August 2014 – Vol. 26 No. 12

2014/2015 California State Budget Deal Includes Funding for Standards Implementation, Science Assessment, and Science Framework Development

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Marian Murphy-Shaw and Jessica Sawko

money

The 2014/2015 California State Budget passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown includes $400.5 million that the legislature intends for use on Common Core, NGSS, and ELD implementation (including PD for teachers, instructional materials, and technology supports). However, the use of these funds for this purpose is not mandatory. In addition to this funding, $4 million is being allocated for NGSS assessment, $493,000 in one-time Federal Title III funds are appropriated for the purpose of linking English language development (ELD) standards with academic content standards for mathematics and science, and finally $270,000 is appropriated to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to review and revise, as necessary, the history-social science framework and develop a revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for instructional materials in science based on NGSS. (more…)

California Primary Election Results: Torlakson and Tuck Head to Runoff in November

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

Yesterday’s June 3, 2014 California Primary Election included voting for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI). The results are in and this November 4, 2014 current SPI Tom Torlakson will run against Marshall Tuck. The results of the primary election were 46.9% for Tom Torlakson, 28.6% for Marshall Tuck, and 24.4% for Lydia Gutierrez. Torlakson, while falling short of the majority number of votes to avoid a run-off in November, won the majority vote in all but three counties in California, with Lydia Gutierrez winning the majority in Imperial County and Marshall Tuck earning the majority vote in  Madera and San Diego counties (source: California Secretary of State Website retrieved on June 4, 2014 at 9:18 am). If you would like to know more about the candidates and view a debate, please visit the California State PTA website.

Second Common Core/NGSS Implementation Block Grant Is Still Being Considered

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

updated: June 4, 2014, 9:50 am

A major legislative deadline passed in May – one that requires all bills to be passed out of their house of origin (the Senate or Assembly) in order to be considered viable. In addition to all the activity around the individual bills, the state budget for California is currently being negotiated. Governor Brown released his May budget revision on May 13, 2014. His proposed budget does not include any specific funding for Common Core or NGSS implementation.

The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees have also approved their versions of the budget. The three versions vary considerably with respect to Common Core/NGSS Implementation and broadband infrastructure funding, with the Assembly putting forth the boldest proposal (details are below). The budget will now go to Conference Committee where the Assembly and Senate will work out their differences.  (more…)

Governor Brown’s May Budget Revision Offers Funds for Teacher Pension and LCFF, but Not New Standards Implementation

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

updated 9:10 am, May 14, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget for 2014/2015 this morning. The summary of the budget is available now, the details are also available online. The revision includes $10 billion in new Proposition 98 resources for schools this year, including $4.5 billion to continue the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula.

During the press conference Governor Brown talked about his decision to fund teacher pensions rather than “the string of needs” for education in general. He said “in order to get [students] what they need, they need teachers. Teachers get what they need by having a pension. The pension has to be paid for. You can’t fool people into saying ‘oh, we’re paying a salary, we’ve got health benefits, and you’ve got a pension in 30 years.’ Well you only have a pension in 30 years of you start laying aside money.” He said that his proposal is “taking a big bite” out of the state’s long term obligation.

The budget calls for paying down the debt the state owes to the teacher pension fund CalSTRS. The budget “sets forth a plan of shared responsibility among the state, school districts and teachers to shore up the teacher pension system. The first year’s increased contributions from all three entities are modest, totaling about $450 million. The contributions would increase in subsequent years, reaching more than $5 billion annually. Total contributions today equal 19.3 percent of teacher payroll and will rise to 35.7 percent. This would eliminate the unfunded liability in approximately 30 years.” (p. 4, Governor’s Budget May Revision 2014-2015) (more…)

California Legislature Holds Fast to Its Support for Common Core and Moves Forward Several Bills Relating to Computer Science

