Senate panel approves measure that seeks to diversifying state education board

By Jessica Brice The Associated Press
Thursday June 27, 2002

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would impose strict eligibility requirements on members of the State Board of Education, which is now largely comprised of business leaders and former politicians, passed the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. 

The measure by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Los Angeles, seeks to diversify the board by adding members experienced in teaching students with limited English skills. If it becomes law, it would require at least two of the 11 members to be familiar with teaching students who speak little or no English. 

The Senate Education Committee approved the bill on Wednesday, sending it to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Although Education Committee Chairman John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, called the bill “a remarkably good idea,” other committee members said Firebaugh is a “dreamer.” 

“I think the possibility of getting this signed by the governor is not (very) high,” said Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena. 

AB2363 would set up specific criteria for members of the governor-appointed board. Currently, there are no formal requirements that candidates must meet to fill 10 of the positions. The last position, which is a one-year term, must be held by a 12th-grade student at a public school. 

The measure would require the governor to appoint two parents with children in public schools, one public school administrator from a low-performing school, one school board member, three public school teachers and one school employee. Two of the positions would remain open to the general public, while the last position would be reserved for a student. 

The board now includes the former mayors of San Jose and Beverly Hills and the assistant executive director of California’s largest teachers union. High-ranking business executives also sit on the board, including officials of NetFlix.com, Gap Inc. and the former CEO of OneNetNow.com.