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California Takes Important Steps to Prioritize Kids

Topics: California

Once again, California affirmed its reputation as a national leader when it comes to a political agenda that prioritizes kids.

Last week, a number of important measures backed by Common Sense Kids Action worked their way through the Legislature. Together, these bills comprise a comprehensive, pro-kids agenda that will help better prepare our kids, and our state, for the future.

Ranging in scope from preschool to college financial aid, from mental health policy to much-needed regulations on electronic cigarettes, the bills we have worked to support would improve the health, safety, education, and opportunities for kids across the state.

Common Sense Kids Action has committed to advancing a 21st-century kids and education agenda that includes ensuring that all children age 0–5 have access to vital health and education resources, advancing 21st-century learning, alleviating the damaging effects of poverty, and protecting children's online privacy.

The 12 bills on this list would bring us closer to reaching those goals in California. All have been passed by the legislative house where they were introduced and will continue to move through the legislative process in the coming weeks. Our goal is to ensure all these proposals are eventually signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 62 (Pavley): Would help address the impending teacher shortage by reinstating and improving two of California's most successful teacher-recruitment and financial aid programs.

SB 118 (Liu): Would provide funding for the expansion and renovation of school health centers.

SB 140 (Leno): Would help prevent underage use of electronic cigarettes.

SB 252 (Leno): Would ensure homeless youth have access to the California high school equivalency and proficiency exams by waiving the fees required to take them.

SB 614 (Leno): Would allow California to join 30 other states in establishing a Peer and Family Support Specialist Certification Program.

SB 725 (Hancock): Would require the state superintendent and state board of education to convene a panel of experts to recommend updated visual and performing arts standards.

AB 47 (McCarty): Would state the intent of the legislature that all eligible children will have access to the state preschool program.

AB 141 (Bonilla): Would ensure school districts or county offices of education provide new teachers with an induction (teacher training and mentoring) program at no cost.

AB 741 (Williams): Would allow for the development of residential crisis programs to provide youth mental health services.

AB 1025 (Thurmond): Would create a pilot program to encourage schools to use inclusive practices that integrate mental health, special education, and school climate interventions.

AB 1101 (Bonilla): Would protect student safety and privacy by requiring school boards to adopt a policy regarding private investigators who are hired to conduct student residency investigations.

AB 1299 (Ridley-Thomas): Would ensure foster children receive the support they need even after they move from one county to another.

The state budget is another opportunity for state lawmakers to affirm their commitment to improving the lives of California's children. We are particularly encouraged by the Senate and Assembly Budget Committee's decision to add additional funding for early childhood programs in their version of the budget -- a move that would help give more children of all socioeconomic backgrounds a fair start in California.

Now that our state's finances have recovered from the effects of the Great Recession, it is time to make targeted investments in our state and in our future. All these bills offer state lawmakers and Gov. Brown a chance to do just that and to send a message that policy makers in California will put the interests of kids first.

Kids Action