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The Santa Clara County of Education (SCCOE) is Committed to serving, inspiring, and promoting student and public school success.
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SAN JOSE, CA – On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE) unanimously passed a resolution recognizing legislation sponsored by state and federal government officials which are aligned with the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) commitments to prioritize advocacy in the areas of early learning and care, youth mental health, digital equity, data governance, adequacy of funding, special education and homeless and foster youth. These priorities are supported by the commitment of the SCCOE to serve, inspire and promote student and public school success while elevating the SCCOE core principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and partnership.
The SCCOE sponsored three (Senate Bill 508, Assembly Bill 568, and Senate Bill 692), and co-sponsored two (Assembly Bill 1361 and Assembly Bill 1294) legislative bills, under consideration, that promote quality, equitable learning and care, youth mental health and well-being, inclusion, and improved outcomes for California students.
Senate Bill 508, the Student Mental Health legislative bill, would require health plans to collaborate with schools to provide mental health services to students and make services more accessible by expanding the network of school-based mental health practitioners and the use of telehealth.
“There is a positive correlation to fewer suspensions, expulsions, and absences when students have access to mental health and wellness resources available to them on school campuses,” said County Superintendent, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan. “Ensuring that all students, regardless of health insurance provider or disability status, have easily accessible mental health and wellness services, programs and resources integrated into the school campus and culture would support the healthy development of all students.”
Advocating for equitable practices in the education system, Assembly Bill 568, the Early Learning and Care Dashboard legislative bill, would bring together existing and new data on enrollment in, exclusion from, and location of Early Learning and Care (ELC) programs, allowing state and local California policy makers to identify and address the practical and structural barriers that prevent Black and Hispanic children and families from receiving equitable access to high-quality ELC services. The Dashboard would also help identify existing gaps and inequities in the availability of, and access to, early learning and care programs; bringing equality to early learning which will provide California youth with the necessary tools to close both the achievement and graduation gaps that currently exist within the educational system.
Addressing punitive practices within early learning programs, co-sponsored Assembly Bill 1361, Early Learning and Care: Suspension and Expulsion, prohibits suspension and expulsion in state preschool and childcare programs, and requires reporting to the school leadership when expulsion occurs. This bill also acknowledges African American, Black and Hispanic, Latino and students of color who are disproportionately impacted by this practice and strengthens early childhood mental health consultation to provide adequate support to teachers and families, and buffer the effects of toxic stress and trauma.
Reinforcing the need for COVID-19 response and recovery resources for childcare, the Childcare Pilot Sunset Date, Assembly Bill 1294, would remove the end-date to receive budget allocations and solidify funding for childcare subsidy projects, which further expands funding for childcare, preschool and early learning programs.
The Special Education Inclusion Act (SB 692) authored by Senator Dave Cortese supports schools in their efforts to expand options for students with disabilities to learn in inclusive environments.
“SB 692 promotes equitable access to services and inclusive educational practices,” said Dr. Dewan. “The adoption of this legislation would support schools in their efforts to expand inclusive programming options and provide educators with training and professional development such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL).”
Emphasizing the urgent need for continued support of internet access for students and families, the SCCBOE and the County Superintendent of Schools firmly advocate for bills and budget allocations currently being considered by the state and federal government, to address digital equity by expanding high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband access for all residents.
Trustee Peter Ortiz, chair of the SCCBOE’s Joint Legislative Advisory Committee, emphasized the commitment to address equity, diversity, inclusion and partnership through legislative advocacy. “The SCCOE sponsored and co-sponsored legislation seeks to support the advancement of educational systems that fundamentally provide all students with equitable access to inclusive, positive and safe learning environments, while experiencing success throughout their academic journey,” said Ortiz.
The SCCBOE and the County Superintendent of Schools strongly urge action of state and federal government leaders to invest in early care and TK-12 education and school-based mental health and wellness, and pass legislation that addresses inequities in our systems and promotes high quality, equitable, and inclusive birth to 12 care and education.
About the Santa Clara County Office of Education
Working collaboratively with school and community partners, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The County Office of Education directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 22 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.