California State PTA Supports Prop 28: Art & Music in Public Schools

by California State PTA Legislation Team

For almost thirty five years, California State PTA has strongly and actively advocated for a full curriculum that includes the arts. Arts education supports all kids. In the past, many schools have cut arts education even though studies show that the arts keep students in school, increase the graduation rate, increase academic performance, and add to students’ ability to create, collaborate, think critically, and communicate.

Based on our long standing advocacy in this area,  a study of the measure, and the strength of relevant organizational authorities, our Board of Managers voted to support Proposition 28.  California State PTA is formally supporting and actively advocating for Proposition 28 – the Art and Music in Public Schools Measure. The measure is on the ballot of California’s statewide election on November 8.

How Proposition 28 Supports Arts Education

The passage of Proposition 28 is expected to generate more than $900 million a year in dedicated new funding for arts and music education for all public schools across California – without raising taxes. The measure provides extra funding for schools serving students in low-income communities, who are predominantly students of color, thus addressing current inequities in students’ access to arts and music education. This funding would be in addition to the state’s Proposition 98 minimum funding guarantee. 

The majority of the funding is to be used to hire new teachers and staff (80 percent). That represents about a 50 percent increase in arts and music educators in classrooms in California. Besides traditional Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) programs, funds will be used to pay for instruction in computer graphics, animation, coding, and costume design. The measure helps address cuts to arts education which have occurred in many California school districts. 

The initiative also includes strong accountability and transparency measures. It requires school districts to submit annual, public reports to verify the funds are spent as intended, to directly benefit students.

Local PTAs Can Use Their Organizational Voice to Lend Support

When there is an officially adopted California State PTA position on a ballot measure, such as Proposition 28, local PTAs can use that as their authority for their own local advocacy. Many PTAs in California already actively advocate for arts education, for equity, and for strong education funding. This measure has all three!

Local PTAs can use your regular local meetings, social media channels, newsletters and other communications platforms to encourage your community to Vote Yes on Proposition 28. California State PTA will also be putting together social media messages for your convenience. 

Remind families (and students!) to register to vote. And don’t forget to encourage everyone to vote in the November 8 election.

Individual action and advocacy is also important. The official Yes on Prop 28 campaign website encourages individuals to join the campaign and has a sign-up for volunteers.

A Wealth of Education and Arts Organizations Support Proposition 28.

California State PTA is not alone in supporting Proposition 28. A growing list of organizations in the Arts, Education, and many other fields have signed on to the coalition. You’ll find the full coalition list on the campaign website.

California State PTA Supports Prop 31: Prohibit Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

by California State PTA Legislative Action Committee

With flavors like “cotton candy,” “mango slushy,” and “chocolate,” vaping tobacco products have become increasingly popular among youth as young as 4th grade. A 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that approximately one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes. The report directly ties the sale of flavored tobacco products, including candy-flavored vaping liquids, to a sharp increase in tobacco usage among our young people. The tobacco industry is targeting children.

That’s why California State PTA and the majority of California legislators supported Senate Bill (SB) 793, which was signed into law in 2020. The law would have prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products.  

Opponents of SB 793 Put Proposition 31 on the November Ballot

Proposition 31 is a referendum that asks if voters agree with that law. As explained by the Secretary of State, the California Constitution provides for this type of referendum, enabling voters to approve or reject laws such as SB 793.

Since the passage of SB 793 in 2020, corporations that manufacture tobacco products like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent millions to delay the law, with the goal of stopping it permanently. 

Proposition 31 asks voters whether they want to approve or reject the law regarding flavored tobacco products that was already passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. A YES vote means that you approve SB 793 and want to keep it. 

In other words, if approved/supported by the voters (YES votes) this proposition would allow SB 793 to go into effect and make it illegal to sell flavored tobacco products in the state of California. A law that would protect the children and families of California.

If this proposition is rejected by voters (NO votes), SB 793 would not be able to move forward and the tobacco industry would be able to continue to target young people and sell candy flavored tobacco products.

We need every parent, educator, and child advocate to affirm the 2020 law by supporting Proposition 31, in the process defeating the opponents of SB 793 who put Proposition 31 on the ballot. 

