Panel greenlights non-credentialed teacher hiring

Panel greenlights non-credentialed teacher hiring

(Calif.) Members of an important legislative policy committee gave conditional support to bills that would temporarily reduce teacher training requirements and provide charter schools better access to surplus property, but they rejected a measure that would have repealed district funding reserve caps.

Meanwhile the state Senate’s Education Committee moved with strong support a mandate that California-grown food should be used frequently in school lunches, as well as a bill that would add financial literacy to the list of courses high school students would need to obtain a diploma.

And the committee delayed voting on one of this session’s most controversial education bills; legislation that would allow districts to deny authorization of a charter school based only on the potential financial impact the new entity would have on the district.

With a deadline pending next week, lawmakers are scrambling between their committee assignments to hear and vote on pending bills and making presentations themselves in hopes of moving their proposals along.

April 28 is the last day for policy committees to move bills ahead that will have a fiscal impact. By June 2, all active bills need to have been approved in their house of origin.

Perhaps of greatest interest is SB 808 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, which would give districts far more power to curb charter growth. The bill is one of three being sponsored by the California Teachers Association aimed at restricting charter schools and already generating significant political drama.

At the request of the author, the education committee took public testimony on SB 808 but put off taking a vote. Committee chair Sen. Paul Allen, D-Santa Monica, said he intends to hold another hearing on the issue of charter authorization later in the summer.

Also controversial and also generating a split vote was SB 533 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, which would allow the governor to declare a “state of need” because of the teacher shortage. With that declaration, school districts would be allowed to employ teachers that do not have valid credentials, but who would get support and training from the hiring district.

Portantino’s bill has the support of EdVoice, a nonprofit advocacy group most closely associated with the charter movement, but is opposed by the California Teachers Association.

The CTA and the California Charter Schools Association are on either side of SB 765 from Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco. Weiner’s bill requires charter schools be given first right of refusal over property that a district intends on selling or leasing, with some exceptions.

The committee moved the bill to the Appropriations Committee on a vote of 5-1 with one abstention.

Of the major bills before the committee, only SB 590 by Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, was outright rejected. That bill would have repealed a highly-contentious cap on how much money districts can keep in reserve—a mandate worked out behind closed doors two years ago between Gov. Jerry Brown and the CTA.

Although the CTA was strongly opposed to the bill and Moorlach is a Republican—SB 590 is one of three bills pending before the Legislature on the reserve cap issue and two of them sponsored by Democrats.

SB 751 by Democratic Senators Jerry Hill of San Mateo and Steve Glazer from Orinda, would make adjustments to when the cap would be triggered while exempting some spending. AB 235 by Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, would make similar changes.