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New bill enters special education arena: Is it timely?

Immediately following is a bit of backdrop -- historical perspective, if you will -- underlying some current mumbling and expressed concerns regarding would-be California legislation pertinent to the realm of special education.

In 2013, state lawmakers "roughed out" (the terms used in a recent article discussing the accountability standards of California schools concerning special education programs) a system for academic institutions to follow for improving their special ed efforts. Focus factors included academic achievement, parental involvement, so-called "school climate" and additional matters.

While the State Board of Education was working on fine tuning the initiative, federal authorities supplanted the national No Child Left Behind Act with new legislation entitled the Every Student Succeeds Act. That law also sets forth special education standards that states must follow to make improvements in their programs.

Reportedly, state educators favor the federal switch, and the state board has been busily engaged in weaving together elements of the recently proposed California improvement standards with federal dictates.

Because that will take time, they say, they are chagrined by new would-be state law encompassed in California Assembly Bill 2548, which they say is jumping the gun and threatens to undermine accounting standards that are being fully fleshed out presently.

That legislation recently sailed through the Assembly Education Committee, with its author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), saying that the more stringent improvement standards it spells out and wants enacted into law are in no way untimely. Weber states that, if legislators wait, "we will be told it is too late."

As the state board continues its state/federal blending work, the bill seeks to work its way forward through the California Legislature.

It could stall out. Alternatively, it could pass and, as the California Teachers Association contends, "impede the current process prior to [its] being completed."

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