California Governor Signs Education Bills, Many Others Are Vetoed

By Michael Fallon — October 10, 1984 3 min read

Sacramento, Calif--Education bills on topics ranging from asbestos control to community service for high-school students have foundered here in recent weeks on vetoes by Gov. George Deukmejian.

However, the Governor has signed other education legislation, including measures to require criminal-records checks of new employees of private schools, to survey the need for “parenting” education, and to update the state’s standardized tests for 12th-grade students.

In messages accompanying a record 306 vetoes--surpassing the 198 vetoes in 1974, the last year that Ronald Reagan was governor--Mr. Deukmejian made clear that an overriding concern for him was to preserve a $950-million state-budget reserve. By his staff’s estimates, the vetoed measures would have cost about $700 million.

Consistently, the Governor cited the 1984-85 budget that he had signed, providing an added $1.9 billion for schools. That amount topped the additional $880 million schools received last year at the outset of an ambitious reform effort.

‘Done Enough for Education’

Bill Honig, California’s state superintendent of public instruction, said his conclusion about the Governor’s most recent vetoes was that the administration “decided they’ve done enough for education, and that’s it. ... I understand the money part of it. I don’t understand some of these other areas.”

Mr. Honig said he was concerned about the Governor’s rejection of bills, not all of them bearing high costs, to examine the feasibility of more widespread instruction in foreign languages, to examine the problem of dropouts more precisely as part of another study, to expand new and not-yet-used honors tests based on the New York State Regents examinations, and to broaden the scope of programs for handicapped children.

Vetoed by the Governor, among 1,425 measures sent to him during the final days of the legislative session, were education bills that would have:

Given schools $61 million, beginning in 1985, to reduce the size of classes to about 20 students in one grade at the elementary level and one grade at the high-school level, provided more writing was required of all students. It would have appropriated an additional $19 million this year for secondary-school textbooks, with half going to the general program and half to science instruction.

Financed removal of hazardous asbestos from school buildings at a cost of $22.5 million in state general funds for both this fiscal year and 1985-86. Instead, the Governor proposed using $10 million this year from tidelands oil revenue and pledged he would propose enough money in the 1985-86 budget to fund the state’s portion of asbestos abatement.

Established programs under which high-school students would serve their communities as part of their education, at a cost to the state general fund of $530,000.

Allocated an additional $53.9 million for specialized equipment and services for students with low-incidence disabilities, for increased aides for programs for the non-severely handicapped, and for new services for high-risk infants.

Required local superintendents and independent auditors to disclose any budget discrepancies that led them to conclude that a school district could face insolvency.

Bills Signed

Signed by the Governor were measures that will:

Require the state department of education to study the feasibility of imposing a foreign-language requirement for high-school graduation. However, Governor Deukmejian deleted a $50,000 appropriation for the study. The bill, in its original form, envisioned a one-year foreign-language requirement for all Cali-fornia high-school students, beginning three years from now.

Require private elementary and secondary schools to file an affadavit that they have obtained a criminal-records summary of each new employee not having a valid state teaching credential.

Require the state education department to survey school districts on current parenting programs and to provide grants to districts to aid them in establishing the programs.

Update and expand the basic-skills examinations given all 12th graders in California public schools.

Direct the department to collect and report to the state legislature information on current school-district efforts to provide nuclear-age education and on students’ beliefs and feelings about life in the nuclear age. The Governor cautioned that his administration will carefully review recommendations made to the legislature and “will not approve of any that are not fairly and factually presented.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 10, 1984 edition of Education Week as California Governor Signs Education Bills, Many Others Are Vetoed