Dream Act, gay instruction among new school laws

01.03.2012 | The Orange County Register | Fermin Leal

As California’s public schools begin 2012, a series of new laws take effect that will alter classroom instruction, medical issues and financial aid for immigrant students.

Here is a rundown of some of the new legislation that went into effect Jan. 1.

Dream Act: The first part of California’s Dream Act, Assembly Bill 130, will provide access to private scholarships and financial aid to illegal immigrants. To qualify students must attend for at least three years and have graduated from state high schools.

The second part of the act, AB 131, which provides access to public aid for illegal immigrants, goes into effect Jan. 2013.

Transitional kindergarten: Children who start kindergarten must be at least 5 by Sept. 1. School districts must also provide transitional kindergarten programs for more than 120,000 eligible children in California, but only for 4-year-olds born between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. These are children who were old enough to start kindergarten but often struggled to keep up.

FAIR Act: Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are now added to the lengthy list of social and ethnic groups that schools must include in lessons.

Schools must incorporate the history and contributions of these groups in social studies lessons beginning in middle school.

Epilepsy medication: Teachers and other non-medical personnel who receive training can now administer the anti-seizure medication Diastat to students. Before, only nurses and other medical professionals could administer the drug.

Sports safety: Student athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion during a game or practice must be immediately pulled out of action and be cleared by a licensed health care provider.

Common Core Standards: As part of a national effort for states to adopt a common set of instruction standards, California begins to implement a series of policies to develop new curriculum standards for mathematics, English-language arts, and literacy in various content areas for students in kindergarten through grade twelve.

The state Department of Education also begins to develop a list of supplemental instructional materials for use in kindergarten through seventh grade that are aligned with national standards in mathematics, and language arts for kindergarten through eighth grade.

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