The state’s top education officials are hitting the pause button on a plan for teaching ethnic studies to California high schoolers after the draft faced a flood of criticism.
The draft has faced backlash and been called biased, too “politically correct,” and anti-Semitic. It includes jargon such as “cisheteropatriarchy” and “hxrstory,” and refers to capitalism as a form of power and oppression alongside white supremacy and racism. The draft’s glossary includes xenophobia and islamophobia, but not anti-Semitism.
At a press conference today, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the ethnic studies model curriculum draft needs work and the Education Department will extend the curriculum’s deadline if necessary to get the draft right. Members of the State Board of Education earlier this week wrote the current draft “falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.” The draft was created by an advisory committee comprised of K-12 teachers and college professors who met a total of six times.
Standing by Thurmond’s side were members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, who skewered the draft in a letter to the department last month. Thurmond said “there was no intentional omission of the experiences of Jewish Americans,” but added that the draft should be more inclusive, better balanced and better reflect the state’s diversity.
He said the department will be making many recommendations to the Instructional Quality Commission, which will make final decisions on the curriculum. The commission includes state Senator Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat and the chair of the Jewish caucus, who thanked Thurmond and the department for calling for changes to the curriculum.Read More
California recently approved a longer paid family leave, allowing workers whose blessed events fall on the right side of the new law to take up to eight weeks off with partial pay to bond with a new baby. How’s that going to work? We asked the experts and read the fine print to help you figure it out now, before you’re too sleep deprived to think straight.
The ovulation calendar, that part’s on you.
I’m about to have or adopt a baby. Do I get the longer paid leave?
Probably not. The new 8-week plan kicks in on July 1, 2020. If you file a claim to take paid family leave before that date, you will likely be put on the current plan that allows for six weeks of paid leave, according to Loree Levy, deputy director of the Employment Development Department. She said the rules are still being finalized, but that’s how she expects it will work.
Remember: Paid family leave is on top of the six weeks of disability pay that women can get after childbirth.Read More
In 2016, when Susan Rubio was on the Baldwin Park City Council, she famously accused her then-husband, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, of domestic violence. He had been beating her, she told a Los Angeles County court, since late 2013, just months into their marriage, but she had covered it up — telling hospital staff she had hurt herself working out, for instance — because both were elected officials and because she feared he’d retaliate.
Three years later, Rubio and Hernandez are divorced, he no longer holds office and she’s Sen. Susan Rubio, a freshman Democrat with a bill — co-sponsored in the Assembly by no less than her sister — to lengthen the statute of limitations on domestic abuse. Senate Bill 273 would provide officer training for domestic violence cases and give authorities eight years instead of three to prosecute abuses for which new evidence emerges.
Her aim, she says, is “to make sure that women have more time to deal with their personal struggles and really have the courage to come forward and bring their abusers to justice.”
“When my story broke, so many women decided that they wanted to tell their stories to me, hundreds of them,” Rubio said. “One of the things that I found was common in all of the stories that were told to me is that that there is a deep-rooted trauma and paralyzing fear that comes from their experience — and some of them take years to overcome.”
The extended statute of limitations would apply to cases in which the perpetrator confesses or there are videos, photos, or written or electronic communication that emerge and can be used as sufficient evidence.Read More
As governor, Jerry Brown vetoed a 2017 measure to keep presidential candidates off the California primary ballot unless they release their tax returns. With a stern veto message, he said the Trump-trolling bill would create a political “slippery slope.”
“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?” Brown, a Democrat, wrote.Fellow Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom came to a different conclusion Tuesday, signing a new version of the bill that will make California the first state in the nation to adopt the requirement, and setting the stage for another legal battle with the Trump administration which is almost certain to argue that the law is unconstitutional. As a candidate, Donald Trump has defied custom by never releasing his tax returns.
“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” Newsom said in a signing statement. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”
The measure is more overtly political than most of the bills California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature passes — and dovetails well with Newsom’s effort to paint himself as America’s anti-Trump. In that regard, it may not offer a clear indication of how Newsom will judge wonkier bills that don’t amount to political catnip for his progressive base.
Still, his signature on Senate Bill 27 is significant in part because it’s the first of many measures the new governor will likely face this year that give him the opportunity to unwind decisions by Brown.Read More
You will be forgiven for having the impression that California lawmakers have been talking about comprehensive wildfire legislation forever, when it has only been days since the new fire bill ricocheted from the Assembly to the Senate and back again. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it today, less than a week after the first elected official cleared his throat to introduce the package.
It didn’t set a legislative land-speed record, of course, but some lawmakers did complain that they lacked sufficient time to read and digest such a complex document. What’s the rush? Where to begin?
Kinda. One way to look at it is that the financial health of ratepayers, wildfire victims and utilities are intertwined. The first two groups need utility companies to maintain a beating heart in order to stave off higher electricity bills or to prevent being left high and dry after a utility-caused fire. So there’s some mutual self-interest at work here.
The law sets a June 30, 2020 deadline for the state’s largest utility—Pacific Gas & Electric—to emerge from bankruptcy, and requires that it settle with victims from 2017-2018 fires it caused before it can participate in other aspects of the state plan.
