Friday, March 1st, 2013
by Jessica Sawko
The date for legislators to introduce legislation for this year has passed and this year’s legislative agenda and several bills are on CSTA’s list of bills to watch.
Leading the list is SB 300 (Hancock). Existing law prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting instructional materials until the 2015–16 school year. This bill would require the state board to consider the adoption of a revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for instructional materials in science on or before November 30, 2015, and would require the revised curriculum framework to be based on specified science content standards. This bill is the key next step that will need to take place after the anticipated adoption of new science standards by the State Board of Education this November. (more…)
Friday, February 1st, 2013
by Jessica Sawko
On January 8, State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Tom Torlakson released his long-awaited Recommendations Report for Transitioning to a Future Assessment System. This report was mandated by legislation (AB 250) and will be used to guide the state legislature in their deliberations as they embark on the process of reauthorizing and revamping California’s statewide assessment system. During its January 16 meeting, the State Board of Education (SBE) received a formal presentation of the report by CDE staff. It is important to note here that this presentation was an information item. The State Board of Education does not have a formal role to play at this point in the assessment discussion. The discussion around the statewide assessment system will take place this year in the state legislature. It has been reported that Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) will introduce the legislation. (more…)
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
2013 promises to be an interesting year in the California legislature, both generally and quite possibly for science education. One major item expected to be debated during this legislative season is the issue of the statewide assessment system. Last year, AB 250 (Brownley) called for Superintendent Torlakson to deliver his recommendation for the re-authorization of the statewide assessment system to the legislature in the fall of 2013. While we have not yet seen the final recommendation, CSTA has been following the preparations for the recommendation quite closely. (more…)
Thursday, September 27th, 2012
The end of the 2011/2012 legislative year is here and with it come a few changes for education in California. Below is a list of approvals and vetos by Governor Brown on a few key bills that CSTA has been tracking.
SB 1200 (Hancock): This is a two part bill. One part of the bill will allow the Superintendent at the State Board to modify the Common Core math standards that were adopted in 2010. A group of experts including teachers will make the recommendations for changes to the Superintendent and there were will two public meetings held on the proposed modifications. Per the language of the bill, the modifications that are recommended to the state board shall: (more…)
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
The end of August is a very busy time of year in the California legislature. It marks the close of the legislative year, as August 24 is the last day a bill can be amended on the floor and August 31 is the last day for each house to pass bills. After this, the next major deadline in the legislative process is the end of September, which is the deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto any bills passed by the legislature. There are currently several pieces of proposed legislature that are potentially important to California science educators, and already some significant amendments have been made during these last few weeks of jockeying and positioning to get bills passed. (more…)
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
Membership in CSTA includes educators in a legislative advocacy network that many do not realize works for them every day. When I began my science teaching career in the 1980’s I knew of CSTA as a group who put on a great conference. It was not until the CA Framework for Science renewal process occurred that I realized CSTA was also a resource for me, as the sole science credentialed teacher at my site, to help inform my colleagues and principal about what was expected in CA science classrooms. That awareness led to my noticing CSTA provided much more than conferences! As a member, I had articles and research and advocacy all rolled up in one. (more…)
Thursday, June 28th, 2012
The legislature rejected Governor Brown’s proposal to eliminate the state mandate requiring a second year of high school science. On June 27, the legislature passed the education trailer bills (AB 1476 and SB 1016). The bills contained no language to modify the high school science graduation requirement as proposed by Governor Brown in his January and May budget proposals. Our most sincere thanks goes out to all of you who contacted their legislators and let them know that diminishing the high school science graduation requirements was a step in the wrong direction for California’s future. (more…)
Monday, June 18th, 2012
The state budget vote that occurred on June 15 did not include this issue. The topic of the second year science graduation requirement is still being discussed and we are not out of the woods yet on this issue.
Because the issue remains fluid, and until such time as the governor signs the budget and the anticipated education trailer bill (expected early this week) CSTA urges you to continue to bring awareness around this issue by sharing this information broadly and signing the petition to Save Science. Click here to find the contact information for your representatives at the state level. Clcik here for talking points. Please urge your reresentative to oppose the proposal to dilute the high school science graduation requirement.
In his May revision of the 212-2013 budget, the governor made several changes to his education block grant proposal (designed to reform the education mandate system, of which the graduation requirement is a part). One thing he did not change was his proposal to eliminate the “Graduation Requirement” mandate, which requires high school students to complete two years of science to fulfill their graduation requirements. (more…)
Friday, June 15th, 2012
The California Legislature has successfully protected the existing funding mechanism for the second year science class graduation requirement. The state budget vote that occurred today did not include this issue.
Because the issue remains fluid, and until such time as the governor signs the budget and the anticipated education trailer bill (expected early next week) CSTA urges you to continue to bring awareness around this issue by sharing this information broadly and signing the petition to Save Science. (more…)
Monday, June 4th, 2012
by Jessica L. Sawko
In his May revision of the 212-2013 budget, the governor made several changes to his education block grant proposal (designed to reform the education mandate system, of which the graduation requirement is a part). One thing he did not change was his proposal to eliminate the “Graduation Requirement” mandate, which requires high school students to complete two years of science to fulfill their graduation requirements.
