New laws for California’s schools and youth

by Legislation Commission

Many new laws were passed in 2023 that affect the lives of California’s children, youth, and families. Here are just some of them that were supported by California State PTA:

Recess guaranteed.  Schools must provide at least 30 minutes of free-play recess on regular school days that cannot be restricted by staff.  (SB 291 – Newman)

Worker rights for high schoolers.  Information must be provided to students on labor rights before they receive a work permit. (AB 800 – Ortega)

Info for families.  Schools must post their Local Control and Accountability Plan on the California School Dashboard to make it easier to find online.  (SB 609 Caballero)

Teach climate science.  Science courses in grades 1-12 must include the causes and effects of climate change and methods to mitigate and adapt to climate change. (AB 285 – Rivas)

Cleaner transport.  New school buses must be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. (AB 579 – Ting)

Drug prevention and response.  Schools must have a protocol for responding to a student’s opioid overdose.  (SB 10 – Cortese)

School safety plans for all.  Plans must include disaster procedures and adaptations for pupils with disabilities.  (SB 323 – Portantino)

Equitable student discipline.  Suspension or expulsion of a student in grades 6 through 12 based on willful defiance is prohibited.  (SB 274 – Skinner)

No more book bans.  Public school students must be provided with accurate and inclusive instructional materials in social sciences; censorship and discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or any other protected characteristics is prohibited.  (AB 1078 – Jackson)

Want to learn more?  See Carol Kocivar’s Ed100 blog discussing several more of California’s new laws.

Plan for a full year of advocacy!

As your PTA develops its plans for the 2023-24 school year, it’s important for education administrators and PTA leaders to nurture PTA advocacy efforts together.  

PTA leaders understand that speaking up for children – the essence of advocacy – is essential to ensure that every child has access to a quality education and the support they need to thrive.  California’s school principals and district superintendents benefit from having robust advocacy efforts supported in their schools because most know that strong family engagement improves education outcomes for students. Working together, parents, PTA leaders, teachers, and administrators can mobilize around actions that will improve the education, health, and well-being of all children and youth.

What’s meaningful to the members of your community?  Advocacy is different at each school.  Policymakers need to hear from their constituents about the impact of their policies.  That’s true at every level, from your local school and district, to city and county governments, to state and federal legislators. Also consider who doesn’t have a seat at the table:  Who are you NOT hearing from?  

Keep in mind that with PTA, you are never alone. Whether it’s grassroots efforts designed to give ordinary people a voice in the political process, or direct advocacy activities to communicate with policy decision makers,  you have an ally in PTA!  You have people who care about what YOU care about. 

California State PTA has policies, experts, tools, and resources to help you make a difference on the issues that concern you. A great place to start is the Advocacy section of the California State PTA website.  Now – at the start of the school year – is the time to engage your volunteer base and leverage your resources. You can amplify your collective voice effectively to benefit your community’s children, youth, and families.  

Start by selecting a PTA leader to head up the advocacy efforts of your PTA unit, council, or district. Make sure that their contact information is submitted to California State PTA so that they can be a part of state-level advocacy programs throughout the year.

Invest in the growth and development of your advocacy program by ensuring that your advocacy leaders and local team members can participate in California State PTA programs that support their efforts.  Examples include advance budgeting and planning to attend the California State PTA Legislation Conference (January 22-23, 2024, in Sacramento), training and workshops available at the California State PTA Convention  (May 3-5, 2024 in Ontario), and utilizing the various online resources and webinars designed to inform, educate, and empower advocates to take action that makes a difference.

Other ways that schools, school districts, and PTA leaders can work together to nurture advocacy efforts in support of common goals include:

Annual LCAP process – Encourage all members of your community to contribute to the development of your Local Control and Accountability Plan by offering multiple opportunities to collect input and listen to what families need from their public schools through local PTAs.  Having PTA host an event at each school can result in more meaningful suggestions coming from a broader cross-section of your community than limited electronic surveys allow.  PTA gatherings can also be helpful in determining the efficacy of LCAP implementations.  

