Growing stack of education bills before governor

Today is the deadline for lawmakers to pass legislation on to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and stacks of education bills continue to be carted in for the governor's approval.

Due to the growing state deficit, the only education bills that have successfully squeaked through the Legislature cost the state little or nothing at all- but that's not to say the potential changes won't be substantial.

Case in point: a lawmaker with hopes of becoming the next state schools chief is pushing legislation that would give a diagnostic to the state's standardized exam. AB 391 from Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Martinez, would require the State Superintendent to contract for an independent evaluation of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program.

"It's time to examine the usefulness and effectiveness of these tests which were created more than 12 years ago," said Torlakson in a statement. "STAR testing is in the driver's seat of California's education system. We are overdue to pop the hood."

Another Torlakson bill before Schwarzenegger would develop new rules for college athletic recruiters. Under AB 2079, California colleges and universities would have to disclose athletic scholarship information on their website that includes attendance expenses, the average monthly scholarship payment, medical coverage, and other pertinent information.

If the governor signs AB 184 by Assemblyman Marty Block, districts would not be forced to return their 2009-10 Special Disability Adjustment apportionment. The California Department of Education already released the funds, but never had the statutory authority to do so. The San Diego Democrat's legislation would provide that authority and extend the program until July 1, 2011.

Here is more legislation awaiting the governor's approval:

AB 1854 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would require the following documents to be accepted by schools as a student's proof of district residence: a property tax payment receipt; a rental property contract, lease, or payment receipt; a utility service contract, lease, or payment receipt; pay stubs; voter registration; correspondence from a government agency; or a declaration of residency for a homeless child as executed by the parents or guardian.

SB 1354, by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, would modify criteria for students considered "at risk" for the purpose of enrolling in a California Partnership Academy. The bill also requires school districts to give students in those academies access to career technical education as part of an occupational course sequence.

SB 930, by Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, would expand the number of English learners who are tested in their primary language on the state's content standards.

AB 434 by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, would allow for the After School Education and Safety Program, the cost of a program site supervisor to be included as direct services, provided that at least 85% of the site supervisor's time is spent at the program site.