Here’s what San Francisco’s highest-paid workers make

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

The City of San Francisco employed 39,634 people in 2016 (including part-time and construction workers), and the total spent on their salaries and benefits in 2016 was $4,262,344,675, according to the Office of the Controller.

That’s about the same amount as the budget for the state of Delaware, which has a population of 945,000 (100,000 more than San Francisco’s).

Salaries have increased 18.5 percent since 2012, and benefits have gone up 18.6 percent.

A deal announced by Supervisor Jane Kim and Mayor Ed Lee today will make San Francisco the first city in the nation to make community college free to all city residents.

The average salary (excluding benefits) per city employee is $83,227.14. A recent study found you need an estimated $110,357 salary to live comfortably in San Francisco. …

Click here to read the full story

Why some cities won’t be paying Los Angeles’ new homeless tax

800px-Helping_the_homelessLos Angeles County’s sky-high sales tax will rise not once, but twice, this year.

In recent elections, Angelinos voted two new tax hikes upon themselves — one to fund transportation (Measure M) and the other to fight homelessness (Measure H).

As a result, the county’s 8.75 percent tax rate jumped to 9.25 percent on July 1. It’ll rise even further — to 9.5 percent — on October 1.

Of course, some cities in Los Angeles County have even higher tax rates. Seven of them — Compton, La Mirada, Long Beach, Lynwood, Pico Rivera, Santa Monica and South Gate — have rates of 10.25 percent that are among the highest in California, if not the entire nation.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Rather than increase their tax rates another quarter cent on October 1 like the rest of the county, those seven normally tax-loving cities will get a free pass — at least for now — in funding the fight against homelessness.

The seven cities will, of course, benefit from the estimated $355 million in annual tax payments the measure will raise but they will do so only by the courtesy of taxpayers in other cities. It’s a subsidy, plain and simple.

Why was Measure H drafted this way?

It appears to have been a rather clumsy attempt to dodge a state law capping local sales taxes. The law requires localities to limit voter-approved “district” sales taxes to 2 percent (on top of the state rate of 7.25 percent) unless they obtain specific legislative authorization.

Los Angeles County has received legislative approval twice in the past to increase this limit for transportation-related taxes. For some unknown reason, Measure H proponents didn’t want to bother with this step.

But the poor planning came back to bite them. Proponents claimed the new tax would take effect July 1, at the same time as Measure M. That would have been a lot simpler for everyone, including business owners who must now go through the trouble of reprogramming their registers twice to adapt to the rate increases.

Since the Measure H language was both unprecedented and legally questionable, the Board of Equalization rightly refused to collect the tax until the Legislature specifically voted to authorize it.

These delays have pushed back the start date of Measure H, resulting in lost funding for the fight against homelessness, and more confusion and headaches for taxpayers.

Even more troubling is the dangerous precedent this sets statewide. Will other local governments soon craft tax proposals that exempt politically-favored constituencies?

We believe the cap on local sales taxes exists to protect taxpayers and should be respected. Not every good cause merits a tax increase.

Governments are hungry for more taxpayer revenue, and seem increasingly impatient to add more and more taxes. They are also becoming more creative at disguising their efforts, and using public dollars to pay for them. The Fair Political Practices Commission, for example, is conducting an investigation into whether the county of Los Angeles illegally spent taxpayer dollars for political advocacy in its campaign for Measure H.

Before asking voters to approve more and more taxes, shouldn’t local governments identify and eliminate ineffective taxes that haven’t accomplished their promised goals?

If taxpayers are concerned about how local governments spend their money, then that question is certainly worth asking. If not, how else do we ensure taxpayers receive value for the dollars they are already paying?

George Runner is vice chair of the California State Board of Equalization. Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

School Segregation: Does it still exist?

School education“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Those words were uttered in 1963 by Alabama’s George Wallace in his first inaugural address as governor of what is sometimes called the Cotton State.

Actually, legally-based segregation in America’s public schools was ruled unconstitutional in May 1954, when the United States Supreme Court, in an unanimous decision, banned the separation of public-school pupils by race.

In a case known as Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas), the nine Supreme Court justices ruled that state laws permitting the separation of students by race were unconstitutional.

The court overturned an 1896 High Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed states to segregate public-school pupils by race.  The Plessy ruling permitted racial segregation by race as long as separate schools for whites and blacks provided essentially equal education.

In 1954, the High Court said: “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Today, more than six decades after the High Court’s desegregation decision, segregation is still an issue.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a group of residents inside the Mt. Diablo Unified School District wants to secede from the district and form a new district called the Northgate Unified School District.

The Mt. Diablo district is 35 miles east of San Francisco. The district, which is ethnically diverse, includes the cities of Concord and Clayton. It also covers parts of Pleasant Hill, Lafayette, Martinez and Walnut Creek. The district is located in Contra Costa County.