Election Year 2024:  Promote voter engagement – The 2024 California State Primary Election, which will include the presidential primary, takes place early next year.  Promote civic engagement by holding a voter registration drive with a special emphasis on encouraging eligible high school seniors to participate.  Online pre-registration is now available for eligible 16- and 17-year-olds by visiting California youth who pre-register to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old. Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is 18. Instead, it allows eligible Californians ages 16 or 17 to complete the online voter registration form providing sufficient time and opportunity to get ready to vote.

All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 5, 2024, California Primary Election.  The last day to register to vote is February 20, 2024.  You can check your voter status online at

Ballot measures – If your school district is seeking funds through a ballot measure, California State PTA can offer guidance on how your local PTA can help to inform the public about the relevant issues concerning the measure, or even help secure the passage of a local school district facilities bond or local parcel tax election.

Join us!

Both California State PTA and National PTA regularly engage in direct legislative advocacy efforts to effect policy changes that benefit all children.  One of the key ways that parents, teachers, principals, and administrators can contribute to strengthening our collective voice is to be sure to join PTA at the start of each school year.  We’re stronger together!

How you can have a voice in developing your school district’s LCAP

by Kathleen Fay, California State PTA Family Engagement Commission Consultant

At this time of year, California school districts  can demonstrate their commitment to family engagement in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP).  National PTA Standards for Family-School Partnerships include two principles that have particular relevance during the spring season of the LCAP when districts are making their final decisions about their budgets and priorities. 

Do you know if these family engagement standards, from National PTA Standards for Family-School Partnerships Assessment Guide, are being met as part of your district’s LCAP process?

  • Principal 4 = Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
  • Principle 3 – Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

As part of their local accountability work, school districts have to report on  Priority #3: Parent Involvement, which requires school districts to seek parent input in making decisions for their schools and to promote family participation in education programs for all students.  But the way a district chooses to seek that input varies widely depending on how district leaders choose to handle it.  For example, some districts encourage families to come to open public input sessions held at each school site, while others (sadly) do little more than send parents a survey to rank their satisfaction with a shortlist of pre-selected issues.  

One of the most impactful ways families and caregivers  can offer input into the LCAP process is to participate in their school district’s Parent Advisory Committee, which provides advice to the governing board and superintendent regarding the development of the LCAP.  If school district enrollment includes at least 15 percent English learners and at least 50 pupils who are English learners, there should also be an English learner parent advisory committee established for the district.  You can ask your school principal how to sign up to participate.

What issues should you consider when offering your input?  What’s important to your family that the school should be doing better?  PTA and Ed100 have created an LCAP Checklist to help you think through what’s important.  It gives you the background you need and questions to ask.  PTA leaders can share it to get people engaged and use it as a tool to organize a public input session for your unit.  Here’s the link:  LCAP CHECKLIST

Other ways PTA leaders can support parent involvement in the LCAP process:

  • Find and download your district’s LCAP, then share it for easy access by parents.
  • Invite your school/district administrator to be a guest speaker at a PTA meeting or special forum held to explain the contents of your LCAP and suggest avenues for parent input.
  • Offer a presentation to review and then openly discuss what the California School Dashboard reveals about your school’s strengths, challenges, and areas in need of improvement.
  • Organize at least one open input session for your unit so that your school community’s recommendations can be collected, documented, and submitted to the LCAP Advisory Committee for further consideration.
  • Create a better climate for family-school partnerships by working through PTA’s Standards for Family-School Partnerships Assessment Guide.  Summary and full guide available in English and Spanish at:  
  • Work with your district to create a family-friendly summary of your LCAP that uses graphics and plain language to clarify who is being helped and how (student populations targeted and resources devoted to them).

