Gov. Brown Puts Interests of Bureaucrats Ahead of CA's 6 Million Children
Sacramento, CA (September 29, 2014) -- California Governor Jerry Brown announced his veto of Senate Bill (SB) 1057 on September 18 despite support for the bill from a broad based coalition of more than 100 organizations, professors, educators, and government leaders and near unanimous bipartisan support in both chambers of the State Legislature. SB 1057, which sought to update the state's nearly two decades old History-Social Science Content Standards, received no public opposition but was quietly opposed by the State Board of Education (SBE) behind the scenes, according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
Foundation leaders asserted that Governor Brown's decision will have long-lasting implications on the state's more than six million children.
"It's unfortunate that Governor Brown succumbed to back door lobbying by the State Board of Education instead of putting the interests of California's children first," said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF's Director/Senior Human Rights Fellow. "As a result of his veto of this crucial bill, our state's children will be denied access to the most up to date and modern education, and will continue to be exposed to rampant inaccuracies and stereotypes in their History-Social Science textbooks. This will lead many students to feel ashamed of their heritage or worse yet, bullied because of it."
Content Standards form the foundation of textbooks and define what must be taught in classrooms. If SB 1057 had been signed into law it would have tasked the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), in consultation with the SBE, to convene a group of History-Social Science experts to create new Content Standards that are accurate and portray all groups in a fair and equitable manner. The current History-Social Science Content Standards were last created in 1998, but based on inaccurate and outdated material from 1987, according to some scholars. History-Social Science is the only major subject area that has not been updated after new Standards were recently created for Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Science.
The Governor's stated reasons for vetoing the bill reflected faulty arguments put forth by the SBE and were based in part on the internal tension between the Superintendent's Office and the State Board, asserted Kalra.
Specifically, the Governor's veto message cited the absence of a role for the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory body to the SBE on curriculum matters, in creating new History-Social Science Content Standards under SB 1057. The IQC, however, lacks clear statutory authority to do so, and SB 1057 followed the same procedure utilized to update the Science Standards in a similar bill that was previously signed into law by the Governor.
Governor Brown further erroneously noted that SB 1057 would slow down the ongoing process to adopt History-Social Science Frameworks, or the blueprints for implementing the Standards. The timeline for creating new Standards set out in SB 1057 would not have conflicted with the ongoing Frameworks process. Moreover, the Frameworks still must be aligned to the 1998 Standards, and are thus considered inadequate to address much deeper and systematic problems with the textbooks.
HAF, which was part of the coalition supporting SB 1057, lauded State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett for spearheading the bill and described the Governor's veto as only a temporary setback.
"We are extremely grateful to Senator Corbett for her leadership on this issue, as well as for the support of other state legislators and the diverse coalition of supporting organizations and individuals," added Kalra. "While Governor Brown's veto is deeply disappointing, we plan on continuing to work closely with our coalition partners to ensure that all religions, ethnicities, and cultures are portrayed accurately and fairly in California's History-Social Science textbooks."