California State PTA positions on education bills

by California State PTA Legislation Advocates  Anita Avrick, Melanie Lucas and Beth Meyerhoff

California State PTA supported nine education bills that were signed into law this year.  These laws range from classroom air quality and school drinking water to support for diverse student populations and students with special needs.

The Legislation Team reads hundreds of bills a year. The Legislation Action Committee then meets monthly between January and June to discuss and take positions on bills that fulfill our Mission Statement to “positively impact the lives of all children and families.” Read the full report of legislative actions taken by the California State PTA on our website

During the 2021-2022 year, the Education advocates researched many bills affecting K-12 public school education, based on our authorities, which consist of our legislative planks, resolutions, and position statements

These bills proceeded through the full legislative process and reached Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.

Education Bills signed into law

  • Assembly Bill 1467 (Cervantes) ensures that sexual assault and domestic violence survivors on college campuses will have access to confidential advocates. By ensuring that counselors are independent from the Title IX office, counselors have sufficient autonomy to focus on the needs and decisions of the survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, including any action against schools. Counselors would need to obtain specific permission from a victim before disclosing their identity to the university or any other authority including law enforcement, unless otherwise required to do so by applicable state or federal law. This provision enables them to maintain confidentiality when interacting with survivors of sexual assault.
  • Assembly Bill 1703 (Ramos) would establish the California Indian Education Act and encourage school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces with California tribes local to their regions or tribes historically located in the region. See blog post on: April 17, 2022.
  • Assembly Bill 1868 (Rivas) requires English learner growth and achievement data, including California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress and other assessment data, to be properly collected and uploaded to the California Department of Education’s (CDE) website for the public to view. With this information, the state can appropriately identify students’ needs, and enact policy changes to increase their ability to succeed in school.
  • Assembly Bill 2232 (McCarty) will improve classroom air quality by requiring that the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in a covered school meets certain minimum ventilation requirements. A covered school is defined as a school district, a county office of education, a charter school, a private school, the California Community Colleges, or the California State University. The bill would also require a covered school, and request the University of California, to install filtration that achieves specified minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV) levels, determined by the school to be feasible with the existing HVAC system, as provided. The bill would require, upon the next triennial update of the California Building Standards Code, the California Building Standards Commission and the Division of the State Architect to research, develop, and propose for adoption mandatory standards for carbon dioxide monitors in classrooms of a covered school and the University of California.
  • Assembly Bill 2508 (Quirk-Silva) urges the governing board of a school district to provide access to a comprehensive educational counseling program for all pupils enrolled in the school district. The bill requires educational counseling to also include certain postsecondary services and revises and recasts those areas that educational counseling is required to include. The bill revises the definition of  “educational counseling” for these purposes.
  • Assembly Bill 2598 (Weber) would require the State Department of Education to develop evidence-based best practices for restorative justice practice implementation on a school campus and to make these best practices available on the department’s internet website on or before June 1, 2024, as specified. These practices are part of efforts to improve campus culture and climate. In developing best practices, the department is tasked with consulting with a variety of groups to identify best practices for effective, evidence-based restorative justice practices in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Assembly Bill 2638 (Bloom) will ensure that every California public K-12 student, teacher and staff member has access to free, safe and appealing drinking water by requiring the installation of easily accessible water-bottle filling stations in schools.
  • Senate Bill 291 (Stern) gives our special needs students a stronger voice in our state government. This bill increases the number of members on the Advisory Commission on Special Education to 19 and requires the commission to appoint two pupils with exceptional needs, between 16 and 22 years of age, to the commission for a term of one year. The Advisory Commission on Special Education advises the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Legislature, and the Governor in new or continuing areas of research, program development, and evaluation in special education.
  • Senate Bill 692  (Cortese) requires the State Department of Education to add an existing federal inclusion indicator to the state accountability dashboard to expand awareness of inclusive options for students with disabilities. This indicator will be added on or before November 30, 2023.

Bills not signed into law by Governor Newsom

  • Senate Bill 70 (Rubio) would have made completion of Kindergarten a mandatory requirement for entering first grade. 
  • Assembly Bill 1973 (McCarty) would have required a school district or charter school that offers a kindergarten program, to provide a minimum of one class that offers a minimum school day for kindergarten that is at least equivalent to the minimum school day provided for grades 1 to 3. The bill would have been phased in beginning in 2027-28. 

Bills that did not reach Governor Newsom’s desk

Although the bills listed below did not proceed through the full legislative process to reach Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk and were not signed into law, California State PTA continues to support the issues these bills address.

Assembly Bill 2465 (Bonta) would have created the Family and Community Literacy: Supporting Literacy and Biliteracy in Schools, Families, and Communities Grant Program to support the goal of all of California’s pupils reading at grade level by third grade and engaging families at every stage of that process. The bill would have awarded competitive grants from the California Family Literacy Innovation Project to local educational agencies.  Student literacy remains a high priority for California State PTA. Our California State PTA Resolution, Literacy Education, “supports legislation that would provide funding to assist communities to secure adequate literacy education services.” California State PTA believes family engagement is crucial and in our Position Statement, Parent Involvement: Building Bridges and Eliminating Barriers, we emphasize that “a successful future for all children can be ensured only by families, schools, local and state agencies working in partnership with one another.”