CSTA has been reporting and acting on the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the Graduation Requirement mandate since February (March, April, May). In May, CSTA teamed up with the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet). Our combined efforts have resulted in gaining support for our position of opposing the Governor’s proposal in the Assembly, but there is still work to be done in the Senate. (more…)
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
by Carolyn Holcroft and Marian Murphy-Shaw
In recent months, CSTA has been working to keep members informed about the status of the high school science graduation requirement. Under title 5 section 51225.3, California high school students must complete a minimum of one biological science course and one physical science course in order to graduate, and that second year of science is estimated to cost the state upwards of $200 million annually. Since the state is currently facing its most dire financial situation in decades and state leaders are exploring all options for cost savings, perhaps it’s not surprising that the second-year science mandate has been targeted in Governor Brown’s 2012-2013 budget proposal. At this time it is unclear whether his ultimate objective would be to eliminate only the mandate (and thus absolve the state’s financial obligation going forward) and keep the requirement via statutory change, or if the requirement for the second year of science would be eliminated altogether. (more…)
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
by Jessica L. Sawko
As more information comes to light regarding the Governor’s plan to eliminate the Graduation Requirement mandate (second year, physical science requirement), CSTA and the public’s concern continues to grow. As reported in California Classroom Science in February and March, Governor Brown’s 2012-2013 budget proposal included the elimination of nearly half of the K-14 education mandates, including the Graduation Requirement mandate. (more…)
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
CSTA works hard to make sure educators in California have current information on legislative activity that has potential to impact classroom teachers and student learning. Of course your part as individuals and professional educators is to keep as informed as possible, and speak up to raise awareness in the forums you have a roll in, whether it’s a Site Council, school board or bargaining unit meeting, or your colleagues and friends in your community. (more…)
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
By now most of us have heard that a “trigger has been pulled.” What does that really mean? One of the first things we as science educators can do is slow down rumors and examine observable facts. If your school or district subscribes to School Services of California their Fiscal Report provides up-to-date, accurate information. This is one reliable source to start with and to encourage your colleagues to refer to.
CSTA works for you, its members, and all science educators in California, to keep an eye on state policy related to science education. That in itself is no easy task, and your membership dues are what enable CSTA to maintain a staff presence in Sacramento. Now more than ever members can help keep the educator voice in Sacramento by renewing or inviting colleagues to become members. (more…)
Friday, November 4th, 2011
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
At this year’s California Science Education Conference our president Rick Pomeroy was able to express the thanks that many of us need to continue to express. Thanks to California Senator Loni Hancock for her work – her dedication – to SB 300 signed by Governor Brown on October 8. Thanks to Christine Bertrand, recently retired Executive Director of CSTA, who worked even after her retirement to see SB 300 through to the Governor’s desk. Finally, thanks to all of the CSTA members who made their voices heard about science education in California.
In case you were unable to express your voice or thanks it is not too late. Many of the letters to the Governor, that urged him signing SB 300, were from business or industry partners of educators across the state. No, this is not a CTE bill–it is referred to as the “Pupil instruction: instructional materials: content standards legislation.” In brief though what it does is move forward the updating of California’s science content documents for education and encourages the use of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the template for science standards that include engineering process, not just content, and parallels the more rigorous critical thinking and other 21st Century Skills seen in the math and reading/language arts California Common Core State Standards. (more…)
Friday, September 2nd, 2011
The time is now to begin the long road to reforming science education in California. In the next few days, Governor Jerry Brown will have the opportunity to sign SB 300 (Hancock), which will provide for the revision of the K-12 academic science content standards. The current standards, adopted in 1998, are out of date and do not include many of the advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology, gene research, environmental issues, or even the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet. Without SB 300, there is nothing in law that requires the standards ever to be reviewed and revised, leaving students and teachers with a set of standards that are inadequate to address and promote the scientific literacy so necessary to return California’s economy to the economic viability of years past. (more…)
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
by Christine Bertrand
SB 300 (Hancock), the CSTA-sponsored bill that requires the revision of the science content standards, has passed both houses of the legislature and is being reviewed in the Senate/Assembly Concurrence Committee, meaning the two houses are now working through the latest amendment to reach agreement on the language for the final bill. The bill will then move on to the governor for his signature (or veto).
The latest iteration of the bill calls for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a panel of science experts—including science teachers, district and county office administrators, university professors—to recommend new standards to the State Board of Education by March 30, 2013. In an exciting addition, the bill requires the standards to be based on the new Next Generation Science Standards currently being developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Research Council. (more…)
Friday, July 1st, 2011
by Jessica Sawko
SB300: (Hancock) is a CSTA-sponsored bill that requires the review and revision of the science (and history-social science) content standards. The bill was amended in May to remove the proposed 22-member commission and give the authority to amend the out-dated science standards to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, with a final up or down vote required by the State Board of Education. The bill was amended for a second time at the end of June as it moved to the Assembly Education Committee. The latest version of the bill calls for the establishment of a smaller, nine member Academic Content Standards Commission for Science. This commission would be tasked with making recommendations to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2013 to modify, revise, and update the science content standards . (more…)
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
by Christine Bertrand
Several pieces of legislation relevant to science education have been introduced and are being heard in committee.
