2020 brings new laws and budget proposals that impact education. Here are some highlights to be aware of and to watch.
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office the California Budget continues to stay healthy with an anticipated $7 billion-dollar surplus for 2020-21. While the State’s finances look good in the short-term, the Legislative Analyst’s Office does recommend the State use a considerable portion of this funding to pay down debt held by the State and put money aside to assist California in preparing for future recessions as economists watch as signs of an economic slowdown develop.
Still, keep an eye out for potential increases up to $2.1 billion to State education funding for 2020-21. Look for allocations to assist with providing a Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) and monies to offset increases to the State Teacher Retirement System (STRS), Public Employee Retiree System (PERS), and Special Education.
See pages 8 and 16-17 of the full report here for specific information regarding education funding.
California Laws That Impact Education and Technology
Assembly Bill 272, Student Smartphone Use
AB 272 allows, but does not require, school districts to adopt policy to limit or prohibit student smartphone use at school. The same legislation also provides students’ rights to have and to use a smartphone while at school. Specifically, students shall not be denied access to their smartphone at school a) during an emergency or perceived threat of danger; b) when a teacher or administrator gives students permission to use a cell phone with limitations allowed to be set by the person providing the permission; and c) as needed for the health or well-being of a student, as determined by a medical professional and as defined by a student’s IEP. Educators should be mindful of this law in any attempt to confiscate phones from students.
Policy updates should be considerate of classroom smartphone use for instructional purposes, as well as students’ right to free speech and parents’ expectations for communication with their children.
AB 982 Suspension Homework
AB 982 requires all teachers to provide homework assignments to suspended students, upon request. The intention is to support students in not falling behind with their work. Consider how modern technology tools can assist with this requirement, easing the communication process, work assignment, submission, and feedback process.
AB 605: Special Education Assistive Technology Devices
AB 605 requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to allow students to use school-purchased assistive technology devices at the student’s home and in the community if the IEP team decides that access to the device(s) is necessary for the student to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). In addition, the law requires that the equipment and/or devices be available for the student’s use up to two months after the student leaves the school program through which it has been provided. Essential to the IEP team decision is whether the student may obtain educational benefit from the assistive technology while they are not in school. For example, would the student lose access to their voice by taking away a text-to-speech device?
Notable Federal Budget Allocation Requests for Education
While the President’s proposed Federal Budget Request eliminates funding for 29 programs, it also includes $64 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, with an emphasis on 1) Increased access to school choice; 2) Supporting high-need students through essential formula grant programs; 3) Protecting students by promoting safe and secure schools; 4) Elevating the teaching profession through innovation; 5) Promoting workforce development for the 21st century, and 6) Streamlining and improving postsecondary aid programs.
Keep an eye on the priorities to Elevate the Teaching Profession Through Innovation and to Promote Workforce Development for the 21st Century.
Elevate the Teaching Profession Through Innovation
The President’s overall budget request calls for a 10% reduction in federal funding for schools as well as a $5 billion tax credit proposal. Taxpayers would be able to contribute to the program in exchange for federal tax credits to fund school choice. $300 million has been requested for Education Innovation and Research, an increase of $170 million. The focus of this funding is intended to support “rigorously evaluated demonstrations of teacher-driven professional development.” Teachers would receive stipends to select training opportunities to meet their personal professional learning needs.
$200.0 million is being requested for the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grant program to improve teacher induction programs, recognize and reward teaching excellence. This program is intended to support performance-based compensation systems.
Promote Workforce Development for the 21st Century
$1.3 billion is being requested for Career and Technical Education (CTE) State Grants to promote and improve career and technical education (CTE) in high schools, technical schools, and community colleges.
$20.0 million, an increase of $12.6 million, is being requested for CTE National Program funding with the intent of including the newly authorized Innovation and Modernization Grants that focus on incorporating STEM fields with an emphasis on computer science.