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Education Reporter

California Legislature Moves Left

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Since California is a trendsetter in public policy and legislation, here is a recap of the bills pertaining to public schools that passed in the State Legislature in 2006. The new laws signed by Governor Schwarzenegger are followed by the bills passed by the state legislature but vetoed by the Governor (due to energetic lobbying by the grassroots).

AB 2560 — Public School Health Center Expansion. Signed into law.
This law will establish, retain and expand "health centers" in public schools. These health centers will collect data on children and then compile a biennial report on the collected data. AB 2560 allows school-based health centers to provide diagnostic and treatment services. This means that teachers and school staff may take students to the health clinic and "treat" them for maladies including "mental health disorders." School officials may also immunize students and provide counseling for "newer morbidities" such as teen sex, substance abuse, smoking, violence and behavioral problems. Under this legislation, the rights of parents to direct their children's healthcare will be denied. School officials will possess the power to prescribe medication to students they believe have "behavioral problems."

AB 172 — Universal Preschool. Signed into law.
This legislation requires the state to offer "voluntary" universal preschool for 3-5 year olds. Although this legislation requires "voluntary" preschool, it is certainly a step towards requiring attendance and adds yet another layer to the education bureaucracy. (California voters defeated universal pre-school on a statewide referendum in June.)

SB 1441 — State Funding vs. Religious Beliefs. Signed into law.
SB 1441 requires all businesses and organizations receiving funding from the state to condone homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality or lose state funding. There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions.

SB 1437-Homosexual Indoctrination in Schools. Vetoed.
This bill, which passed the Assembly 46-31 on a partisan vote, would have banned teachers, textbooks, instructional materials or school activities that "reflect adversely" on people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (but adversely was not defined). A violation could be reported to the state Department of Education for possible reprisals. The bill would have added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes: race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin or ancestry. Public school teachers would have been forbidden to say homosexuality is wrong. The terms "mother and father" or "husband and wife" could have been removed from textbooks because they reflect adversely upon homosexuals. This bill was a flagrant attack on California families.

AB 1056 — Thought Police Redefine Tolerance. Vetoed.
This bill was the most blatant attack on freedom of speech and religion to date. It would have integrated tolerance training into history and social science curricula and started a pilot program that forced students to learn a "new definition" of tolerance. According to this new definition, students would have been forced to not only accept, but advocate homosexuality by "conveying respect" for a lifestyle that violates their religious beliefs.

AB 606 — Superintendent of Public Indoctrination. Vetoed.
AB 606 would have required the State Board of Education (instead of individual school districts) to increase sensitivity to so-called "discrimination." Under this proposed law the State Superintendent of Public Instruction would have had unlimited discretion to withhold state funds from schools that did not comply with his interpretation of AB 606.

AB 2510 — Bias Survey Promotes Homosexual Agenda. Vetoed.
AB 2510 would have required the Attorney General's office, working with the State Department of Education, to survey students on bias-related discrimination and harassment incidents in public schools. 7th, 9th and 11th graders in public schools would have been forced to fill out questionnaires asking whether they have experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender (actual or perceived). In his veto message the governor stated that, "This bill adds little to the prevention of bad behavior, but merely focuses on collecting information that is generally already known by principals, teachers, parents, and law enforcement."

SB 1471 —Sex Education in Schools (Kuehl-D) Vetoed.
This legislation would have prohibited teaching or promoting "religious doctrine" in sex education classes. It also would have prohibited any teaching that "reflects or promotes bias" against people based on their sexual orientation. This legislation would have applied to any school or program that receives state funding -it would not have been limited to public schools.

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