SB 300 (Hancock) is a CSTA-sponsored bill that requires the review and revision of the science (and history-social science) content standards. The bill would establish an Academic Content Standards Commission for Science and History-Social Science to develop internationally benchmarked standards, to present the standards to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2013, and for the board to either adopt or reject them by June 30, 2013.
Currently, there is no requirement in law that the content standards ever be updated. This means that California’s students will continue to lag behind other states (and nations) until our state reviews and updates our science content standards. CSTA has supported many efforts in years past to require the science standards to be reviewed and revised, but they had been vetoed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger. We are hopeful that, with a new governor and a new state schools superintendent (who is a former science teacher), we may actually get this attempt signed into law.
Status: Passed Senate Education Committee; now in Senate Appropriations Committee (more…)
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
by Christine Bertrand
The legislative session has just gotten underway, but a few bills of real interest to us have been introduced. Most salient:
SB 300 (Hancock) is a CSTA-sponsored bill that requires the review and revision of the science (and history-social science) content standards. The bill would establish an Academic Content Standards Commission for Science and History-Social Science to develop internationally benchmarked standards, to present the standards to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2013, and for the board to either adopt or reject them by June 30, 2013. (more…)
Saturday, January 1st, 2011
by Christine Bertrand
Governor Jerry Brown has named his appointments to the State Board of Education. As was mentioned in this column last month, Governor Brown had the opportunity to appoint seven new members to the 11-member state board, and he has done so in record time. The list includes former superintendent of public instruction Bill Honig, who served in that position from 1983 to 1993 and was appointed to the state board the last time Jerry Brown was governor, former superintendent of the Palm Springs Unified School District and the Long Beach Unified School District Carl Cohn, and California Teachers Association lobbyist Patricia Rucker, among others. The complete list can be found here.
The governor’s ability to see many of his goals for education come to fruition will be largely determined by these new appointments. At first glance, it would appear that the make-up of the state board differs greatly from the largely charter school-focused members who have populated the state board under Arnold Schwarzenegger. (more…)
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
by Christine Bertrand
As teachers tasked with teaching science know, the last few years have not been kind to science education. Especially in the elementary grades, as policymakers at the state and federal levels have ratcheted up the consequences for districts not meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) in their math and reading scores, less and less science has been taught. With the increase in teacher layoffs due to the state’s terrible budget situation, even secondary schools are seeing fewer science course offerings.
And as regular readers of California Classroom Science are aware, state policymakers halted the entire instructional materials adoption process, including the revision of the science framework that was due to be completed this year. Is there any reason to hope for changes in the coming year? (more…)
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Last month we reported that the legislative version of the 2010-2011 budget bill included $144K for the completion of the science and history-social science frameworks. True to form, Governor Schwarzenegger “blue penciled”—or eliminated—this line item. He reduced the amount by $1,000—yes, that’s a one and three zeros—and allocated it to implementation of the common core standards. Here’s his exact quote: “Instead, it is my intent that the remaining $143,000 be used for higher priority activities [emphasis added] related to the California Common Core Standards, as directed by the State Board of Education.” So, guess we know where science stands in the governor’s view of the world, notwithstanding educators’, the public’s, and the business community’s cries for more emphasis on science in school. Link to governor’s budget messages.
Friday, October 1st, 2010
Last month we reported on promising legislation we anticipated would be signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, and for unclear reasons, the governor vetoed all of them, in rather combative terms.
AB 97 (Torlakson), would have established an Academic Standards Commission for science and history-social science, to be convened “as funding permits” to review and revise the science and history standards.
This was a bill introduced last year which had been held in the Senate Education Committee and which we had thought was completely dead. A few weeks before the end of the legislative session, it was resurrected and sped through Senate Ed. and Senate Appropriations in the final days of the session. According to Assemblyman Torlakson’s office, the governor had indicated he would sign the bill this time–he had vetoed similar bills on two previous occasions.
Unfortunately, he again vetoed the bill, saying that revising the standards now, before the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, would be premature and result in an “unnecessary, duplicative process.” See governor’s veto message. (more…)
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
CSTA continued to work feverishly on several pieces of legislation throughout the last two years, and we are delighted to report on a number of last minute victories and some surprises as the legislative year winds down.
AB 97 (Torlakson), which is an old bill from last year, establishing an Academic Standards Commission for science and history-social science, to be convened “as funding permits” to review and revise the science and history standards.
Everyone thought this bill was completely dead, not having heard anything about it this year as it was held in the Senate Education Committee at the end of last year, but it was amended (the original bill would have revised the math and ELA standards as well, but these were just revised as part of California’s Race to the Top application) and sped through Senate Ed. and Senate Appropriations in the final days of the session. According to Assemblyman Torlakson’s office, the governor has indicated he will sign the bill this time–he has vetoed similar bills on two previous occasions. (more…)