The LCAP is a key tool for making certain that schools and districts are held accountable to the community for the education of its children.  Make sure that your PTA supports an engaged parent community to guide policy and make decisions that improve your school.  Remember, it begins with Local Control!

Brief Overview: Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)

The LCAP uses a state-provided template as a tool to help districts set goals, plan actions, and leverage resources to meet those goals to improve student outcomes.  Essentially, the LCAP is the document that spells out how the district plans to spend its limited resources to achieve what’s important.

The LCAP is adopted to be effective for three years and is updated each year as part of your district’s annual budget process (due each June).  LCAPs must explicitly address the needs of consistently low-performing student groups as well as low-performing schools within the district.  Meeting the needs of English language learners, students in poverty, and foster youth have a particularly high priority, established by state requirements.  As a parent, you have a right to contribute your input in this process.  

Want to know what’s in your LCAP?  School districts are required to post their LCAPs online to publicly disclose how they spend education funds.  But while some districts post a clear link to it on their homepage, others make it hard to find, so you may have to do some searching.  

Make your voice heard when your school district considers key decisions about its future through the development of its LCAP! For additional information about the LCAP process and ways for parents to get involved, go to


Learn How To Put Arts Education Into Your District Budget


Parents, students, and community advocates can help assure that arts education is part of their school district’s annual funding discussion. The state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is the key and you’re invited to a virtual workshop to learn more.

Join California State PTA, along with our partners Create CA, Arts for LA, and the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, for Part 1 of a three-part series focused on the LCFF and how to be an informed arts education advocate. You’ll walk away knowing how to read and understand your school district’s Local Control & Accountability Plan (LCAP). You’ll learn about the tools you need to let your school leaders know that the arts are not optional. You’ll hear directly from a school board member and student representatives about promising practices for creating change in your district.

This free workshop takes place on Thursday, October 28, at 3:30 p.m. (Pacific Time). Click HERE to register.

Standard #1: Welcoming all families into the school community

By Heather Ippolito, VP for Family Engagement

Earlier this month we introduced the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships on the blog. You can view that article by clicking here.  Today we are going to dig a little deeper into the first standard:  

Welcoming All Families Into the School Community

As your local unit begins to think about your back to school events consider these five tips for being as inclusive as possible in welcoming ALL families:

  1. On forms and paperwork remember to be inclusive in your language.  Instead of asking for names of “moms and dads” you can ask for names of parents, caregivers, or guardians.  Asking parents for their preferred pronouns is also a great idea!
  2. Create a “Welcome Packet” for new families.  Include coupons for local businesses, maps of the community, a copy of the school newsletter, how to find the school and PTA on social media, and a list of ways parents can get involved at your school including but not limited to:  
    • School Site Council (SSC), 
    • English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC), 
    • Parent Teacher Association (PTA), 
    • Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and other school or district committees.  
  3. Don’t forget to include a way to join your PTA!   Every time a new family enrolls the school office staff can give them the welcome packet.
  4. PTA volunteers call new families to personally invite them to the back-to-school events, offering to help them find transportation if they need it.
  5. Survey families (in their home language if possible) to see what kinds of programs they are interested in and what kinds of support they need from the school.

We want to hear from you!  What activities have you done to welcome families?  Share them with us and we might feature them here on the blog or on our social media channels– simply fill out this quick form and let us know what you’ve done to welcome schools to your campus.

To return to the blog homepage, click here.

Introduction to the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

National PTA is focused on transformative family engagement which is defined as “a shared effort of families, schools, and community leaders to advance programs, practices, and policies that empower every parent to make their child’s potential a reality.” To that end, the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships will help your school evaluate where you are in your family engagement journey and give you ideas to be more inclusive in your practices.

