If California Relies on Obama School Discipline Policy, It Will Put Students at Risk

California legislators seek to expand a law that limits a teacher’s ability to keep order in the classroom.

Surveys find opposition to such loosened policies, and research demonstrates that ideas such as these may put students at risk and even limit student achievement. The provisions also dredge up painful questions about the relationship between recent school shootings and student discipline policies.

Under the proposal (SB 419) that legislators passed and sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature, California schools may not suspend students in grades 4 through 8 for having “disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority” of school personnel. 

The measure also amends existing law to say that educators cannot expel high school students on these grounds, and applies all of the new provisions to charter schools as well as regular public schools. Existing law already limits the use of suspension for students in grades K-3. 

Research finds that such policies can be harmful to students. Studies from Florida and Philadelphia found that leaving troubled or disruptive students in a classroom is related to negative academic outcomes for the peers of offending students. 

Media reports point to data showing that minority students in California are suspended for “defiance” at higher rates than their peers. Advocates of the change say these disparities are enough reason to limit the ways in which teachers and school officials address student misconduct.

However, research has not determined the causes for these disparities and has found other ethnic and gender differences in student discipline. 

For example, a 2017 study of North Carolina schools found that black boys were less likely to be suspended by black teachers, but researchers said the data did not allow them to determine why. Others have pointed to national data showing that white students are disciplined more than Asian students, and that teachers discipline boys more than girls. 

Variables such as violence in a student’s neighborhood or home also could be contributing factors to why some students act out more than others.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Mathematica Policy Research have suggested violent neighborhoods or gang activity concentrated in urban areas could be involved. They said “the greater frequency of violations among minority students could be caused by factors outside of the school’s purview, such as more exposure to poverty, crime, and life trauma resulting from residential and economic inequality.”

In 2016 and 2018, nationally representative surveys administered by Education Next found that more than half of respondents opposed school district policies limiting suspension and expulsion.

This topic has garnered more attention because of the school discipline policy in place when a former student took the lives of 17 students and teachers in February 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

Education officials in Broward County, which includes Parkland, had instituted a policy that limited teachers’ and other educators’ ability to suspend or expel students—similar to the California proposal. 

Heritage Foundation research last year showed that the Parkland tragedy involved individual and institutional lapses at more than one public agency, but Broward County’s school discipline policy kept turning up during the course of investigations into the causes and ensuing recommendations.

And because Broward County’s policy resembled—perhaps even inspired—Obama-era policy on school discipline, proposals to limit a teacher’s choices over how to manage his classroom deserve rigorous evaluation.

Last December, the Trump administration rescinded federal school discipline policy limiting suspensions and expulsions.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, like Newsom a Democrat, more than once vetoed legislation similar to the bill sent to his successor. In his 2018 veto letter, Brown wrote: “Teachers and principals are on the front lines educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classroom. That’s why I vetoed a similar bill in 2012.” 

The Federal Commission on School Safety’s final report last December recommending the rescission of the Obama administration policies had a similar analysis: 

“Teachers are often best positioned to identify and address disorderly conduct at school,” the report said. “They have an understanding of the students entrusted to their care and can see behavioral patterns on an ongoing basis.” 

California’s governor and lawmakers should reconsider teacher and school leaders’ efforts to protect children. Limits such as these on an educator’s ability to choose how to maintain order in the classroom puts all students at risk.

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in Heritage’s Center for Education Policy.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

Criticism of Big Tech Indicates A Political Shift

When the Attorney Generals of 48 states joined AGs from Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to announce a widespread probe of dominant technology firms, the focus here was that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra did not sign on. Yet, there is another aspect to the story that indicates a political shift occurring with some Republicans raising concerns about Big Tech and monopolies.

We are talking about the Republican Party that is supposed to be a knee-jerk defender of big business. The Attorney Generals probe, as well as a like investigation of the tech industry in Washington, is bipartisan. But some Republicans in California see an opportunity to gain support from voters who tend to favor Democrats while setting the party on a different path.

Assembly Republicans Jordan Cunningham, James Gallagher, Tom Lackey and Chad Mayes are authors of a resolution presented to the legislature that praises and encourages Congress to investigate giant technology companies on antitrust grounds, while at the same time urging the California Attorney General to work with other state AGs to curb Big Tech’s monopolistic powers.

