December 29, 2011 (Sacramento)—As Californians close out 2011 and welcome in the New Year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson highlights some of the new education and child safety laws that go into effect in 2012.
“Our goal for the new year and every year is to make education accessible and effective for all children,” said Torlakson. “These new laws will help ensure children are safer, enter kindergarten at the appropriate age, learn what they need to know to succeed in life and careers, and fulfill the dream of a college education.”
Assembly Bill AB 130 (Cedillo) is the California Dream Act of 2011. This measure exempts California nonresidents who qualify for the AB 540(Firebaugh, 2001)tuition waiver from paying nonresidential tuition at the University of California, California State University, and California Community College institutions of higher education.
AB 131 (Cedillo) expands the state-administered student financial aid that is available for AB 540 waiver eligible students. For AB 540 waiver students, acquiring federally issued financial aid is prohibited, and opportunities for state-issued financial aid are limited.
“Traditionally, nonresidents who qualify for AB 540 waivers are persons without lawful immigration status or U.S. citizenship, or are permanent residents of another state,” said Torlakson. “However, these persons also have demonstrated a strong commitment to and investment in California personally, economically, and intellectually. Because these students will undoubtedly reinvest their education into California, it is important that our institutions of higher education support their endeavors.”
As part of Torlakson’s Blueprint for Great Schools Initiative to better prepare young students for kindergarten and beyond, he supported Senate Bill SB 1381 (Simitian, 2010), also known as the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, which begins in the 2012-13 school year. This measure changes the required birthday for admission to kindergarten and first grade and establishes a transitional kindergarten program.
Torlakson sponsored the following three measures to help implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS is a voluntary, state-led effort to develop a national set of standards for mathematics, English-language arts, and literacy in various content areas for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The effort started in 2009 and is being coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. Participants include 45 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia.
AB 124 (Fuentes) establishes a process to update, revise, and align the English-Language Development Standards to the CCSS in English-language arts, and would require the State Superintendent and the State Board of Education to present lawmakers with a schedule and implementation plan for integrating the revised English-Language Development Standards into the education system.
AB 250 (Brownley) establishes a structure for the implementation of the CCSS by developing and adopting curriculum frameworks and professional development opportunities that are aligned to the CCSS and are appropriate for all pupils. The bill also requires the State Superintendent, the State Board of Education, and others to develop criteria to guide the development of model professional development programs for teachers and administrators that deepen their understanding of the CCSS.
SB 140 (Lowenthal) requires the California Department of Education to develop a list of supplemental instructional materials for use in kindergarten through seventh grade that are aligned with the CCSS in mathematics, and language arts for kindergarten through eighth grade. This bill also allows governing boards of school districts to approve supplemental instructional materials, other than those approved by the State Board of Education, if the materials are aligned with the CCSS.
Under SB 929 (Evans), children under the age of eight must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. In addition, children aged eight or older who are not tall enough for the seat belt to fit properly must ride in a booster or car seat.
The previous law required that children remain in a booster seat until the age of six or until they weighed 60 pounds. The fine for violating this law is significant. For each child under the age of 16 who is not properly secured, parents (if in the car) or the driver can be fined a minimum of $475 and get a point on their driving record.
For more information about car seats, the new law, or help in determining if your child still needs a booster seat, call your local health department or go to the California Department of Public Health’s Web site at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/vosp.