The new Northgate district, if established, would include parts – generally affluent parts – of Concord and Walnut Creek.

Supporters of the Northgate plan have gathered more than 6,000 signatures from registered voters and are seeking permission from officials of Contra Costa County and the state of California to allow a public vote on the secession plan.

On June 26, 2017, according to the East Bay Times (June 28 edition), about 70 people rallied against the secession movement.

The school secession movement is not new. In Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, school secession movements do not require approval from any county or state authority.

According to U.S. News and World Report (June 21, 2017), school secession movements seek to protect white, wealthy communities from areas where the population is poorer and perhaps contains non-white individuals.

High-income parents have always had the option of choosing private schools for their children.  Two examples stand out. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, during their White House years, sent their daughter, Chelsea, to the Sidwell Friends School, a highly selective, private Quaker school which has locations in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. The two daughters of President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle also attended Sidwell. Presumably, neither president wanted to send his children to the public schools in Washington, D.C.

In the last 30 to 40 years, many public schools in the United States have come under attack, often because these schools are accused of providing inferior education.

However, affluent parents, especially those who do not necessarily have the funds or the desire to send their children to private schools, often move to communities where the public schools have a reputation for quality. In the East Bay region of San Francisco, communities like Danville, Orinda and Lafayette have public schools known for excellence.  These communities are largely white but also contain a smattering of Asians.

Segregation can also exist within a given school district that may – or may not – have affluent parents. Using a system called “tracking,” students are assigned to classes based on academic achievement. Tracking may separate students into such categories as “above average,” “average” or “below average.”

So, despite what the U.S. Supreme Court did in 1954, public-school segregation, even though banned by law, can still exist.

Two major questions are: (1) Will government intervene to stop public-school segregation on the basis of where parents live?  (2) Will government outlaw a public school’s separating students on the basis of academic ability?

California Republicans sweat Trump effect

Travis-Allen-Associated-PressSAN FRANCISCO — Republicans running for governor in the Democratic stronghold of California face a myriad of challenges. One of the them is how to handle the issue of Donald Trump.

Travis Allen, an assemblyman who announced his bid last week to succeed Jerry Brown as the state’s next governor, argues that he’s already a standout — of the three leading Republicans in the race, he alone proudly admits voting for the president.

“There were 4.4 million Republicans in California who voted for Trump, and they are looking for real leadership in California,” Allen told POLITICO last week as he tooled around the state’s highways on a campaign trip.

He said the reluctance of the leading GOP challengers — millionaire businessman John Cox and former Assemblyman David Hadley — to embrace Trump and his positions “may not sit very well with Republicans who are voting come June 2018.”

Yet at the same time, the deep animus toward Trump in California makes embracing him a difficult proposition for any candidate who hopes to win a general election. Together, it’s presenting a thorny situation for GOP candidates as the state’s marquee 2018 race ramps up.

In an overwhelmingly blue state — where Democrats hold a 19-point voter registration edge over Republicans — leading Democratic contenders like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin are busy collecting donors’ checks and are widely covered by major media outlets.

By contrast, the GOP candidates in California are relative unknowns who, on top of a party registration gap, face the hurdles of the state’s “top two” primary system — which calls for the top two vote-getters of either party to advance to the general election. In a crowded gubernatorial field, that drastically decreases their chances of making it to the general election.

And this year, the Republican candidates have the added “Trump factor” to contend with.

Thanks to Trump — whose approval rating in California is just 27 percent and who lost the popular vote by 4 million votes here — getting to the governorship is “almost an insurmountable mountain for Republicans to climb,’’ said USC political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.

The delicate formula for victory involves backing Trump enough to please the party’s base — volunteers and donors who are critical to success — while not alienating the independents, 1 in 4 state voters who could make the winning difference in the general election.

Jim Lacy, a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention and author of “Taxifornia: Liberals’ Laboratory to Bankrupt California,” frankly acknowledges that “if a Republican candidate went out and fully embraced Trump, and shouted through the state that they’re Trump’s candidate for governor,” it would almost certainly end their chances to make it to the state’s general election.

But he says there’s a way to thread the needle — though to have any chance of victory, a California Republican must have the backing of the loyal GOP grass-roots activists and donors who can make or break a campaign here.

“Even though many of them didn’t like Trump, they voted for him because they are tried-and-true Republicans,’’ Lacy said. Allen alone “can very proudly say he voted for the GOP candidate — and that these other folks who say they are Republican haven’t done so.”

Hadley — a moderate who has in the past won the backing of millionaire donor Charles Munger Jr. — told the Los Angeles Times recently that he didn’t vote for Trump in the 2016 election. The former assemblyman said he hopes to appeal to voters who may be willing to cross party lines and that he will soon announce endorsements from more than 20 GOP members of the legislature.

