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California Parents, Administrators, Educators and Community Groups Urge NO Vote on Bill that Creates Private School with Public Funds

(Sacramento, CA) – California parents, administrators, educators and community groups are calling on legislators to oppose a bill that creates a private school with public funds. The broad coalition opposes AB 1217 by Assembly Members Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) which would establish a new, independently-run science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school in Los Angeles County.

The authors suggest that 15 other states have a similar state STEM school, but the majority of these are voucher states and many charge money for students to attend.

“AB 1217 is another attempt to deliver our public schools into the hands of unaccountable private actors,” said Susan Henry, President of the California School Boards Association. “There are plenty of ways to establish new schools under existing law, but instead of using one of them, this bill sets a precedent that undermines local control of public schools. We encourage the Legislature to defeat AB 1217 and to focus on supporting and strengthening all public schools.”

The state STEM school would have a seven-member governing board, the composition of which is unclear and not well-defined. The timing of this bill is causing deep concerns and creating speculation.

“This is a disturbing billionaire power play at the end of session,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation. “No one has offered even one coherent explanation as to why the state should disregard local control that protects students and parents. Yet those pushing this bill seem intent on moving forward without any hearings, public debate or scrutiny. These kinds of last-minute shenanigans set a terrible precedent and create an even more cynical view of the Legislature. This is a bad idea with questionable motivations. We call on the Legislature to do the right thing by stopping this effort to push terrible policy under the radar.”

Additionally, AB 1217 provides no authority to shut down the school – even if the school breaks the law by charging money or weeding out certain children or families – and goes against local control. Unlike other public schools, there is no authority to shut down this school even if the school is harmful or unsafe to students. This proposed school is guaranteed to exist for five years. While the school must do reports to the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), the SPI has no authority to shut down the school or to demand that operators comply with agreements.

"Parents and communities should have a say in how their local schools are run,” said Debra Pearson, Executive Director of the Small School Districts’ Association. “AB 1217 would set a dangerous precedent of the State authorizing schools to locate in communities over the objections of local voters and taxpayers. Current law already allows for backers of AB 1217 to create their desired STEM school – they should use that process."

The Department of Finance’s analysis is opposed to this bill, stating “it would be more appropriate for the school to first seek establishment through its local school district, and if denied, go through the remaining steps of the existing process.”

Finally, this publicly-funded private school proposal could exploit a loophole to skirt good government and other statutes.

The coalition is urging parents and community supporters to call their California Senator at 855-977-0202. The bill could come up for a floor vote at any time prior to the end of the legislative session.

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Beatty Bill to Equip More Americans for the Jobs of Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) recently introduced the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act, H.R. 3119, a bill to empower school districts to better engage girls, young women and underrepresented minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Reflecting on her bill, Beatty said, “We need highly trained Americans—hardworking individuals from all walks of life—ready for the jobs of tomorrow. A highly-skilled, STEM-educated workforce is essential to ensuring U.S. competitiveness and leadership in a rapidly changing global economy.” Beatty continued, “Unfortunately, our country is facing a shortage of tens of thousands of workers skilled in these areas. This important piece of legislation would help broaden the STEM pipeline to include our fellow Americans who have been historically underrepresented, creating a larger, more diverse STEM talent pool that our nation so desperately needs.”

If enacted, the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act would provide funding for local school districts to create the necessary infrastructure for enhanced STEM learning early in a student’s academic career. Federal funding would be used to improve professional development for teachers, strengthen outreach to parents, provide mentoring and tutoring programs, expand access to afterschool and summer programs that provide additional enrichment opportunities in STEM, and promote academic advice and assistance in high school course selection that encourages girls and underrepresented minorities to take advanced STEM classes and become STEM professionals.

Beatty’s bill comes on the heels of General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra’s announcement that the car-making giant will begin training teachers and working with students, specifically girls and minorities, in grade school for jobs in computer engineering. Through their new outreach efforts, GM hopes to encourage more students to pursue careers in coding and to lead the effort in building self-driving automobiles.

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Edison International Announces 30 High School Seniors Awarded $1.2 Million in Scholarships

ROSEMEAD, Calif., April 13, 2017 — Thirty high school seniors have learned their passion for science, technology, engineering or math — known as STEM — has paid off with each receiving a $40,000 scholarship through Edison International’s $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program.  

This year’s scholars are: Jose A La Torre, Newport Harbor H.S., Newport Beach; Collin Adelseck, Arnold O. Beckman H.S., Irvine; Chidinma “Promise” Agbo, Norwalk H.S.; Armani Aguiar, Garfield H.S., Los Angeles; Ana Alba, Da Vinci Science School, Hawthorne; Arlene Aleman, Paramount H.S.; Mike Bao, Troy H.S., Fullerton; Lisa Bi, Hillcrest H.S., Riverside; Juan Carrillo, Channel Islands H.S., Oxnard; Chun Feng Chen, Arroyo H.S., El Monte; Jesus Contreras Magana, Santa Paula H.S.; Evan Corriere,Marina H.S., Huntington Beach; Dylan Dickerson, Elsinore H.S., Wildomar; Ashley Eckert, Desert Hot Springs H.S.; Mustafa Elmahdi, Quartz Hill H.S.; Keslee Green, Hanford H.S.; Yiwen Jiang, Eleanor Roosevelt H.S., Eastvale; Paiam Moghaddam, Woodbridge H.S., Irvine; Alfred Molina, St. John Bosco H.S., Bellflower; Michael Morrissey Hanson, Ventura H.S.; Alex Nguyen, Bolsa Grande H.S., Garden Grove;Christine Nguyen, El Toro H.S., Lake Forest; Yuanzhi Qin, Ayala H.S., Chino Hills; Ashley Quintana, Rancho Cucamonga H.S.; William Ramos, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Rosemead; Maria Rodelo-Sandoval, Granite Hills H.S., Porterville; Mireille Vargas, Santa Paula H.S.; Gissele Vazquez, Oxnard H.S.; Katherine Woo, Tesoro H.S., Rancho Santa Margarita; and Esol Yoon, Whitney H.S., Cerritos.

“Edison International congratulates this year’s outstanding scholars,” said Pedro Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International. “Through their pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math, we believe these students will make important contributions to our communities and society. We are proud to support them.”

The $40,000 scholarships are paid over four years to scholar recipients who plan to pursue studies in STEM fields at an accredited four-year college or university. Eligible students must live in or attend a public or private high school in Southern California Edison’s service territory or attend an eligible high school surrounding SCE’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Edison International’s support of charitable causes such as the Edison Scholars Program is funded entirely by Edison International shareholders. SCE customers’ utility bill payments do not fund company donations. In addition, dependents of Edison International and SCE employees are not eligible for the Edison Scholars Program. For more information on this year’s Edison Scholars, visit on.edison.com/2017EdisonScholars

About Edison International
Edison International (NYSE:EIX), through its subsidiaries, is a generator and distributor of electric power, as well as a provider of energy services and technologies, including renewable energy. Headquartered in Rosemead, Calif., Edison International is the parent company of Southern California Edison, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities.

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