While the resolution introduced in the last hectic days of the legislative session was not addressed, the plea to the Attorney General covered in the resolution apparently fell on deaf ears.

The Attorney Generals and Federal investigators want to see if the big technology companies are engaged in noncompetitive behavior to roadblock competition or even buy up possible competitors to gain a stranglehold on the market. With rich technology companies now scooping up businesses in different industries, this issue of monopolies is beginning to catch the public’s attention.

It wasn’t shocking that Becerra chose not to add the state’s name to the investigation since three of the top five tech companies, Google, Facebook, and Apple, call California home. 

But conspiracy theorists and reporters immediately raised questions, checking the technology sectors financial support for the Democrats in California who control the legislature and for Becerra in particular. Meanwhile, conservatives who distrust the rich entrepreneurs who largely side with Democrats politically and who feel conservative issues don’t get a fair hearing on Silicon Valley websites, approve of keeping pressure on the industry.

Not all conservatives are praising the action of the Attorney Generals. The politically engaged libertarian Koch foundations have announced ads to support the tech industry against the AGs’ investigation.

Still, we are hearing cries of dominant corporate power coming from the side of the political aisle that is most often silent on this subject. Perhaps not surprising in an era in which pages of the political playbook are being torn to pieces.

Then again, the move by Republicans to clamp down on monopolies and side with small business and consumers served some Republicans well in a different era. Teddy Roosevelt busted up trusts in his day and probably would exclaim, “Bully!” if he heard about the resolution introduced by California Republican legislators.

Joel Fox is Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

San Jose set to become largest U.S. city to enact natural gas ban

an Jose is set to become the largest city in the United States to ban natural gas from many new homes in direct contrast to the federal government’s rollback of environmental regulations.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a proposal from Mayor Sam Liccardo and four of his fellow council members to create an ordinance barring natural gas in new single-family homes, low-rise multifamily buildings and detached granny flats beginning next year.

The proposal would not affect existing homes or high-rise developments.

“Electrifying buildings is not only good for the planet, but good for our health and safety,” the mayor, Raul Peralez, Lan Diep, Magdalena Carrasco and Dev Davis wrote in a memo. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Jose Mercury News.

Will Bringing Back Redevelopment Create Additional Affordable Housing?

A bill that would revive redevelopment as a tool for local governments passed the state Legislature in the final days of the summer session on party-line votes.

Now the question is whether a so-far noncommittal Gov. Gavin Newsom will accept the claims that Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, has enough safeguards to prevent redevelopment from going as astray as the version that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature killed in 2011.

That version allowed local redevelopment agencies to divert a slice of property taxes to use on projects meant to spur the economies of “blighted” neighborhoods. If the projects boosted property tax revenue, the additional increment would go to the agencies for new projects. In 2010, some 400 redevelopment agencies diverted 12 percent of all California property taxes for their use.

‘Scams providing windfalls to cronies’

But by 2011, many investigations had found that redevelopment funds were routinely diverted to pay for City Hall salaries and that many of the projects that did get funding were those pitched by politically connected developers. Then-state Controller John Chiang said many redevelopment projects were “scams providing windfalls to political cronies.”

Many healthy businesses with prime locations had been declared “blighted” so cities could use eminent domain to seize them and hand them over to car dealerships or big-box stores which would generate the sales taxes that are a key source of revenue for city coffers.

And on top of these issues, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said there was “no reliable evidence” that redevelopment helped the economy. Instead, it attracted businesses that would have opened elsewhere without subsidies offered by local government – shuffling economic activity around, not spurring it.

New version would emphasize housing

In interviews and committee meetings, Beall has argued that a much-more focused version of redevelopment that gives at least half of diverted funds to subsidized low-income housing – up from the previous 20 percent – can help California with its housing shortage. The new program would also fund transit-oriented projects and play its old role of helping poor neighborhoods boost their economies. 

To prevent past problems with cronyism, a state oversight group would have to certify projects met basic standards before funding could be diverted.

The bill would initially allow $200 million in property taxes to be diverted annually with a phased-in upper limit of $2 billion a year. About $5 billion a year was being diverted when redevelopment was shelved by the state in 2011.