Cox, in a past interview with POLITICO, declined to say for whom he cast his vote, though he said last week that he is glad Hillary Clinton didn’t win, because she “would have been a disaster.”

But Cox, who ran for both U.S. Senate and president in Illinois before he moved to California — and has never been elected to office — has wholly embraced the Trumpian notion that an outsider can offer fresh solutions and break up the stale government insiders’ hold on Sacramento. “I’m a businessman, not a politician,’’ he said, a line that comes directly from Trump’s playbook. “I’m running to clean out the barn.”

Yet he’s also carefully attempted to distance himself from some of the president’s more controversial moves — his tweets, for example. “Take a look at my Twitter feed,’’ he said, when asked about Trump’s critiques of the media, TV personalities and the intelligence community. “My tweets are positive … that’s the tenor of what you’ll see coming out of me. … I’m not going to comment on the president.”

All three GOP candidates accuse Democrats — who hold supermajorities in both houses of the California legislature — of overreaching, and Brown of failing to keep them in check. Despite the open hostility of many California political leaders to Trump, Allen argues Democrats and independents are not all in lockstep with the “State of Resistance” agenda on issues like sanctuary cities.

“A friendly relationship with the White House could only benefit California’’ in areas like infrastructure, jobs and federal funding, Allen said.

“It’s up to the government in California to take care of our state first and foremost,’’ he said. “And this is what has been completely lacking with the Democrat leadership in Sacramento — from Jerry Brown to [Senate President] Kevin de Leon to [Attorney General] Xavier Becerra. They have taken an antagonistic stance, regardless of the detrimental effect to the state, and it’s gotta change.”

Allen cites Brown’s recent support for an increase in the state gas tax, which he argues is unpopular and won’t solve the state’s traffic gridlock problems. He also points to sanctuary cities — a concept that polls show is not nearly as popular as Democrats suggest, he argues.

“There is a widely held misconception that the Democrats are invincible in California,’’ he said “But there is a silent supermajority that has been marginalized and forgotten by Jerry Brown and the ruling Democrats. These are the people who are screaming at their TVs every night and can’t understand why their politicians aren’t listening to them.’’

Allen said he’s already lined up party-slate mailers that will reach 14 million of those voters by the fall — an advantage he argues will give him a major advantage over his fellow Republicans in a state with eight major media markets where TV spots are among the most expensive in the country.

But even that may not be enough. On the fundraising front, Democrats have raised more than $20 million to date — and front-runner Newsom alone has banked more than $10 million. By contrast, GOP front-runner Cox, who says he’s putting $3 million of his own money in the race, last week announced he has raised $202,000 — the most to date in the Republican field.

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen, who was an adviser to former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, says popular San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer dashed the Republican Party’s hopes recently by insisting again that he won’t enter the race, so “there is not an alpha in the field.” As a result, Republican candidates will get even less attention.

Which means “until any of these candidates show serious money or the ability to raise their name recognition, let’s forget about Donald Trump,” Whalen said. “He’s the least of their problems.”

This article was originally published by Politico.com

California Closer to Becoming ‘Sanctuary State’

The California State Assembly Judiciary Committee approved Democrats’ so-called “sanctuary state” bill on Wednesday, over the objections of law enforcement groups and Democrat-leaning sheriffs’ unions.

According to the Courthouse News Service (CNS), State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) claims that his Senate Bill 54, the “California Values Act,” is designed to prohibit all law enforcement in California from any and all cooperation with what he has dubbed the “Trump Deportation Machine.”

Earlier this year, De León told the committee that “half his family is in the country illegally” and that his relatives regularly commit identity theft in order to work in the U.S.

For De León, the new bill is all about Trump. He reportedly said that if another Republican had won the presidency, his bill would not be necessary.

De León insists that his bill “doesn’t safeguard” criminals, but Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, current president of the California Sheriffs Association, disagrees:

“We believe this bill provides sanctuary to criminals and makes our communities less safe,” Brown reportedly said. “SB 54 would result in many dangerous criminal offenders being released to our streets without proper communication and cooperation with immigration authorities.”

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a substantively similar bill (AB 1081) in 2012. In his veto letter, Brown wrote, “I am unable to sign this bill as written,” saying the bill barred cooperation in some instances he believes were serious. “I believe it’s unwise to interfere with a sheriff’s discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records,” he explained.

In spite of the fact that a many of the criminal alien gang members arrested in recent raids in Los Angeles had gang ties to the notoriously brutal El Salvadoran prison gang known as MS-13, and had committed serious crimes previously, almost all of them would, arguably, have been shielded by SB 54 if it were currently the law.

Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and author, currently on a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless. He ran for governor in 2014.

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.donnelly.12/

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

At What Point Will We Say Politics Is Out of Control?

It’s no secret people are not excited over President Trump, and tensions are high among supporters and dissidents alike about the current situation in Washington. Debates over the health care bill (in every iteration), social issues and gun rights have lost all logical merit, and we are starting to see similar tendencies in state governments, who are clinging to as much agency as possible in these interesting times.

But now we’ve reached the point of violence; violence that could have been prevented with less partisanship and better discourse. Political gamesmanship has gotten out of control, for both politicians and fervent supporters. This seems to be a known fact, but when we will finally accept it? When will we finally accept politics are out of control?

Politics Over Policy, Party Over Country

How many representatives vote against their own party? Outside of Democrats in more conservative districts and Republicans fearing backlash in districts without a strong base, barely any, and when someone does break ranks, it is for sure-to-pass bills or when the risk of a scandal is just too high. While political parties were formed in part to organize ideas and provide a united front to defend them (much to the chagrin of some of the founding fathers), the fact that representatives have little individual voice is concerning, most of all to constituents from districts that stand to be most affected by legislation.

Is party loyalty not turning into a great cost to America? What bipartisan efforts have we seen coming from Congress? The only things of note this writer could find were a mental health bill passed last year and a budget that’s necessary for the government to run in the first place. Business as usual has become no business at all, and conservative ideas won’t fly if they come from a liberal, and vice versa. Policy has become about the person, not the benefit to society.

Legal Corruption and Rigging the Game

Gerrymandering is doing nothing to improve democracy, both at the state level and federally. It encourages pandering exclusively to a party base, silencing moderate and centrist voices that keep radicals out of office and limit partisanship.

On top of that, the concept of a judge as a political appointment has escalated, with court appointments and resignations playing out like a chess board, and some appointment periods growing far longer than the constitution intended. These types of actions extend beyond terms and are clear efforts to entrench policy and power. It removes the American people’s ability to react to changes and political gestures.

People Are Afraid

People are doing everything they can to stay safe from real and perceived threats, but without organization or an acknowledgment of reality, what can they do? They can stay private from snooping and attempt to make an impact on the local level, but there is an entrenched attitude in Washington that is toxic and is only spreading fear.

Now people are afraid of their own government, with some talking of it as a police state or a country ruled by a tyrant. The narrative being spun by both sides of the media is that we’re headed towards disaster and that every action is taking us one step closer. It seems like we’ve been in a constant state of disaster or emergency for the last 15 years. People have either acclimated and stopped caring, which is bad if there’s a real disaster, or have lived in a state of panic, which makes them easily controlled.

Is it time to say enough’s enough?

There is a growing trend in this country towards the irrational and towards an utter breakdown of political discourse. Some people (likely justifiably) think that politics is completely out of control and that America needs to focus its efforts on finding a new, healthier political norm. Yet that isn’t going to happen until the voting public comes together and makes their voice heard at every level.

What do you plan on doing to raise the standard? Do you think that the current political situation is out of control? Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.

Sandra is a writer and blogger who focuses on political topics and technological issues. Having lived in California for several years, she is seeing more division than ever within the state’s borders.

California’s High-Capacity Magazine Confiscation Halted by Judge

PETALUMA, CA - APRIL 02: Boxes of 9mm and .223 rifle ammuntion sit on the counter at Sportsmans Arms on April 2, 2013 in Petaluma, California. In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacare, California State lawmakers are introducing several bills that propose taxing and regulating sales of ammunition. Another bill is aimed to require a background check and annual permit fee to purchase any ammunition. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As of July 1, all that stands between the state of California and the criminalization of thousands of previously law-abiding state citizens is the opinion of a single federal judge. In a 66-page order, Judge Roger Benitez temporarily blocked a new California law that required citizens to surrender possession of any gun magazine capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Remember how gun-controllers mock conservatives who claim that progressives really want to confiscate lawfully owned weapons? Well, someone forgot to tell California progressives to hide their radical cards. Last year the state amended its criminal law. It already banned the sale and transfer of large-capacity magazines. The new law applied to those magazines that were grandfathered in, legally possessed under previous law. As of July 1, 2017, any person who keeps a lawfully purchased and lawfully possessed large-capacity magazine risks a fine and up to one year in a county jail. Or, to quote the judge, “On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime.”

The law, however, does play favorites. It exempts “active and retired law enforcement officers” (but not members of the military), “employees of armored car businesses” and — incredibly — “movie and television actors when magazines are used as a prop.” Not even social justice can stop the Hollywood gravy train.

