Monday, September 9, 2019

One new law affecting UC, and maybe more to come

We are now in the period in which a flood of bills are passed by the legislature and sent to the governor for signature or veto. Some bills will inevitably affect public higher education in California including UC. Here is one (below), which was signed by the governor on September 6.

Note that the legislature sometimes "respects" the constitutional autonomy of UC and in bills regarding higher ed will order community colleges and CSU to do something, but will simply "request" that UC do it. In the case of the bill below, that nicety was not observed.

AB-809 Public postsecondary education: child development programs: priority enrollment: Title IX protection: pregnancy and parental status.(2019-2020). Summary and analysis:

Requires public postsecondary institutions to post information regarding federal Title IX protections for pregnant and expecting students. Specifically, this bill: 

1) Requires each public postsecondary educational institution to notify pregnant and parenting students of the protections provided by Title IX through prominently posting a notice of the Title IX protections on the institution's internet website.

2) Requires each public postsecondary educational institution with an on-campus medical center to provide notice of the protections provided by Title IX through the medical center to a student who requests information regarding policies or protections for students with children or pregnant students and when otherwise appropriate.

3) Encourages child development programs established by the California Community Colleges (CCC), the California State University (CSU), and the University of California (UC) to give specified priority to children of students who are unmarried and meeting specified income requirements.

4) Specifies that if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to the Government Code, as specified.

COMMENTS: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (United States Code Section 1681, et seq.) requires gender equity in every educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Specifically, it provides that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination.

While it is best known for providing equity to male and female athletics, the regulations implementing Title IX (34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 106.40(a) and (b), et seq.) prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. It is illegal for schools to exclude a pregnant student from participating in any part of an educational program, including classes, extracurricular programs, honor societies, and opportunities for student leadership.

This bill seeks to raise awareness of the rights provided by current law to pregnant and parenting students. 

According to the author, "Current federal and state law does not require universities to publish information regarding pregnant and parenting students' rights under Title IX. Enactment of AB 809 will make information available to pregnant and single parent students regarding their legal rights under Title IX so that they are aware of all the options available to them to stay in school and finish their degree."

"By simply posting Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting students to their websites, colleges and universities will provide students with information that can help them overcome challenges that otherwise may have caused them to leave school. It will also encourage oncampus childcare programs to prioritize children of single parent students to make it easier for students to secure childcare."

Arguments in Support: The California Catholic Conference writes that, "…single parents comprise a growing percentage of college students, but obtaining a degree while juggling the demands of parenthood causes some students to drop out. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, four in ten women attending community college nationwide report that are likely to drop out of school because of parental obligations While rights and protections for pregnant and parenting students already exist under Title IX, many students are unaware of these rights and protections. By 2012, the number of single mothers in college came close to one in five of all women in college…this bill helps single parents overcome challenges that otherwise may cause them to leave college."

Arguments in Opposition: No opposition on file.


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