Local PTAs Can Use Their Organizational Voice to Lend Support and Protect Our Kids

California State PTA urges all parents, teachers, members, advocates, and citizens to support Prop 31. Because the California State PTA has already adopted a YES position on Proposition 31, local PTAs can use that as their authority for their own local advocacy. 

Local units and councils can use this opportunity to share the harmful effects of tobacco on growing children as well as long term harmful effects on the society. Some resources can be found here .

You can use your regular local meetings, social media channels, and other communications strategies to encourage your community to support Proposition 31. California State PTA will also be putting together social media messages for your convenience. And don’t forget to encourage everyone to vote in the November 8 election.

Individual action and advocacy is also important. In particular, the Vote Yes on 31 campaign is asking for proponents to share their reasons for supporting Proposition 31 and provides this link for doing so. 

A Wealth of Health, Environmental, and Equity Organizations Support Proposition 31

California State PTA is not alone in supporting Proposition 31. The American Cancer Society, American Lung Association in California, and the American Heart Association are among a growing list of supporters of Prop 31.  The full list of local, statewide, and national organizations is available on the Yes on 31 website.

Attendance Issues Could Drive a Change in How School District Funding is Calculated

By Beth Meyerhoff, Education Legislation Advocate

In California, school districts receive funding based on the number of students who attend school or what is known as Average Daily Attendance (ADA). This funding system has become challenging for school districts today. First, total enrollment in K-12 traditional public schools has decreased by almost three percent or 170,000 students in 2020-21, according to California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. Enrollment increases and decreases are spread unevenly across the state, however. 

Secondly, attendance rates also vary by the school district and the impact of COVID-19. In a January 2022, article, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) estimates that the majority of districts have attendance levels that equal 90 percent of their enrollment or higher. By contrast, Los Angeles Unified School District’s attendance is about 77.5 percent of the fall enrollment. Data from School Innovations and Achievement showed that chronic absenteeism (missing more than 10 percent of the school year) increased by more than a third from March 2020 to March 2021. 

School Funding in California Depends on Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

Not all states fund their public schools the same way. Each measurement is influenced by focusing on different priorities, as the Education Commission of the States describes in a January 2022 Policy Brief. The Brief summarizes the five different ways schools count student enrollment:

  1. A single count on a single day.
  2. Two counts twice per year.
  3. Multiple counts over a period of time.
  4. An attendance average.
  5. A membership (or enrollment) average.

Below is a brief explanation of the most common ways state measure attendance,  as well as which states use which system: 

Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

California is one of seven states that use Average Daily Attendance (ADA) to determine school district funding, according to the Education Commission of the States. ADA is the average number of students in seats calculated over a state-determined period of time. Absent students are not counted in the daily count. The seven states using this measurement often cite the rationale that time spent in a physical classroom leads to improved student achievement. Along with California, those states include Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, and Texas.

Under ADA, districts with higher attendance rates receive more funding while those districts that have lower attendance rates (for whatever reasons), stand to lose funding. Using ADA can result in funding inequities among districts that serve different populations, particularly communities that tend to have higher rates of absenteeism. Reduced funding for school districts with absent students can reduce a district’s capacity to seek out missing kids.

Average Daily Membership (ADM)

Another method for counting students averages student enrollment numbers, rather than attendance. Average Daily Membership (ADM) measurement counts the number of students enrolled throughout all or most of the year which may enable school districts to more readily make hiring and programming decisions based on the number of students enrolled. This measurement includes absent students.
States using ADM: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia

Enrollment Count 

Another method is counting how many students are enrolled on a single day or multiple periods of days. Also known as a “seat count,” students can be counted in a single count period or during multiple count periods and it is a measurement of how many students are sitting in seats on a given “count day.” Enrollment Count is used by 28 states. States can emphasize attendance on “Count Day” to ensure more accurate census reporting.
Some states include absent students in this count, basically making it an enrollment count, and some do not.

Single Count Day 

This measurement is the number of students enrolled or in attendance on a certain day.
States using Single Count Day: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah and West Virginia.

Multiple Count Dates 

This measurement is the number of students enrolled or in attendance on several dates.
States using Multiple Count Dates: Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin.

Two Other Methods

Two other methods measure students over one or more periods, some include absent students, others do not. Alabama, New Mexico, and Wyoming use a Single Count Period.
Illinois and Ohio use Multiple Count Periods.