While running for governor in 2018, Newsom was supportive of reviving some form of redevelopment. But he included no funds for a new program in his initial state budget and has told reporters that his budget already includes record funding for affordable housing.

Meanwhile, while it didn’t get as many headlines as some other problems did, redevelopment’s record with creating affordable housing in California was also poor to mixed.

Old version often generated no new units

In 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that, “At least 120 municipalities – nearly one in three with active redevelopment agencies – spent a combined $700 million in housing funds from 2000 to 2008 without constructing a single new unit … .  Nor did most of them add to the housing stock by rehabilitating existing units.”

Where did the money go? The Times cited many examples of redevelopment agencies buying property that was never subsequently developed.

It also found that “nearly three dozen cities, including Monterey Park and Pismo Beach, reported spending most of their affordable housing money over the decade on ‘planning and administration’ – but never built a single unit.”

Beall’s bill passed the Senate 29-9 and the Assembly 55-19.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Iowa Becomes 11th State on California Travel Ban List

Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday extended California’s ban on taxpayer-funded trips to an 11th state, adding Iowa to the list based on the Midwestern state’s passage of a law that removed gender protections under Medicaid.

Becerra’s order means public employees and college students may not travel to Iowa under provisions of a 2016 California law.

Twelve years ago, Iowa’s Legislature made gender identity a protected characteristic under its Civil Rights Act, which prohibited refusing service to or discriminating against people based on their gender identity preferences. …

Click here to read the full article from the Fresno Bee.

Donald Trump Proposes Federal Homeless Task Force for Los Angeles, San Francisco

President Donald Trump promised to address the homelessness issue in major California cities, as he traveled to the state for a series of political fundraisers.

He suggested the creation of an “individual task force” that would address the problem.

“The people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up,” Trump said. “And we’re looking at it, and we’ll be doing something about it.”

The president spoke to reporters on Air Force One on the trip to California and confirmed that he would speak to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about the problem.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco, and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said.

He said that he spoke to foreign business investors in California who were so frustrated with the homelessness problem that they were ready to leave. He also expressed concerns about the spreading diseases in tent cities. A recent outbreak of Typhus in Los Angeles has also raised the alarm among residents.

“Our policeman that are on the beat are getting sick. They’re actually sick,” Trump said. “They’re going to the hospital. We can’t let that happen.”

Reports last week noted that the president was looking at a number of options to deal with the problem, including possibly invoking the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to declare an emergency or moving the homeless in Los Angeles to a FAA facility.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Trump to revoke California’s authority to set vehicle standards

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards, a source familiar with the plans told CNN on Tuesday, the latest move in the Trump administration’s ongoing fight with the Golden State and attempts to chip away at former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

The source said the change could come as soon as Wednesday. It’s yet another escalation in the clash between California and Trump administration. Industry watchers feared that the Trump administration’s plan to freeze federal emission standards, a rollback of tightened standards created by the Obama administration, could have led to two auto markets in the US — one subject to more restrictive California regulations and another linked to significantly less stringent federal standards.

The Trump administration has also made unraveling Obama’s environmental legacy a priority. Months after he arrived in office, President Donald Trump announced the US would leave the Paris Climate Agreement and in June he revoked the Clean Power Plan, the key regulation underpinning the US’ pledge in the landmark 2015 international agreement. The administration also recently revoked Obama’s Waters of the United States rule and has made number of other moves that would allow for increased oil and gas production on public lands. …

Click here to read the full article from CNN.com

Assembly Bill 1451 is an Attack on Direct Democracy

The tools of direct democracy — initiative, referendum and recall — are a powerful check against intransigent or corrupt politicians. These powers are enshrined in the California Constitution for reasons that are just as compelling in 2019 as they were in 1911. That’s when Governor Hiram Johnson, seeking to constrain the absolute control the railroads had over the state Capitol, pushed to give ordinary citizens a “legislative battering ram” — using the language of the Supreme Court — to address issues that for whatever reason the legislature refuses to address.

Political elites abhor direct democracy. From their perspective it allows the great unwashed and unsophisticated to deal with matters such as taxation, victims’ rights, insurance and most importantly political reform. These are issues over which politicians strongly desire to exercise a legislative monopoly. The latest assault on Californians’ rights to initiative and referendum is Assembly Bill 1451, introduced by Asm. Evan Low, D-Campbell, which has already cleared both houses of the California Legislature. Gov. Newsom should veto it.

