Steinberg unveils bills linking CTE with student measurements, teacher training

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg unveiled a far-reaching education package Wednesday that would make career technical education a critical component of standardized test scores, college entrance requirements, and teacher training.

Acknowledging his legislation may cost the state millions, the Senate leader also argued that schools were the central reason that the state needs to raise revenue in 2011-12 - regardless of whether Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed taxes are placed on the ballot.

Either way, the onus on Democrats now is on negotiating with the GOP, said Steinberg,

The main question is, how do we engage Republicans to come and save this state and not cut schools by $5 billion?" said Steinberg, D-Sacramento, at a press event.

Steinberg added an all-cuts approach to the budget was unacceptable.

"Defeat is not an option here," he said.

Steinberg did not outline a new budget strategy or say which Republican demands he was willing to support.

But he did announce that regardless of Republican support, the Senate would vote on a budget package before June 15 that included both a "solid reform package" and the governor's tax proposal. Republicans have hinged their tax support on numerous demands including pension reform.

The legislation unveiled Wednesday would make standardized test scores a fraction of the total Academic Performance Index and add measures that could include rates of students who fulfill college admission requirements or courses in career tech.

Under SB 547, the California State Board of Education would reconfigure the Academic Performance Index by 2014 to include a host of measures all intended to demonstrate preparedness for college or careers - the bill lists suggested metrics but those decisions would belong to the state board.

Under the bill, the API would count for a minimum of 40 percent for grades K-8 and a maximum of 40 percent for high school.

Districts would be required to report additional college and career data to the California Department of Education, which would likely impose a state reimbursable mandate.

Another bill, SB 611, would expand an existing program through the University of California that assembles high school teachers, university faculty, and private sector interests in part by requiring them to design at least 250 new career tech courses that would be included in the A-G requirements.

The program, the UC Integration Institute, is currently funded through Proposition 98, but Steinberg's office said they were seeking a mix of private and federal funding to expand the program without hurting the minimum school funding guarantee.

The final bill in the package, SB 612, would align teacher training through the California Subject Matter Projects with career tech courses

The CSMP was established under legislation in 1998 and is run by the UC system as a statewide network of subject-specific professional development programs.

SB 612 would also remove the CSMP expiration date and add three new subjects: Physical Education-Health, Arts, and Foreign Language.

"We are going to focus curriculum - what we measure, what we teach, and how we teach it - in a different and more relevant way to our challenges in this state," said Steinberg before a panel of legislators Tuesday.

The three bills passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday with Democrats resoundingly supportive and Republicans largely opposed. The legislation moves on to Senate Appropriations Committee, where the bills' costs to the state will be determined. more