California’s Approach Has Changed Little in Decades

California has not always used ADA to determine school funding. Prior to 1973, K-12 schools were funded by property taxes imposed by local school districts, leading to disparities in per-pupil funding. Parent John Serrano filed a lawsuit against the State of California and won, with the California Supreme Court finding that “equality of educational opportunity requires that all school districts possess an equal ability in terms of revenue to provide students with substantially equal opportunities for learning.” Until 1999, schools’ count of students was based on attendance but students with excused absences, mostly due to illness, were added to the count. After Senate Bill 727 was enacted in 1998-99, school districts no longer received funding for students who were absent from school for any reason.

Under current law, a school district’s funding is based on the greater of the prior year or current year ADA. In successive state budgets, policymakers have tried to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 absences on some districts by adjusting that rule somewhat: 

  • The 2020-21 Budget included a hold-harmless clause for determining district funding by permitting 2020-21 funding to be based on 2019-20 ADA rather than the 2020-21 ADA. 
  • The 2021-22 Budget Act allows school districts to determine ADA based on the prior year (2020-21) or current year ADA. 
  • The Governor’s Budget proposal for 2022-23 would fund districts based on their average attendance over the three years preceding the current year if that number exceeds their current and prior year attendance.

Legislators are proposing multiple strategies to help districts with volatile enrollment numbers and increased absenteeism due to COVID-19.

California State PTA took positions on three bills to help districts ensure more fiscal stability:

AB 1607 (Muratsuchi) – Watch – for purposes of the local control funding formula, this bill would calculate average daily attendance based on a 3-year average for those local educational agencies starting in the 2022-23 school year.

AB 1609 (Muratsuchi) – Support – for the 2022-23 fiscal year, require the department to use the greater of the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, or 2022-23 fiscal year average daily attendance for purposes of apportionments under the local control funding formula for these local educational agencies.

SB 579 (Allen) – Support – for the 2021-22 fiscal year, require the department to use the greater of the 2019-20 or 2021-22 fiscal year average daily attendance for purposes of apportionments under the local control funding formula for these local educational agencies. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, require the department to use the greater of the 2019-20, 2021-22 or 2022-23 fiscal year average daily attendance for purposes of apportionments under the local control funding formula for these local educational agencies.

Each of these bills attempts to mitigate the impact of unpredictable and volatile enrollment and average daily attendance in school districts who budget years in advance. By ensuring fiscal predictability, school districts can better allocate resources to benefit all children.

California State PTA Supports SB 878, the Road to Success Act

By Beth Meyerhoff, Education Legislation Advocate

SB 878 (Skinner)

Yellow Buses for Every TK-12 California Public School

California State PTA supports Road to Success, a bill which will make sure that every TK-12 public school student has bus transportation to school. When kids don’t have a way to get to school, they miss school. 

Senate Bill 878 (Skinner) would create a universal state-funded bus plan. Districts would not be allowed to charge families a fee for transportation to school. Current California law does not require school districts to transport students and only around 9% of California students ride the bus to school (the lowest rate of any state) according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey administered by the Federal Highway Administration. Federal law does require districts to transport certain students such as students with disabilities, students attending Federally Sanctioned Schools and homeless students.

Studies show a strong relationship between access to transportation and improved school attendance, according to an EdSource article. The California Department of Education also identifies lack of transportation as one of the most common reasons cited for missing school. 

Moreover, guaranteed transportation increases the likelihood of a student graduating high school. 

Other benefits of school bus transportation include potentially eliminating 17 million cars on the road nationally while reducing greenhouse gas emissions if zero-emission vehicles are used. Buses are a safer mode of transportation than cars according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. The American School Bus Council reports that students are seventy times more likely to get to school safely due to stop arm laws and safety features such as seat belts.

SB 878 would begin funding in 2022-23 in order to give school districts time to purchase buses and leverage resources to better attract and retain bus drivers. Implementation would begin in the 2023-24 school year. 

California State PTA has long supported legislation to fund the cost of transporting pupils as stated in our resolutions, School Transportation and School Transportation – Equitable and Adequate Funding. 

California State PTA believes that school attendance leads to student achievement. Universal bus transportation removes a barrier to school attendance and helps ensure that every child has the chance for success in school.