The little people, however, have but three choices: take the magazine out of the state (I’ll gladly accept donations to my Tennessee stash), sell it to a licensed firearm dealer, or surrender it to law enforcement for destruction. To absolutely no one’s surprise, gun owners appear to be resisting the law. A Sacramento Bee report summarizes their mood: “Talk to gun owners, retailers and pro-gun sheriffs across California and you’ll get something akin to an eye roll when they’re asked if gun owners are going to voluntarily part with their property because Democratic politicians and voters who favor gun control outnumber them and changed the law.”

The Bee quoted UCLA professor Adam Winkler who noted that gun owners tend to “ignore” magazine bans. “We see no compliance from gun owners,” he said. “As best as we can tell, no gun owners are giving up their high capacity magazines or selling them out of state.”

In fact, blue-state gun owners are becoming known for their passive resistance. When Connecticut required registration of so-called assault weapons, as few as 15 percent of assault-weapon owners complied.

Thanks to Judge Benitez, California’s gun owners have a brief reprieve. His opinion should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment. Judge Benitez, quite simply, “gets it,” and his opinion is a tour de force that not only critiques Ninth Circuit jurisprudence (even as he applies it), it also eviscerates claims that California’s ban will have any meaningful impact on public safety.

The law’s advocates claim that large-capacity magazines don’t have “legitimate self-defense value.” Judge Benitez responds with actual evidence of their use in self-defense. The law’s advocates claim that studies of mass shootings show that large-capacity magazines render mass shootings particularly dangerous. Judge Benitez takes apart those studies, showing that the impact of large-capacity magazines is exaggerated and that the evidence is woefully deficient that banning them would have any meaningful impact on public safety:

To sum up, of the 92 mass killings occurring across the 50 states between 2013 and 2009, only ten occurred in California. Of those ten, the criminalization and dispossession requirements of section 32310 of the new law would have had no effect on eight of the shootings, and only marginal good effects had it been in effect at the time of the remaining two shootings. On this evidence, section 32310 is not a reasonable fit. It hardly fits at all. It appears on this record to be a haphazard solution likely to have no effect on an exceedingly rare problem, while at the same time burdening the constitutional rights of other California law-abiding responsible citizen-owners of gun magazines holding more than ten rounds.

Moreover, the Court directly addresses a vital purpose of the Second Amendment — that it stands as a firewall against tyranny. If a state removes effective, commonly used weaponry from public use, that firewall starts to crumble. This summary paragraph is near-perfect:

Violent gun use is a constitutionally-protected means for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals. The phrase “gun violence” may not be invoked as a talismanic incantation to justify any exercise of state power. Implicit in the concept of public safety is the right of law-abiding people to use firearms and the magazines that make them work to protect themselves, their families, their homes, and their state against all armed enemies, foreign and domestic. To borrow a phrase, it would indeed be ironic if, in the name of public safety and reducing gun violence, statutes were permitted to subvert the public’s Second Amendment rights — which may repel criminal gun violence and which ultimately ensure the safety of the Republic.

The case will move quickly to the Ninth Circuit, where gun owners’ prospects are more grim. Ninth Circuit case law is hopelessly convoluted. Indeed, it seems deliberately engineered to provide maximum flexibility to progressive state and local governments while still providing a veneer of judicial review. One hopes that the Supreme Court will break its recent habit of refusing to review gun cases and step in once again on the side of the Bill of Rights.

As I’ve written before, California is seceding from the Constitution. It is systematically attacking individual liberty in favor of secular progressive collectivism. First Amendment rights are already under comprehensive assault, and now it seeks to cross the Second Amendment Rubicon — moving from gun “control” to outright confiscation of previously lawfully owned magazines.

Gun owners are right to resist this law. The court was right to block it. As Judge Benitez noted, if he didn’t enjoin the statute, then “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of otherwise law-abiding citizens will have an untenable choice: become an outlaw or dispossess one’s self of lawfully acquired property. That is a choice they should not have to make. Not on this record.” To that I would simply add, not under this Constitution. California’s law cannot stand.

READ MORE:

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.

This article was originally published by National Review Online

Education update: Votes coming on teacher tenure, for-profit charters, other key bills

School educationBetween now and July 21, when they take a month off, state legislators will have to decide the fate of bills that passed one chamber of the Legislature and await action in the other. Among those are key education bills that would lengthen teacher probation periods, require more accounting for spending under the Local Control Funding Formula, mandate a later start time for middle and high schools and further restrict student suspensions. What follows is a summary of the bills EdSource is following.

Funding formula transparency

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires that school districts provide data on state and federal spending by school in more detail than before. AB 1321, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, would go further, requiring a school-by-school breakdown of state spending by the Local Control Funding Formula’s component parts: base, supplemental and concentration funding. The latter two components are allocated to a district based on the proportion of English learners and low-income, homeless and foster children enrolled.

