Irwin introduces workforce development package

Jacqui Irwin

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, has introduced two bills that would modernize community colleges and prepare students for the “21st century economy.”

Assembly Bill 405 would create pilot programs at select community college districts throughout the state to offer Bachelor of Applied Sciences degrees in cybersecurity, and another piece of introduced legislation would require California community colleges to use multiple measures, including high school transcript data, when placing students into college courses.

Irwin, who is chair of the Select Committee on Cybersecurity, says that an increase in cyberattacks worldwide, paired with a shortage of cybersecurity workers, puts the state in a precarious situation.

“This bill will make a clear pathway for more students to get trained in this vital field,” said Irwin. “We need to ensure that we have a skilled workforce in this industry. Otherwise we are left vulnerable to attacks.”

Jackson bill to combat fake news, honors local women

Hannah-Beth Jackson

When the president of these United States accuses a news organization of being “fake news,” one wonders how we common folk are to figure out what is what in the digital landscape. Fear not, future generations: Legislation introduced by State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, could alleviate the stress of separating reality from fiction.

SB-203 would “establish strategies for ensuring that digital citizenship, Internet safety and media literacy” become part of the state’s educational goals and would establish a state-based agency comprising educators, administrators, parents and researchers in oversight by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to develop strategies for bringing critical-thinking skills to the classroom in regard to digital and social media.

“This legislation is about ensuring we have an informed citizenry,” said Jackson, adding that the legislation was conceived during the most recent presidential election and in response to a “lack of civility” in online forums. “The role of the media and technology is only growing. The skills we teach kids today about critical thinking, the role of media in their lives and how best to interact with social media, fake news and technology will help keep them safe and serve them into adulthood.”

The bill has been referred to the Commission on Education for further review.

On Thursday, March 23, Jackson will be in attendance to honor the Ventura County Women of the Year at a reception to be held in Ventura.

Four women from a wide spectrum of public and community organizations will be honored, including Kim Evans, executive director and founder of the Ventura County Military Collaborative; Alicia Flores, executive director of La Hermandad Hank Lacayo Youth and Family Center; Dr. Cynthia Herrera, dean of institutional effectiveness at Oxnard College; and Suz Montgomery, advocate for seniors as a teacher with the Ventura Unified School District’s adult education program and creator of the Extended Learning Academy.

Stern’s bill would exempt some teachers from state tax

Henry Stern

State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Agoura Hills, has introduced legislation that would “address the acute statewide teacher shortage in California” by eliminating all state income tax for teachers that remain in the classroom for more than five years and provide tax credits to cover the cost of credentialing training. The bill was co-authored by State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and Assemblymembers Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles.

The bill, SB-807, dubbed the Invest in Teachers” or the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017, seeks to plug the stream of new teachers leaving the profession, with some reports finding that up to 30 percent of new teachers quit within five years of taking their positions. According to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, California teachers leave the system at a rate six times greater than that of other public employees.

“Teachers are the original job creators. The teaching profession is critical to California’s economic success and impacts every vocation and profession in the state,” said Stern. “SB-807 addresses the immediate teacher shortage and sends a loud and clear message across the state and nation: California values teachers. We will help train you and we want you to stay in the classroom.”

The bill, endorsed by the educational nonprofit EdVoice, has been referred to a commission within the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Stern also co-authored an amendment to the California Constitution that would lower the voting age from 18 to 17, which he says would promote participation in elections by millennials who carry the title of being the least-represented voting block — with only 8.2 percent of California’s eligible youth voting in 2014.