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

With several legislative deadlines in May, bills having been and will be moving quickly through their various committees and houses of origin. CSTA has been active this year in working to secure additional funding for NGSS implementation in the form of support for professional development, technology, and instructional materials. The money for the NGSS implementation would once again be included in a proposed one-time funding block grant to support new standards implementation, including Common Core, NGSS, and ELD standards. AB 2319 (Bonilla) proposes $2.2 billion in one-time funding to support the above mentioned standards implementation ($1.5 billion) and broadband internet investment ($700 million) for LEAs in need. AB 2319 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. In the meantime, efforts are being made to encourage Governor Brown to include the language of AB 2319 in his May Budget Revision expected out later this month. CSTA has been working with Assemblywoman Bonilla’s office to insure that the language of AB 2319 is explicit in its support for NGSS. The current version of the bill does just that. (more…)

Governor Brown’s Signs Key Education Legislation – Updated 5:00 pm, 10/3/13

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

Updated 5:00 pm, October 3, 2013

For the past few months CSTA has been closely tracking the progress of two key education bills, SB 300 (Hancock) and AB 484 (Bonilla). On October 2, 2013, Governor Brown signed both of them.

SB 300 authorizes the commencement of the development of the new curriculum framework for science based on the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards. The timeline set forth in the bill calls upon the State Board of Education to adopt the new framework by January 31, 2016. This means that work to produce the framework will commence sometime towards the end of this year. Without the passage of SB 300, work on a new science framework would not have been able to commence until the 2015/2016 school year. In addition to starting the framework development process, SB 300 requires that the new science framework include English language development strategies, and strategies to address the needs of pupils with disabilities.

AB 484 is a much larger bill that recently received Federal attention. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on September 9, 2013, threatening to withhold funding from California if AB 484 was passed in the latest iteration. (more…)

Legislation and Science Learning in California: What’s going on?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

The simple answer to the title question: a lot! In fact in conversations with colleagues about the future of California science education, the phrase “a perfect storm” has come up more than once. Depending on the time you’ve budgeted to tune in to policy and legislation activities you may be feeling the full force of the tempest, getting a little wind and drizzle out on the fringes, or sitting in the eye of the storm thinking all is calm.

As a long-standing institution supporting quality science education and the teachers who provide it, CSTA utilizes a number of methods to remain an ever-present voice regarding state educational policy and legislation.  (more…)

SB 300 and AB 484 Pass from Education Committees to Appropriations

Friday, June 28th, 2013

by Jessica L. Sawko

On June 26, two important bills were passed through the Senate and Assembly Education Committees. SB 300 (Hancock) which will allow for work on a new science curriculum framework based on the new science standards (anticipated adoption November 30, 2013, or sooner) to be completed by November 30, 2015. Without this bill work would not be able to even begin on the curriculum framework until July 1, 2015 – nearly two years after the adoption of new standards. The billed passed the education committee with ease. CSTA thanks Senator Hancock’s office for involving CSTA in the process and we look forward to seeing this bill through to the end. (more…)

Legislative Update

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…)

The Future of Science Assessments in California Is on Its Way to the Legislature

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…)

Legislative Update – Looking Forward to an Exciting Year

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…)

2011/2012 Legislative Year Comes to a Close

Monday, October 1st, 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.

Bills Approved:

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…)

Legislative Update

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…)

How To: Monitor State Legislation

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…)

The Second Year High School Science Graduation Requirement Is Safe!

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…)

Second Year Science Graduation Requirement – Update June 18, 2012

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 ScienceClick 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…)

Second Year Science Graduation Requirement – Update June 15, 2012

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…)

Second Year Science Graduation Requirement Elimination: Governor Stands Firm

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 (MarchAprilMay). 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…)

Call to Action – Science Graduation Mandate Elimination

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…)

Education Bills Make Their Way Through the Legislature as Governor Brown’s Proposal to Eliminate the Graduation Requirement Mandate Continues to Make Waves

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…)

Legislative Update

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…)

Legislative News

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…)

The Door Has Opened a Crack – Let’s Work Together to Push It Wide Open

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…)

Call to Action – Your Support Is Needed to Make the Revision of the California Science Standards Possible

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…)

Revision of Science Standards One Step Closer

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…)

SB 300 Amended for Second Time; It and SB 402 Move to Assembly Appropriations Committee

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…)

Standards, Framework, Instructional Materials, Assessment—Science-Related Bills Wend Their Way Through Legislature

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…)

Science-Related Legislation Introduced As New Session Gets Underway

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…)

Governor Brown’s Education Plans

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…)

What Lies Ahead for Science Ed.?

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…)

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