September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Science Sees a Few Victories in End of Legislative Session

Posted: 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.

ACR 88 (Torlakson), a CSTA co-sponsored bill which establishes a STEM legislative task force, finally made it out of the Senate Education Committee, after having been held for months for an unknown reason.  The bill was passed by both houses of the legislature and is now enacted.  CSTA is part of the group, including the American Chemical Society, the California Math Council, and BSMARTE, that is recommending members for the task force.  We’ll keep you posted as the task force moves to center stage.

AJR 39 (Beall & Torlakson) is a joint resolution co-sponsored by the California Council for the Social Studies and CSTA that requires the legislature to encourage the development of common core standards for social studies and science.  The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the entities that developed the common core reading and math standards; this resolution  requires that a letter be sent to the two organizations urging them to do the same for social studies and science.  The bill passed both houses of the legislature and, as a resolution, doesn’t need to be signed by the governor.

AB 391 (Torlakson) is another last-year-bill that was resurrected from the  Senate Education Committee, where it has languished since last year, in the final days of the legislature.  This bill requires the State Superintendent to contract for an independent evaluation of the STAR program.  This bill passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk; at this writing, it’s not known whether he plans to sign it.  CSTA supported this bill.

SB 1444 (Hancock) defines STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—as “courses or a sequence of courses that prepare pupils for occupations and careers that require technically sophisticated skills, including the application of mathematical and scientific skills and concepts” and goes on to describe STEM education in grades 1-6 as “foundational courses” leading to success in “applied” courses in grades 7-12.  The bill states “the intent of the legislature” that the SPI use STEM funds for programs consistent with the definition above.  CSTA supported the bill.

In a stunning turn of events, SB 1278 (Wyland) which would have restarted work on the history-social science framework that was halted last year, was killed without explanation in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  This bill originally called for the resumption of work on both the history and science frameworks, but was amended to resume only history.  The Department of Education, which sponsored the bill, apparently assured the legislature that because the history framework was completely finished and just had to be sent out for public comment, it could absorb the costs of completing the history framework within its current budget.  But even though it had no costs associated with it, the Assembly Appropriations Committee wanted to hear it anyway—and there it sat until it was dead.  It’s been hinted that there was some behind-the-scenes warfare between staff members of the Appropriations Committee and the Department of Finance, so although passage of the bill seemed to be a sure bet for the legislators, as there was no money attached to it, staff called the shots on it for, apparently, personal reasons.

’10-’11 Budget Bill

The legislative version of the 2010-2011 budget bill includes $144K for the completion of the science and history-social science frameworks.  Of course, we are still in the early days of budget negotiations (even though the budget is a couple of months overdue), so we can’t count on this money remaining, and we can count even less on the governor not to blue pencil it if it passes the legislature.  Keep checking back here for updates on this and other legislation.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. Re. SB 1278:
    I was on the science framework review committee – great bunch of educators and sci/tech people. Stunned when it was cancelled AND never got re-imbursed for the expenses I incurred to attend.

    It’s dire for Ca science ed UNLESS we get the great-looking National Standards which are in development. So maybe in the end it doesn’t matter. But how sad that our students get their futures held up with this political in-fighting.

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California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Written by Peter AHearn

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