There are six parts to the blueprint:

  1. Welcoming all families into the school community 
  2. Communicating effectively 
  3. Supporting student success 
  4. Speaking up for every child
  5. Sharing power 
  6. Collaborating with community

Throughout the year we will be sharing with you some examples and best practices in each of these areas, but we would also love to hear from you!  What are you doing to engage families in your school, council, or district PTA? Share your great ideas by completing this form or email

To learn more about National PTA’s Transformative Family Engagement work, visit the Center for Family Engagement and watch this video:  

Next steps: 

  • Download the complete Guide and begin to read through it or start with the briefer summary document as an introduction.
  • Select one area of focus for your PTA to discuss at your next meeting.  Brainstorm ideas and make a plan to put one of those ideas into action at the following meeting.
  • Show the Guide to your school principal and give it to your School Site Council President.

If you missed last week’s Family Engagement Friday blog post, you can check it out here.

To return to the blog homepage, click here.

Family Engagement: It’s the Law

As PTA members, we know how important family engagement is for student and school success. 

Did you know that family engagement is not just good practice? In California it’s the law! 

The California Department of Education’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) gives local school districts a lot of substantial power to make local decisions that affect their communities. Every local education authority (school district) in California has to submit a plan for how it will use the LCFF funding. 

Learn more about the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the state’s required Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) here.

Part of your district’s LCAP includes a description of how the district engages families in decision-making and planning. In 2018, California PTA worked with other state Family Engagement partners to pass AB 2828, which requires school districts and charter schools to describe their family engagement strategies and outcomes in specific ways in their annual Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP).

What does this look like in your school district?

  • Does your district make every effort to seek parent input in making decisions for your school district and your school site? 
  • How does your district plan to increase participation for students with exceptional needs?
  • What is working and not working for your district?

Learn more about measuring and reporting family engagement at “Family Engagement: It’s the Law,” a Convention 2021 presentation, live Q&A and meet-up on May 12.

Next steps:

  1. Use the National PTA checklist to measure family engagement at your own school site;
  2. Check out the National Standards for family school partnerships to get ideas; 
  3. Attend your school site or district Local Control and Accountability Plan planning meetings;
  4. Find out if your district is using the California State Self-Reflection tool; and
  5. Ask your school and your district how they will engage all families in your community.


About Kari Gray: A San Francisco resident, public school parent, arts advocate and community engagement specialist, Kari Gray currently works as the Special Projects Manager at ODC/Dance and serves on the Boards of Youth Arts Exchange, the Second District of the California State PTA, and on the Family Engagement Commission and Art Committee for the California State PTA.

To return to the blog homepage, click here.

It’s Time for a Renewed Focus on the Old LCAP

This article was written by Kathleen Fay, member of the California State PTA Legislation Team.

A school district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is an important tool that requires a district to identify goals, address priorities, allocate funds, implement actions, provide services, and measure results to improve student outcomes. The annual LCAP review should provide opportunities for robust parent involvement as a fundamental part of the planning process.  However, this LCAP process was turned on its head last year with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quarantines and school closures necessitated changes in the usual LCAP planning process. First, an Executive Order extended LCAP deadlines, then legislation eliminated the annual LCAP update altogether. Taking its place was the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan – by no coincidence also abbreviated as LCAP – to be used as a planning tool to address issues of distance learning, live student interactions, and attendance. The “new LCAP” included strategies to ensure a full curriculum, train staff, and address resources and technical support during the crisis. And it was all to have been put together with parent input and reported publicly.

As California now looks (hopefully) towards a post-pandemic school year, districts must return to the original LCAP model to examine how students were supported throughout the pandemic, what was done to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and consider the effects of issues such as pupil learning loss; student and staff mental health and social-emotional well-being; pupil engagement and outreach; nutrition; learning continuity; attendance; infrastructure needs; and any ongoing response to COVID-19.

In short, it’s time for school districts to take an honest look at the results of the last year and then make practical plans on how to repair any damage. This is something that PTAs should strongly encourage members to take part in – through multiple public input opportunities. These meetings should be open to input from all parents and community members. It is up to us to speak for every child with one voice.

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