California State PTA Supports SB 291: Giving Students a Voice Act

By Melanie Lucas, Education Legislation Advocate

SB 291

California State PTA supports a bill that would give students a seat at the table on a special needs advisory board.

Roughly 800,000 students in California receive special education services which make up about 12.5% of the total student population according to the California Department of Education.

Currently, the 17-member Advisory Commission on Special Education (ASCE) exists to, among other things, study and provide assistance and advice to 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.

SB 291 seeks to give our students a seat at the table by forming a ten-member advisory council made up of students ages 16 to 24, with exceptional needs from across the state to advise the Advisory Commission of Special Education (ASCE) on their experiences in special education. This bill also adds one member of the new student advisory council to the ASCE with full voting rights, bringing  the commission to 18 members.  

California State PTA believes that representation matters. Giving our students, the most impacted stakeholders, a voice will lead to a much stronger understanding of their lived experiences resulting in better experiences for current and future students in special education. 

California State PTA Supports AB1675: Expedited Application Process For Teacher Credentialing of Military Spouses

By Beth Meyerhoff, Education Legislative Advocate

AB 1675 (Ward)

Expedited Teacher Credentialing for Spouses of Active Duty Armed Forces Members

California State PTA took a support position on a bill that will streamline the barriers to obtaining a license for military spouses who hold out-of-state teaching credentials. Assembly Bill 1675 (Ward). 

Military spouses often have only a short stay in California. Teaching is the most common occupation for military spouses. Lengthy relicensing requirements could discourage spouses from applying for their California teaching credential. With 40,000 military spouses in California and 10% identifying education as their career, Assembly Bill 1675 (Ward) could potentially benefit 4,000 military spouses and our California students and schools.

Under this bill, the California Teaching Credential Commission (CTC) teaching credential application process is streamlined so spouses need to submit: 1) fingerprinting / background check; 2) proof of out-of-state credential; 3) proof of military orders. Once the paperwork is submitted, the CTC would have seven days to process the application with the goal of spouses teaching within 30 days of submitting paperwork. The bill would also require the CTC to post information specific to its policies affecting the military community on its website in order to improve accessibility on these policies.

This bill would address the teacher shortage in California. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nationwide, there are 567,000 fewer educators in our public schools than before the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by the National Education Association, 55% of educators are looking to leave the teaching profession earlier than they had planned. In 2017-18, 80% of California school districts reported a shortage of qualified teachers. 

California State PTA supports practices to hire highly qualified teachers. Recruiting and hiring fully credentialed military spouses will ensure that all students have access to well prepared and effective teachers.

California State PTA is a Sponsor of AB 1614, Increasing the LCFF Base Grant

By Anita Avrick, Education Legislation Advocate 

AB 1614 (Muratsuchi)

It’s Time to Raise the Base Grant

California State PTA supports increasing school funding for all students. Our students deserve adequate funding for a full curriculum. AB 1614 (Muratsuchi) would raise the amount of money used as a base grant in California’s public school funding formula. California State PTA has voted to sponsor this bill.

In 2013-14, California enacted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which is how schools are allocated money in California.  LCFF is intended to provide school districts with greater discretion in using their funds to educate students while providing an emphasis on additional resources for those with greater needs. 

In the 2018-19 Budget, LCFF was fully funded. However, California was still below average per-pupil funding rates when compared with other states. There is still inadequate funding of the base to cover rising fixed costs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, greater flexibility is now needed by local school districts to focus on sustaining and expanding a student-centered recovery. All school districts will benefit from base grant increases.

Currently, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) states that there will be an additional $8.4 billion available for ongoing K-12 priorities that can be used to address changes school districts and our students are facing. In addition, in the Governor’s proposed budget for the year 2022-23, $102 billion for Proposition 98 funding includes $3.3 billion in Proposition 98 funding for LCFF, but no additional funding for the base grants. 

AB 1614 takes $4.2 billion (half of the estimated Proposition 98 increase) and adds it into the LCFF above the statutory Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for the 2022-23 budget year. The base rates would increase by about $3.4 billion and would also provide increases of the supplemental and concentration grant by roughly $750 million each. The goal is to bring California into the top ten states in the country for K-12 per-pupil spending.