Why it’s important: Weber and student advocacy groups argue the public needs to know if schools with large proportions of high-needs students are getting money intended to go to them. In some districts, that’s clear. In most, it is not. Gov. Jerry Brown and school management groups counter that detailing every dollar spent would add accounting expenses without much benefit — and divert focus from the funding formula’s overriding goal of figuring out how to improve outcomes for underserved students. They argue that it’s premature to change the funding law.

Status: The bill passed the Assembly unanimously. Brown is expected to fight the bill as it moves through the Senate — and may veto it.

Teacher tenure

The probationary period for new teachers in most states is three years or longer. In California, it’s technically two years, though realistically 18 months, since the deadline for notifying teachers in the second year is March 15. AB 1220, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, would give districts the option of extending probation a third year in instances in which they believe teachers could benefit from more supervision.

Why it’s important: Weber and sponsoring groups argue that districts often let go promising teachers go rather than grant them lifetime due-process protections known as tenure. Districts would make wiser hiring decisions with more time, they say. The California Teachers Association responds that a longer probationary period would send a negative message to potential teachers, compounding the state’s teacher shortage. The CTA wants due-process rights for probationary teachers in exchange for another year of probation. See earlier EdSource coverage.

Status: The Assembly Appropriations Committee weakened provisions of the bill; Weber must decide whether to add them back in the Senate. Senate Education Committee will hear the bill July 12.

Teacher shortage

The 2017-18 state budget includes $30 million to alleviate the state’s teacher shortage. Authors of two key proposals that were not funded are moving forward to establish the programs through two bills, in hopes that it will be easier to fund them once they become law. AB 12171, by Raul Bocanegra, D-San Fernando, would create the California Teacher Corps, a teacher residency program in which new teachers would work under a mentor teacher and receive a stipend in exchange for working at least four years in a high-need field, such as special education. AB 169, by Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, would establish Golden State Teacher Grants, which would provide $20,000 stipends to new teachers who also agree to teach four years in a field facing a shortage.

Why it’s important: California is facing a teacher shortage in high-cost regions, like the Bay Area, and in specific fields, including science, math, special education and bilingual programs. The shortage is worse in urban schools serving low-income students.

Status: Both bills received overwhelming support in the Assembly. AB 1217 passed the Senate Education Committee on June 28; AB 169 awaits a hearing.

Suspensions for willful defiance

This fall, California will begin evaluating schools on their progress in lowering student suspension rates. SB 607, by Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, renews a law due to sunset on July 1, 2018 that removed “willful defiance,” a term with no specific definition, as a justification for suspending students in kindergarten through 3rd grade or for expelling students in kindergarten through high school. Skinner’s law extends the ban to kindergarten through 5th grade and proposes a temporary ban, through July 1, 2023, on willful defiance suspensions in 6th through 12th grades.

Why it’s important: Willful defiance suspensions accounted for more than 50 percent of all suspensions before the current law was passed. Advocates of alternative approaches note that suspensions for willful defiance, which rely on a school official’s interpretation, have been issued for minor offenses such as laughing, and are far more likely to involve African American students than students of other racial or ethnic backgrounds. But nearly 9 in 10 teachers surveyed by the California Teachers Association in 2016 said they need training and more access to school mental health providers if they are going to successfully cut back on disciplinary referrals. The California School Boards Association is asking that the bill be amended to allow suspensions for disruptive or defiant behavior in high school.

Status: Passed the Assembly and heading for a floor vote in the Senate.

Meal shaming

Across the nation, and in many California districts, students who don’t have money to pay for subsidized lunches are given a token meal, like a cup of milk and a piece of fruit, or, in some high schools, nothing at all. Sometimes, their hand is stamped in front of their peers in line, as a reminder to get their parents to pay on time. SB 250, by Robert Hertzberg, D-LA, would establish a uniform, statewide policy to ensure that a pupil whose parent or guardian has unpaid meal fees is served a full meal and is not shamed or treated differently than a pupil who is paid up.

Why it’s important: Teachers agree that students who are hungry can’t concentrate on their work; recent research from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that student test scores in California rose with good quality school lunches.

Status: The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the Assembly Education Committee 6-0. It will move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

English learner reclassification

Researchers and advocates for English learners agree that determining when English learners are proficient in English and no longer need language assistance needs to be uniform — but are fighting over how to do this. SB 463, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would standardize the four current reclassification criteria: performance on the state assessment of English language proficiency; evaluation by teachers; consultation with parents; and the mastery of basic skills, comparable to English-only students, on the Smarter Balanced assessment. Researchers and academicians want results on the new English language fluency test, called ELPAC, to be the primary factor; the test will debut in 2018.

