Broadband and labor bills move through Legislature
With early action budget deals in the rearview mirror, the 2021–22 legislative session is now in full swing
More than 2,600 bills have been introduced, and as of this writing, CSBA is monitoring 550 measures that would impact K-12 education in California. Broadband access, early education, ethnic studies and labor relations have emerged as important themes as the Legislature works through legislation in ongoing policy committee hearings.
Broadband access
Legislators have introduced a number of bills seeking to ensure that every Californian has access to the high-quality broadband necessary for learning and life in the 21st century. In March, CSBA President-elect Dr. Susan Heredia joined Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and others to announce Assembly Bill 34, known as the Broadband for All Bond Act of 2022, which would place a $10 billion general obligation bond on the November 2022 ballot to expand public broadband infrastructure to address the digital divide and provide access to high-speed, affordable and reliable internet — targeting school districts and other institutions in unserved and underserved rural, urban, suburban and tribal communities.

Other bills focusing on broadband access include AB 14 (Aguiar Curry, D-Winters) and Senate Bill 4 (Gonzalez, D-Long Beach), which would extend the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund to provide communities with grants to bridge the digital divide; and AB 41 (Wood, D- Santa Rosa), would which would require the public be notified when broadband infrastructure is being deployed in neighborhoods and expedite its deployment in unserved and underserved communities by allowing for microtrenching to install underground telecommunications cables when building and repairing roadways throughout the state. CSBA supports all four broadband-related bills.

Early education and ethnic studies
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) has introduced AB 22, a bill which would establish universal preschool for all 3-year-old children and phase in universal transitional kindergarten beginning in the 2024–25 school year through the 2032–33 school year. CSBA has taken a support if amended position on this measure. Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) has introduced Senate Bill 70, which would require a child to have completed one year of kindergarten before that child may be admitted to the first grade, beginning in the 2022–23 school year. CSBA generally agrees with the goal of establishing kindergarten as part of compulsory education law but has taken a disapprove position due to issues with how this goal would be achieved. As written, the bill lacks clarity regarding what kindergarten programs would qualify under the requirement and raises key fiscal concerns relating to Proposition 98, facility capacity, and school transportation funding impacts, as it does not provide any assurance of additional funding for increased enrollment of children.

Despite the setback of a veto from Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, ethnic studies remains a priority issue as well. Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) has re-introduced his measure to add the completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies to the high school graduation requirements as AB 101 and CSBA has taken a support if amended position on this measure. A number of bills have also been introduced that address the Vietnamese American refugee experience, the Cambodian genocide and Hmong history and cultural studies; California and Native American education; and genocide and Holocaust education.

Labor bills cause concerns
The Legislature is also considering several education-related labor bills. CSBA members spoke with legislators at Legislative Action Week in March to express their concerns regarding two measures that CSBA has taken an oppose position on:

  • AB 388 (Medina, D-Riverside) would expand permanent status for certificated employees after a 2-year probationary period for any size LEA, including small school districts with 250 students or less, adult schools, and regional occupational programs.
  • AB 438 (Reyes, D-San Bernardino) would provide to classified staff the same March 15 layoff notices and rights as those afforded to certificated employees.
What’s next?
Policy committee hearings are ongoing as these measures and others make their way through the legislative process. The budget cycle will soon heat up as the Assembly and Senate release their budget priorities for the year and begin negotiations with the Governor, who will release his revised budget plans in mid-May. See all CSBA positions at www.csba.org/advocacy.