That timeframe was meant for an audience of one: Dennis Montali, the San Francisco judge presiding over PG&E’s bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy proceedings are notoriously thorny and can drag on for years. Lawmakers are hoping that the judge will see the law as providing the possibility of resolution and a way forward for the state’s largest utility—and thus accelerate the legal process.Read More
Heather Williams knew as a kid that she wanted to be a piano teacher. She earned her music degree with a piano emphasis from Brigham Young University and spent decades honing her craft.
Today she not only runs her own academy near Sacramento, offering private lessons with a special certification in the Suzuki Method of instruction, but also teaches in public schools, though she lacks a state teaching credential.
How? Via a loophole that lets charter schools skip some of the credentialing required of teachers in traditional public school classrooms. The exception has allowed Williams to offer music instruction to homeschool charter students and to group classes in brick-and-mortar charters such as the Sacramento-based California Montessori Project network.
Proponents say it encourages enrichment in that privately-run sector of the public school system. In recent months, however—like many state rules that apply to charters—it has drawn legislative attention. And influential lawmakers say it could be on its way out.
Whether all teachers should need a state credential to teach has long been debated. In California, the answer has been “yes” for teachers in traditional public schools.Read More
Aiming to reduce police shootings in a state that has more than 100 of them each year, the California legislature passed a bill Monday setting a tougher standard for police to use deadly force, allowing officers to fire their guns only “when necessary in defense of human life.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he intends to sign Assembly Bill 392, likely putting an end to more than a year of emotional debate in the Capitol that began after Sacramento police killed an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard. The heated testimony revealed the anguish of Californians whose relatives have been killed by police, as well as the energy of a national civil rights movement drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of police shootings in communities of color.
“Race matters, and to suggest otherwise is a blatant denial of the obvious,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who presented the bill on the Senate floor.
“It’s obvious to so many that the current ‘reasonable standard’ of using force… does not protect people’s fundamental human rights.”
Civil libertarians celebrated the bill’s sweeping passage in the Senate but expressed concerns that the measure might be weakened by another bill still moving through the Legislature with the support of police.Read More
Love was in the air early this year when the newly-inaugurated Gov. Gavin Newsom first proposed his first-ever state budget. Pacing the stage of a packed auditorium, he unveiled his ambitious, $209 billion plan with the studiousness of a policy wonk and the charm of an eager politician. He praised lawmakers by name, tossing verbal valentines at fellow Democrats whose majority party support he needed to approve the budget.
“I love this Legislature,” the governor declared.
As budget negotiations heated up over the spring, however, lawmakers weren’t as easily wooed as it may have seemed at the outset.
They pushed back against some of Newsom’s key proposals—to tie transportation funding for cities to their pace of housing development; add a new tax on water to cover the cost of toxic clean-up; tailor an existing health care council to focus only on developing a single-payer system; align California tax law with changes in federal tax law to pay for larger refunds for low-income residents. Outside the budget, lawmakers killed housing bills that would have helped build more homes and protect tenants from eviction or steep rent increases—complicating more Newsom campaign promises.
In the negotiations since, the Legislature and the governor have found enough common ground to advance most of Newsom’s budget priorities, using a different source of funding for the water clean-up, for example, conforming to some of the federal tax increases and adopting Newsom’s buzzwords for the health care council without changing its original mission. And the budget does include more than $2 billion to address the state’s housing crisis. Read More
A majority of California voters want state lawmakers to aggressively address an ever-worsening housing crisis, even if that means strong-arming uncooperative local governments, according to a new poll.
But given the Legislature’s recent track record, they’re probably in for a disappointment.
A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 57% of likely voters (and 62% of all adults) favor a policy that would force local governments to allow denser development “near mass transit and job centers.” That includes half of all the homeowners surveyed, a powerful constituency in the Capitol who are often presumed to oppose zoning reform.
But the odds of the Legislature meeting that demand this year are virtually non-existent. A bill by to do so by San Francisco’s Sen. Scott Weiner was quietly shelved in the Assembly appropriations committee last month.
The poll found similar-sized majorities of Californians want the state to get even tougher: They favor withholding from cities and counties new state transportation dollars raised from a gas tax increase, unless those local governments approve a certain amount of new housing. Read More
For an hour and a half this morning, California lawmakers lined up to speak for or against (but mostly for) one of the most high-profile bills of the year. One member of the Assembly, a former state cop, choked back tears as he wrestled with the implications of his vote.
But when the rolls opened on AB392, which would make it harder for police to legally justify killing a civilian, the tally wasn’t even close. The Assembly passed the bill, 67 to 0, with 13 members abstaining.
Today’s vote pushes California one step closer to enacting use-of-force standards that would be among the strictest in the country. If AB392 is signed into law, police would only be able to use lethal force if “necessary” to defend human life.
The current standard, established by the U.S. Supreme Court, allows the lethal use of force if the split-second decision to pull the trigger is “reasonable.”
Introduced by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber from San Diego, the bill is a product of a long political tug-o’-war. On one side are criminal justice advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which has argued that current law allows police officers to justify all but the most flagrant misconduct. On the other are law enforcement groups, which have said that a stricter use-of-force standard would allow prosecutors to second-guess difficult policing decisions in often dangerous situations. Read More