Why it’s important: A 2014 study found that most districts adopt more rigorous, often subjective criteria for determining English proficiency, and a delay in reclassification can deny English learners access to advanced high school and college prep courses. Bill proponents worry that premature reclassification will deny English learners needed supports. See earlier EdSource coverage.

Status: The bill passed the Assembly unanimously and will be heard by the Assembly Education Committee.

Reserve cap

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to a deal with the California Teachers Association three years ago that places a cap on the amount that school districts can keep in reserve for emergencies, the California School Boards Association has been trying to get rid of it. Neither of two bills in play would do that, but both would ease the restrictions that districts object to. AB 325 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, would keep the limits, about 6 percent of the size of the budget for an average district, but set new, tighter preconditions on when they would go into effect. SB 751, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, which the school boards association prefers, would exempt most small districts and raise the cap to 17 percent for others.

Why it’s important: That depends on who you ask. The CTA says much is being made over nothing, since the conditions triggering the reserve cap are still years away. Districts say there should be no cap at all under local control, and Brown, the patron of the Local Control Funding Formula, had no business imposing it. See earlier EdSource coverage.

Status: Talks continue on a compromise. If there’s a deal, it will likely come at the end of the summer. Whether Brown will get involved is an open question.

Ban on for-profit charter schools

AB 406, by Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, would prohibit the creation of for-profit charter schools after Jan. 1, 2019.

Why it’s important: There are only six for-profit charters in California. The bill’s author said he was motivated when he learned that a for-profit company obtained millions in taxpayer funds while operating K-12 online academies that graduate less than half of their high school students. The company also allegedly counted students as present for a school day even if they were logged on for as little as a minute. The company last year reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state on those allegations. McCarty said the bill will end the privatization of public education and puts student success ahead of corporate profits. The bill’s critics say the legislation is really designed to curb the charter school movement. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2015. He said the bill could be interpreted to restrict the ability of nonprofit charter schools to continue using for-profit vendors.

Status: The state Assembly approved the bill in May. The state Senate education committee is now reviewing the legislation.

Restrictions on charter school expulsions and suspensions

AB 1360, by Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would create new regulations that charter schools would have to follow when attempting to suspend or expel students. It also prohibits charter schools from requiring parents to volunteer for school activities.

Why it’s important: There has been push for all public schools to lower suspension rates, which are disproportionately high for African-American and Latino students. Charter school critics claim that some schools use suspension policies to push out low-performing students. Charter school supporters say the bill infringes on their state-mandated freedom. The California Charter Schools Association says its members should have the latitude to create their suspension and expulsion policies.

Status: The state Assembly approved the bill in May. The state Senate’s education committee is now reviewing the bill.

Late school start

SB 328, by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, would require middle and high schools to start their regular school days no earlier than 8:30 a.m. by July 1, 2020, except for those in rural school districts that obtain waivers from the state Board of Education to delay implementation for at least two years. The requirement would not apply to so-called “zero period” classes offered at some secondary schools as extra periods before the regular school day begins. It could require the state to reimburse districts for mandated costs.

Why it’s important:  It is based on recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on teenagers. It is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, California Federation of Teachers, California Sleep Society and several hospitals, school districts and student advocacy groups.  If adopted, California would be the first state to mandate a later start. The bill could improve attendance rates and graduation rates and reduce tardiness, according to a Senate analysis. However, the analysis also cited “potential unintended impacts” on working and single parents who may not be able to adjust their schedules, districts’ home-to-school transportation costs, extracurricular activities, and before and after-school programs. The California School Boards Association and California Teachers Association oppose the bill.

Status: Passed in the Senate, with 23 members voting in favor, 13 voting against and two not voting. It is scheduled for a July 12 hearing in the Assembly Committee on Education.

Sanctuary state

Senate Bill 54, by State Senate President pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles), would prohibit local police and other authorities — including those who work at schools — from cooperating with federal immigration agents without a warrant.

Why it’s important: Immigrants make up 30 percent of California’s population, and half of the state’s children have at least one parent who is foreign-born, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. De León said the bill would bolster trust between immigrant communities and state agencies, and lead to improvements in public safety, school attendance and public health. Dozens of cities and school districts around California have already declared themselves safe havens or sanctuaries, offering varying degrees of protections for immigrants. The Trump Administration has threatened to withhold grants for so-called sanctuary cities and states, saying they hinder the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration laws. Some California county sheriffs have also opposed the bill, saying they can’t afford to lose federal grants and should have the flexibility to cooperate with federal immigration agents in certain situations. Other law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, are supporting the bill. In April, a federal judge sided with two California counties that had sued the Trump Administration over its threat to withhold funding.

Status: The bill passed the State Senate on April 3 by a vote of 27-12. It’s currently under review with the Assembly judiciary committee.

