Building on the Administration’s commitment to focus on proposals that benefit the state’s parents, families and children, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation to expand protections to students in the state’s K-12 public schools.
“Creating a ‘California for All’ means ensuring schools are inclusive, accepting, and welcoming of all kids. These bills help move us closer to that goal,” said Governor Newsom.
Earlier this year, Napa County elementary school student Ryan Kyote called national attention to how kids at his school were shamed and singled out because of inadequate funds in their school lunch accounts. He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, “alternative” lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers. Governor Newsom met with Kyote earlier this year and committed to working on the issue.
SB 265 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) outlaws that practice, ensuring all students receive a state reimbursable meal of their choice, even if their parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees. Specifically, SB 265 amends the Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 to require all local educational agencies, including school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools that provide free and reduced meals, to invalidate policies that call for a student whose parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees be given an alternative meal.
“I want to thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue,” added Governor Newsom.
AB 493 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) asks the California Department of Education to develop resources to be used for in-service training for public school teachers and certified employees that will focus on supporting 7th through 12th grade lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students. The training is to ensure teachers are better prepared and equipped to effectively intervene and assist LGBTQ students against verbal and/or physical harassment, which may impact their school performance and attendance.
Additionally, Governor Newsom signed AB 982 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) to require teachers in public and charter schools to provide homework assignments to the parent or guardian of a student that has been suspended for two or more schooldays, upon request. This ensures the student does not fall behind on schoolwork or grades. Suspensions disproportionately affect students of color. While African American students account for only 5.8 percent of the state’s public school enrollment, they represented 17.8 percent of students who were suspended in 2018.
Governor Newsom has taken several actions to benefit students and parents in his first nine months in office. In May, the Governor and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom launched the “Parents Agenda” as part of a broader affordability push to help address some of the cost of living issues faced by California parents. Under the “Parents Agenda,” the Governor signed a sales tax and use exemption for diapers and menstrual products, increased child care and increased the state Earned Income Tax Credit for kids under the age of six. The Governor has also made historic investments in health care affordability and signed AB 1482 (Chiu) to establish a 5 percent annual rent cap, plus inflation, coupled with just-cause protections – the strongest renter protections in the nation. Additionally, the 2019 Budget Act included a Parents Agenda addressing specific cost-of-living issues faced by parents:
- Expands paid family leave from six to eight weeks for each parent or caretaker of a newborn child, potentially allowing a child to benefit from as much as four months of paid family leave. This will bring California closer to the goal of six months of paid family leave, helping more workers, especially lower-wage workers, who pay into the system take the benefits
- Puts California on the path to provide universal access to preschool for all four-year olds and full-day kindergarten, including funding for child care workers, expanding state-subsidized facilities and increasing slots
- Provides resources for lower-income parents, including: home-visiting services, black infant health programs, developmental and trauma screenings, temporary cash assistance to families with children to meet basic needs, child savings accounts to support future higher education expenses and a sales tax exemption on diapers and menstrual products
- Establishing or increasing Cal Grant Access Awards for student parents attending the University of California, California State University, or California Community Colleges. This two-generation approach will help students complete their education, increase their future earning potential, and provide additional support to their children.
- Made highest-ever investment in K-14 education, including approximately $5,000 more per K-12 pupil than eight years ago
- Invests $90 million to recruit and retain qualified educators to teach in a high-need field at priority schools and address California’s teacher shortage, and $43.8 million to provide training and resources for classroom teachers and paraprofessionals to build capacity around key state priorities
- Supports students with specialized needs by providing a 19.3-percent increase in funding for special education.