AB1451 erects roadblocks to initiative qualification by requiring that at least 10 percent of the petition signatures come from unpaid sources and also by banning paid signature gathering on a per-signature basis. While backers claim that this will reduce fraud, this justification doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

According to the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit, between 1994 and 2010, the EFIU opened 240 cases for falsifying petitions, of which 46 were sent to district attorneys for prosecution, resulting in less than 35 convictions. During that same timeframe, over 100 initiatives were placed on the ballot requiring tens of millions of signatures.

Supporters also argue that eliminating paid-per-signature gathering and moving to compensation based on an hourly rate will help decrease money in politics. The opposite is true. By removing the financial incentive to collect signatures in the most efficient manner possible, the initiative process will further be skewed to special interests. …

To read the entire column, please click here.

California’s New Rent Control Law Will Set Back Housing Construction and Affordability

Less than a year after California voters rejected rent control in a statewide ballot proposition, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation imposing it. For rental units 15 years or older, rent increases will be limited to 5 percent annually. The negative consequences of the new law are extensive. Older buildings, likely to require the most maintenance, will fail to recover costs—leading to “shabbification.” New construction, desperately needed in a state with an estimated housing shortage of millions of units, will also dwindle. Developers confront a future with limited returns on investment. And, as always with rent control, incumbent renters—assured cheap housing, regardless of their income—will benefit, while newcomers see only “no vacancy” signs.

How to explain such a policy? Legislators, no doubt, hear complaints from tenants struggling with rising rents, but California’s ill-advised action has deeper causes. The state has failed to convince, or coerce, local governments to permit the construction of new, relatively low-cost housing—or much housing at all. The Yimby (Yes in My Backyard) movement, led by State Senator Scott Wiener, sought to provide financial incentives for municipalities to permit new building along transit lines and commercial corridors. But municipalities have shown limited interest in “up-zoning” to permit housing other than single-family homes. Mostly zoned for one-family properties, places like San Jose have some of the nation’s highest housing prices.  

Persuading localities to change—or at least to relax so-called exactions, or required public improvements imposed on new developments—remains challenging. Homeowners benefit mightily from the status quo, as prices for one-time starter homes shoot over $1 million—and Proposition 13, a tax cap that ensures home values rise as property taxes remain stagnant, insulates them from dynamics that, in most parts of the country, compel empty-nesters to consider moving out. The roots of NIMBY-ism are bipartisan: environmentalists impose rules and costs, while older homeowners shield themselves from market forces and shift local costs to the state, through income and sales taxes. Rent control is a conspiracy of entitled incumbents. Now count entitled tenants among them.

Change should begin with an effort to persuade locals that some construction is crucial, especially to retain longtime residents and recruit employers. Encouragingly, some localities have started permitting construction of “accessory-dwelling units”—so-called granny flats—that let incumbent homeowners move out and sell their home but live on the same site. What won’t break the logjam is a push to site subsidized “affordable” housing in affluent communities. Socioeconomic sorting is a fact of life, and the middle class reacts badly to having the poor as neighbors. From their perspective, townhouses, two-family homes, and other rungs on the housing ladder are far preferable.

Meantime, shambolic housing policies such as California’s latest version of rent control will only make everything harder. It will likely take a crisis—perhaps an exodus of businesses and residents—to force change. 

Howard Husock, a City Journal contributing editor, is the author of the new book, Who Killed Civil Society: The Rise of Big Government and Decline of Bourgeois Norms.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

California state lawmakers pass bill requiring public universities to offer abortion pill on campus

The California State Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation to require public universities in the state to offer medication abortion at on-campus student health centers. 

The body voted to pass Senate Bill 24 in a 55-19 voted on Friday, several months after the state Senate first voted to approve the measure in May. 

According to The New York Times, 34 college campuses in the state would be affected by the legislation, if passed, which seeks to require “each student health care services clinic on a California State University or University of California campus to offer abortion by medication techniques.”

“The bill would require the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls to administer the College Student Health Center Sexual and Reproductive Health Preparation Fund, which the bill would establish,” the bill states. …

Click here to read the full article from The Hill.