This article was originally published by EdSource.org

Independence Day about natural rights, not privileges bestowed by politicians

Photo courtesy Fabi Fliervoet, flickr

Photo courtesy Fabi Fliervoet, flickr

On July Fourth, Americans celebrate the ideals of the Declaration of Independence — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But these three principles aside, we often forget the underlying, truly radical ideas the Declaration is built upon.

The Fourth of July isn’t just about feel-good words and ideas that politicians invoke to gain the “consent of the governed.” Independence Day is about the freedom and duty of citizens to assert our natural rights — rights that are ours because we are human beings, not privileges bestowed upon us by the authorities.

It’s easy to forget that radical notion, that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration also warned that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.”

The Declaration was a call to revolution against a regime that repeatedly violated these core rights. Modern politicians and, perhaps, even most Americans are confused about the concept of rights. They believe that “positive” rights — such as the “right” to health care or education — are of the same kind as those “negative” rights — essentially, the right to be left alone — defended by the American founders.

For instance, the right to free speech is the classic negative right that the founders sought to uphold. We, as Americans, have a right to air our grievances and criticize our government. While we can huff and puff endlessly about unchecked government power, not unless we air our grievances in the public sphere can we expect any satisfactory resolution or redress. We fail as citizens when we passively allow government to abridge our rights, restrict our freedom or inhibit our pursuit of happiness.

In our euphoric celebrations, we may forget that the Fourth isn’t about guaranteeing our happiness. The government’s purpose, rather, is to ensure that we have the opportunity and ability to pursue whatever form of happiness we choose, as long as we do not violate another citizen’s rights.

Nor is the Fourth about assuring equality. To the founders, freedom — not equality — was the crux of independence. The idea of equality was peripheral and only received a six-word blurb in the Declaration: “that all men are created equal.” By equal, the founders meant that we are equal before the law, not equal in our talents and material blessings.

Nineteenth-century French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville posed freedom and equality in opposition to one another, predicting that Americans’ love for equality would ultimately undermine and eclipse their freedom. That, unfortunately, was among Tocqueville’s many prescient observations.

Similarly, the Fourth isn’t about the triumph of democracy. To the founders, democratic government could be just as damaging as monarchies to individual rights. Just because we elect our leaders doesn’t make them less likely to trample on our natural rights. Freedom is best protected through limits on governments, the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Ponder that as the barbecues blaze, and the fireworks fill the air.

This editorial originally appeared in the Orange County Register on July 4, 2008.

How to increase transparency for local bond measures

Voting BoothsPicture yourself on Election Day at your local polling place and looking over a lengthy ballot. Or, try to recall when you were at home reviewing your mail-in ballot. In choosing your elected officials on the ballots, it is pretty straight-forward: You vote for the candidate that best matches your interests and values.

But what about tax levies and bond measures proposed by local governments and school districts? There are so many factors to consider. How will the new funds help your community or school? How long will it take for bonds to be paid off? Most importantly, what will be the actual financial impact on you and your family?

Current law requires that a “tax rate statement” be mailed out to all voters, which includes the best estimate of the highest tax rate for voters, as well as the best estimate of total debt service. While this information can be helpful, it is often insufficient in aiding voters to estimate how much their property taxes might increase.

This is why Assembly Bill 1194 (by this column’s co-author, Matt Dababneh, D-Woodland Hills) is necessary to alleviate this uncertainty and increase transparency for voters regarding the effects that local bond measures may have on property taxes. By providing information upfront, such as the best estimate of the average annual tax rate and the last year when the bond is expected to be paid, voters will have the ability to better understand the bond measures’ impact on their own personal finances.

AB1194 was approved by the state Assembly with strong, bipartisan support. It is supported by taxpayer advocacy organizations and by the very people in local government who are most affected if this bill should pass: the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors.

However, AB1194 faces more hurdles in the state Senate and has attracted some opposition. One organization fears the additional information provided to voters through the legislation “could have a chilling effect on the passage of local bond measures.”

This opposition should concern all taxpayers, as well as transparency advocates. How can providing more information about the average annual tax rates be misleading or even “chilling”? Are opponents afraid that more transparency might give voters pause and cause them to take a closer look at the consequences of the bond measure’s passage rather than blindly voting “yes” down the ballot?

Taxpayers should ask themselves if they could benefit from more clarity on these bond measures. If the answer is yes, then we need your support to ensure AB1194 wins approval in the state Senate and moves to the governor’s desk. You can help by contacting your state senator over the course of this summer to urge their support on AB1194 for better voter transparency.

Jon Coupal is the president of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Matt Dababneh is the California Assemblymember for the 45th Assembly District.

This piece was originally published by the Orange County Register.