San Francisco, CA – Common Sense Kids Action announced today that it has launched a new initiative that will rate legislation based on how the potential law would help or harm kids. Common Sense Legislative Ratings will highlight, publicize, and advocate for bills that would significantly help kids -- and expose bills that would appreciably harm kids, including naming the special interests behind them.
"America's kids are our future, and they should unequivocally be the top priority for policymakers from California to Washington, D.C.," said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense. "Common Sense Legislative Ratings puts policymakers on notice that the public is watching to see if their actions are for kids or against kids -- and that they will be held accountable."
The initial release today includes "For Kids" ratings for seven bills that were introduced in California prior to the February 19 legislative deadline in Sacramento. The bills are:
- AB 908, authored by assembly members Jimmy Gomez and Autumn Burke, which would improve the state's Paid Family Leave program by raising the current wage-replacement rate and expanding coverage from six to eight weeks, thereby helping California employees meet their obligations to their children and other family members and maintain stable employment;
- AB 2799, authored by Assembly Member Ed Chau, which is a children's privacy bill that would help California's children by extending online privacy protections currently in place in California's schools to the state's preschools and pre-kindergartens;
- SB 62, authored by senators Fran Pavley, Marty Block, and Bob Huff, which is an education bill that would help address California's teacher shortage that is leaving too many students, particularly students in low-income communities, without qualified teachers by reducing the financial cost of becoming a teacher;
- SB 915, authored by Senator Carol Liu, which is an education bill that would help students affected by the teacher shortage by allowing school districts to recruit teachers to California from colleges, other careers, and other states and provide them with valuable information about how to become credentialed and enter the profession;
- SB 933, authored by Senator Ben Allen, which is an education bill that would create a California Teacher Corps and help students being taught by under-qualified teachers as a result of the teacher shortage by giving matching grants to school districts to recruit, train, mentor, and retain teachers by creating or expanding teacher-training programs known as "residencies" in high-need districts;
- SB 1166 (the New Parent Leave Act), authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, which would help families by providing three months of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for almost all California employees;
- and SB 1383, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, which is a bill that would help children by addressing pollutants that contribute to asthma, one of the leading causes of school absenteeism, by requiring the California Air Resources Board to approve and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.
In addition to these seven bills, Common Sense Kids Action awarded a "For Kids" rating to the bipartisan No Place Like Home legislative budget proposal that would address homelessness and help kids and families by repurposing Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) funds for a revenue bond to build permanent housing for chronically homeless persons with mental illness; provide funding for supportive housing in the shorter term; and reduce homelessness among families in the child welfare system.
Common Sense Kids Action will regularly highlight and update the ratings, including a paid and earned media campaign, and will utilize multiple advocacy tools to activate its parent and educator members. New bills may be added to -- or removed from -- the list as bills are amended through the legislative process. The ratings initiative will identify and track legislation in states all over the country as well as in Congress. At the end of the year, Common Sense Kids Action will highlight Kids’ Heroes, legislators who have demonstrated they are "For Kids."
The Common Sense Kids Action staff and a team of policy advisors assign the ratings based on the organization's legislative agenda, which focuses on four key areas that provide the building blocks of opportunity for all kids and families:
- High-quality early childhood, including child care, pre-K, nutrition and preventive health care
- 21st-century schools, designed and funded to ensure every student graduates ready to succeed in college or career, with high-quality and well-trained teachers, broadband in every classroom and at home, privacy rules to protect kids' personal data, and innovative career pathways to prepare all students for the academic and employment challenges ahead
- A positive media and technology world, including the privacy that people of all ages deserve in school, at home, and throughout their lives and guidance on how to be responsible digital citizens who make good choices online
- Common Sense support for families, including policies that address poverty and other barriers to providing children with the right start and policies that support working families, such as paid sick and family and medical leave, fair pay, Earned Income and Child Tax credits, and child care benefits
Common Sense is an organization dedicated to helping kids thrive by empowering parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids' lives. With over 65 million users and more than 300,000 registered educators, Common Sense has potential advocates in every home and school across the nation.
Common Sense Media, the organization's consumer platform, has published independent ratings and reviews of thousands of movies, TV shows, books, apps, websites, and video games; Common Sense Education helps teachers discover the best education technology tools; and Common Sense Kids Action, the advocacy arm, works with policymakers, business leaders, and other advocates across the nation to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed. For more information, visit www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action.
Contact: Lisa Cohen, 310-395-2544