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Faulconer heads to Sacramento + CTA on standardized tests + Mental health for students

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 2/25/2021 Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee

Feb. 25—Good morning! Our apologies for the incorrect AM Alert story we sent this morning. Here's your AM Alert. Thank you for reading.

FAULCONER HEADS TO SACRAMENTO

Via Lara Korte...

The campaign has 21 days left to turn in recall petition signatures.

Former San Diego mayor turned gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer made a campaign stop in Sacramento on Wednesday to once again knock Gavin Newsom as schools remain closed. As the recall approaches the deadline, the issue is top of mind for Newsom and his detractors.

But what exactly the former mayor would do differently is unclear.

Faulconer repeatedly said that schools should be open, and public dollars should be tied to reopening, but didn't offer specifics on how he would act differently from Newsom or the Legislature, both which have introduced plans that would funnel billions to schools to reopen.

What Faulconer did make clear was that Newsom should be held responsible for the negative effects on students and parents

"Our state, unfortunately, has become the land of broken promises. And our promise breaker in chief is Gavin Newsom," Faulconer said, standing in downtown Sacramento outside the state Department of Education.

"Gavin Newsom promised prosperity, but let California's next generation fall behind. Gavin Newsom promised compassion, but turned his back on children that are isolated at home. Gavin Newsom promised equality, but with private schools open and many public schools closed, he has given us some of the worst inequality in the nation. Gavin Newsom promised that this month, his plan to safely reopen schools would swing into action. But it fizzled almost immediately, leaving children, parents and teachers without hope."

Faulconer expressed that he was still supportive of working with labor groups, who have been very vocal about their preference to keep schools closed until vaccines for teachers and stringent safety measures are in place.

"It's about sitting down at the table and saying 'we're going to demand results. Here's what I will accept and here's what I won't accept as governor.' And keeping our schools closed is not what I would accept," he said.

One new policy Faulconer suggested Wednesday was stimulus checks for parents whose children were forced to continue schooling online.

"Parents have had to pay for tutors. Moms and dads have had to give up shifts of work and even jobs so they can be with their kids at home. And many families have had to purchase laptops, tablets and faster internet," he said.

Faulconer did not specify how much parents should be compensated.

CTA CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF STANDARDIZED TESTING

The California Teachers Association is calling on the State Board of Education to submit a waiver to the federal government requesting a suspension of standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year.

The CTA also has submitted a letter to acting U.S. Secretary of Education Phil Rosenfelt, urging the U.S. Department fo Education to issue assessment waivers to state as soon as possible.

"Given widespread inequities in student access to technology and the internet, as well as the concerns both educators and parents have about the value of any data gathered from traditional annual testing in the midst of a global pandemic, we firmly believe testing would be detrimental to students, and of little use to teachers and school districts," CTA President E. Toby Boyd said in a statement.

The CTA has gathered 40,000 petition signatures from parents and educators opposed to continuing standardized testing during the COVID-19 pandemic-impacted school year.

You can read the letter for yourself by visiting here.

MENTAL HEALTH BILL PACKAGE FOR K-12 STUDENTS

San Luis Obispo Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham has introduced a set of bills that would provide K-12 public school students with greater access to mental health services — something he argues is needed in a school year in which the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc.

"By increasing both the funding and the pool of accessible mental health professionals available for our kids, we can make sure children have the mental health resources they need. This has been a difficult year, and our kids deserve all the help they can get as we transition back to in-person learning," Cunningham said in a statement.

AB 1080 would empower schools to set up partnerships with outside mental health providers to provide students with treatment services, while AB 1081 allocates $500 million through the Local Control Funding Formula to school districts "that commit to providing adequate mental health resources to students," according to Cunningham's office.

Cunningham's office cited a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study which found that mental health-related emergency room visits increased during the first six months of the pandemic, by 24% for children 5 to 11 and by 31% for children 12 to 17, year over year.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's been a couple of years since I've talked about it... but, it is still time to get rid of 14(c) and treat disabled workers like the full human beings they are. Just seeing it come up in my feed made my day. No excuse for a sub minimum wage." — Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, via Twitter.

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The California board that oversees local jails does not have clear goals, lacks authority and needs to diversify its leadership or else it risks continuing the allow inhumane conditions in county lockups statewide, a nonpartisan review has found, via Jason Pohl.

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California legislators introduced a bill Monday that would create a toll-free hotline and online reporting system for reporting hate crimes and hate incidents, via Ashley Wong.

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