Teach Plus Praises California Legislature on Prioritizing the Humanity and Needs of Marginalized Students

Teach Plus Praises California Legislature on Prioritizing the Humanity and Needs of Marginalized Students

Sacramento, CA, September 14, 2023 — Teach Plus California today issued the following statement about the California Legislature’s passage of AB 1078 (Jackson), SB 274 (Skinner), and AB 714 (McCarty) that advance laws providing additional support and removing barriers that perpetuate systemic inequities, exacerbate the achievement gap, and hinder the academic progress of already marginalized groups of students:

With Teach Plus-supported bills passing out of the Legislature this week, Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders are thrilled to see California state leaders standing up for our students who have been marginalized by our systems for far too long. They are sending a strong message that California schools must ensure that LGBTQIA+ students, students of color, and newcomer students must be safe, represented, and taught with resources that best meet their needs. 

The passage of Assembly Bill 1078 by Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) provides critical clarity for local leaders, educators, students, and families to ensure that all students in California are taught using high-quality, comprehensive, accurate, and culturally relevant instructional materials. As educators, we know how important it is for our state to provide such leadership. It is especially important at this time to support educational materials that are inclusive of each and every learner in our public schools. LGBTQIA+ students and staff are fighting for a right to exist and be represented in education, as seen in many school districts in the Inland Empire during the 2022-2023 school year.

Senate Bill 274 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) is another important step to protect students from being excluded from school by prohibiting the use of suspensions and expulsions based on the subjective and overly broad act of “willful defiance.” This has been a policy that has disproportionately harmed students of color and students with disabilities, with Black male students being three times more likely to be suspended for “defiance” than the statewide average. As Teach Plus Policy Fellow and San Rafael High School teacher  Alex Robins shared in EdSource: “This alarming disparity perpetuates systemic inequities, exacerbating the achievement gap and hindering the academic progress of these already marginalized groups.” By passing this bill, California has taken a significant step to protect students from being discriminatorily excluded from school and encourage schools to find alternative solutions that will keep students in the classroom – where they belong.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 714 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), California leaders are for the first time calling out the need for support for the hundreds of thousands of newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students who have been historically underserved in California’s K-12 system. As Teach Plus California Senior Policy Fellow and San Leandro educator Jenna Hewitt King shared in EdSource: “Without more explicit guidance, expectations and support from the state, how can we expect schools and districts to build programs up to the capacity that will best serve some of our most vulnerable students in California?” By publishing accurate data on the status and performance of newcomer students and providing meaningful guidance for educators serving these students, the state and local agencies will have a better idea of how to meet the needs of newcomers and the resources necessary to ensure their success. AB 714 will better provide school districts and newcomer students with the support and resources they need.

The State Legislature has sent clear messages with the passage of these three bills that the State has a responsibility to not only protect students who have been historically marginalized by our education system—namely LGBTQIA+ students, newcomer students, and students of color—but also to ensure that they have access to the resources and supports they need to thrive in our schools and communities. Teach Plus teacher leaders urge Governor Newsom to reinforce these critical messages and sign AB 1078, SB 274, and AB 714 into law.

About Teach Plus
Teach Plus is dedicated to the mission of empowering excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity, and student success. In pursuing our mission, Teach Plus is guided by our Student Opportunity Mandate: All students should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for postsecondary success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning for students. teachplus.org/ca

Contact: Sarah Lillis, (916)761-1385, slillis@teachplus.org