California State PTA Supports AB558, School Meals: Child Nutrition Act of 2022

By Vinita Verma, California State PTA Health Advocate

AB 558 (Nazarian)

School meals support education by providing nutrition to children. They improve behavior, ability to focus, and academic performance. For some students, school meals are the only meal that they have all day long. Yet, traditional school lunch meals make it hard for children with dietary restrictions or food allergies to make use of the school lunch program. Families with children who are too young to be enrolled at school can have children who face hunger at an even younger age. 

California State PTA supports AB 558 – School meals: Child Nutrition Act of 2022. This bill would encourage school districts to offer plant-based meals at schools and also encourages school districts to offer meals to non school-age siblings, half-siblings, and step-siblings of students who use the free or reduced-price lunch program, as well as foster children at schools from first to sixth grade. 

California State PTA has a long history of supporting child nutrition in schools and has multiple resolutions which strongly support this bill: 

  • School Nutrition Programs: Improvement and Expansion (2012)
  • Breakfast in Every School (2103)
  • Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis in Schools (2014)
  • Healthy Lifestyles for All Children (2004) 

California State PTA believes that school meals are essential for all children. Ensuring that all children have access to nutritious, healthy meals that meet their dietary needs is essential for their robust development, growth, and education.

California State PTA Supports AB 58:  Pupil health: suicide prevention policies and training

AB 58 (Salas)

by Vinita Verma, California State PTA Health Advocate

California State PTA has taken a support position on Pupil health: suicide prevention policies and training. 

The California State PTA has a strong advocacy goal of improving pupil mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29 year-olds.” A WHO report states that “by 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease burden globally.” We are in a state of emergency for the mental health of our children.  

AB 58 (Salas) will give communities the needed tools to address this mental health crisis. It will also require school districts to review and update their policy on suicide prevention and revise their training materials to incorporate best practices on suicide prevention. 

California State PTA has multiple authorities which strongly support this bill: 

  • Resolutions: 
    • Mental Health Services for Our Children and Youth (2020)Mental Illness: Treatment and Support (1999) 
  •  Legislation Planks
    • to support all students with quality counseling and guidance services, school health services both mental and physical, and library services, provided by credentialed personnel 
    • to protect and improve the health of all families through the prevention, treatment, and control of the disease; 
    • to extend and improve physical and mental health services and facilities, including rehabilitation. 
  • Advocacy Goal:
    •  promote physical and mental wellness beginning in early childhood.

California State PTA strongly believes in ensuring that all California children and families receive holistic mental health support services for their robust health, growth, and education.

Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units: Essential and Easy to Update

By Leadership Services Commission

What do you think of when you hear the term “bylaws?” Does “restrictive,” “rules,” and “Who needs them?” come to mind? The more familiar you are with unit, council, or district bylaws the more you’ll appreciate their contribution to running an organization smoothly. They are also a resource for key information and must be updated as outlined below:

  • The cover page includes the date your PTA was organized; National PTA and California State PTA identification numbers as assigned, and your District PTA and Council PTA names, if in council. 
  • The internal signature page indicates when the bylaws were last adopted. Bylaws must be updated every five years, or as changes are needed. The date included with the State Parliamentarian’s signature starts the five-year clock.

Bylaws should be reviewed annually by the executive board, early in the term. The handout, Bylaws are Essential, provides an overview of Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units. Council and district PTA bylaws are similar. The Job Description for Parliamentarians includes the process to update bylaws. 

California State PTA has a free, nearly paperless, electronic tool to update your bylaws easily, eBylaws. This tool now includes the latest 2022 English bylaws version for units. Visit the PTA Leaders, Services, eBylaws webpage to request a password to use the free system. While you wait for the password, use the helpful information (in English and Spanish) on the same webpage 4 Key Steps to Review Bylaws, and the eBylaws worksheet. When you receive your password to eBylaws, return to the webpage and click on Access eBylaws. After you have correctly entered your PTA information, the system will generate a set of bylaws to submit through channels to the State Parliamentarian for approval. Follow the How to Submit Your Bylaws cover sheet included with the bylaws pdf.  

Bilingual Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units are available for units in pdf fillable form or paper copy from your council or district PTA. Use eBylaws to update the English text, then copy the English and enter the Spanish text to the bilingual bylaws. Work with your council/district PTA to determine how to submit bilingual bylaws. 

Questions? Contact the PTA council or district parliamentarian for assistance to update bylaws, your essential leadership tool.