Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let’s welcome new education laws in California!

While you’re kissing a complete stranger at midnight on January 1, 2016 there are some new laws that will go into effect for us educational folk here in California.  Shall we take a look?

Mandatory Vaccines (SB 277) Requires full vaccination for most children to enroll in school, beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, in order to attend public or private school regardless of their parents' personal or religious beliefs.

I’ve always thought that parents that don’t vaccinate their children are pretty much on par with bath salt dealers and ISIS.  They not only present a danger for their own children, they present a danger for society as a whole because they won’t remove the tin foil from their head to get the facts about immunization.  I’m a little safer thanks to this law.

High School Exit Exam (SB 172, Liu) Suspends the administration of the high school exit examination and removes the high school exit examination as a condition of receiving a diploma of graduation for each pupil completing grade 12 for specified school years.


Good news for those that didn’t quite earn a diploma but managed to get an education that is somewhere below the level of eighth grade.  If you passed high school with good enough grades, and you graduated between 2004 and 2015, you will be getting a diploma.

Even if you failed the California High School Exit Exam.

There are three positive things that came out of the era of the mess that was No Child Left Behind. 

1)  The term “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”  This was important because it is true.

2)  The use of data showed that we are totally underperforming to our Black and Latino students.

3)  A minimum skills assessment to graduate high school.

The Exit Exam (nicknamed CAHSEE) was the bane of the existence to many teachers mainly because it was ANOTHER test to be given to students on top of the STAR test which measured the No Child Left Behind nonsense, and currently Common Core.  With the test contract expired, California decided to stop offering the Exit Exam (wanting to mix it with Common Core later) but was left in limbo because a lot of students that had graduated yet were still allowed to take it…now couldn’t.  So they suspended it……back to 2004.  This means that every student that didn’t pass a basic skills exam that any eighth grader should pass will now be given a diploma.  Why?  Probably because the test was racist, sexist, and discriminated against those in poverty because that’s a great way to bail out an education system that allowed students to take the Exit Exam once in 10th grade, twice in 11th grade, and up to five times as a Senior in high school.  Oh, and the English section requires a 60% to pass.  The Math?  A 55%.

Trying to meld it into Common Core is a great idea.  Simply granting a waiver to a decades worth of students shows that the government doesn’t really have confidence in its teachers at all.  With a small margin of error, about 10% of high school students could not pass the CAHSEE.  10%.  And those were disproportionately Latino and Black students.  But while the data shows that schools, parents, and communities have have along way to go in meeting the needs of these populations, Senate Bill 172 gives the whole thing a “meh, it’s good enough” approach.  The same approach that has plagued the system for a long, long time. 

Sex Ed Instruction (AB 329, Weber) Changes sexual education courses from voluntary to mandatory. Updates curricula to include, for example, more information about HIV and the spectrum of gender identity. Parents will need to specifically opt-out​ their children if they do not want them to receive the instruction. 

Mandatory sexual education courses are a good thing.  I remember when it was controversial to talk about HIV in 1991 in high school and I’m embarressed that it was even a thing.  Gender identity?  I have many feelings on the issue of gender identity, most of it revolving around the mantra of “I could give a shit.”  I always find it interesting and hypocritical about how most of society in all spectrums treats the issue of gender.  But gender identity taught in schools will probably cause enough controversey to remain entertaining, so be it.

Gun-Free School Zone (SB 707, Wolk) Persons with concealed weapons permits will no longer be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on public or private K-12 schools, universities or colleges. There are exemptions for certain appointed peace officers who are authorized to carry a firearm by their appointing agency and certain retired reserve peace officers who are authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm.

Police officers should carry guns on campus.  No one else should.  Those morons that believe that more guns create a safer environment that deters crime have no evidence that backs that up and are fools.

“Yes means yes” (SB 695): Teaching students about consent will now be included in high school health education classes. This law requires schools districts to include in their health classes, which are mandatory for graduation, lessons on the importance of consent for sexual acts, or that “yes means yes.”

This is disaster written all over it.  Just so I’m absolutely clear, we are going to tell high school teachers that teach health education, from dedicated health specialists to the 30 year veteren PE teacher that has to teach it and resents the hell out of it (and every spectrum in-between) that THEY are going to explain what consent is?  Oh this is gold.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the issue of consent should be discussed.  But this just has the potential of being a total and complete mess.

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