With No Child Left Behind, the federal government has required all schools to improve student performance, but it has failed to provide the support that students, teachers, and schools need to reach NCLB’s strict goals. Educational growth cannot come through testing alone. Knowing this, I have introduced several bills that will help make schools safer, more stable places for students to grow and learn. When students are safe at school and receive adequate support to meet the challenges they face, they are more likely to stay in school and to thrive there.
Safe Schools Improvement Act: Students cannot learn when they are shamed, intimidated, or in fear for their physical safety. To help all children succeed in school, we must recognize that bullying is not just “kids being kids.” It is harmful and damaging behavior that adults must take seriously. Current federal law provides funds to promote school safety but does not expressly focus on issues of bullying or harassment. As a condition of receiving future Safe Schools funding, the Safe Schools Improvement Act would require schools and districts to ensure that their codes of conduct specifically prohibit bullying and harassment and would require states to include bullying and harassment data in their state-wide reporting. The legislation would also allow schools to train faculty and staff on how to prevent bullying and address it effectively when it does occur. On April 20, 2012, the White House endorsed this bipartisan, common sense legislation.
Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act: The average student-to-counselor ratio in California’s public schools is more than 900 to one, a ratio that hardly allows for individual attention and intensive support. Perhaps that is why we have a drop-out crisis in the nation, with 7,000 students dropping out of high school every single day. Unfortunately, in California, counselor-to-student ratios are almost always determined by the overall student population of a school, rather than by the number of students at risk of dropping out. My bill, the Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act, would address this problem by providing funding for additional counselors in high schools with high drop-out rates. These additional counselors would work intensively with students at risk and would collaborate with parents, teachers, and others to create a comprehensive plan to get these students back on the right track.