webinar

Learn more about bringing the new virtual School Smarts program to your school by attending this informational webinar at 9:00 am.

Click here to register: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYrd-ihrDosE92ihWEb3jhIE3ewppRwUQOn.