here are several education bills that parents should watch this legislative session.

education bills

here are several education bills that arizona parents should know about.(p o: getty images/istockp o)

a flurry of education bills have been introduced by arizona legislators that could change the way your child is educated and what you pay for college.

they range from requiring at least 50 minutes of recess each day to a cap on how much state universities can increase tuition each year. another would allow k-12 to use public money to help pay for tuition at private schools.

we'll be updating each bill's progress (or lack of progress) during the legislative session, so check back regularly.

some bills won't make it all the way to becoming law.

but because no bill is ever really dead until the arizona legislature adjourns, we've picked out 12 to watch this legislative season.

we've also included lots of web links below so you can look up even more information about the topics that interest you.

1. mandatory recess for all

house bill 2082 would require all arizona district and charter schools to give their students in kindergarten through fifth grade at least 50 minutes of free-play recess time each day.

schools can decide how they want to allocate that time. however, they would not be allowed to withhold recess time from students as punishment without notifying parents first.

the controversy: recess policy is currently left for school districts and charter schools to hammer out on their own. some stipulate 20 minutes of recess a day. others don't have any formal recess policies.

parents who support this legislation say it's necessary to reverse a trend they say is troubling: schools shorting recess time in favor of more instruction in the cl room.

sponsor: rep. jesus rubalcava, d-gila bend.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the house education committee p ed the bill on a 11-0 vote jan. 30.

2. cap on tuition increases

senate bill 1061 would limit tuition increases at arizona state university, university of arizona and northern arizona university to no more than 2 percent a year.

the controversy: cuts in state funding resulted in tuition rates that nearly doubled during the recession at the state universities. the increases approved by the arizona board of regents have been more modest in recent years. this bill would impose legislative limits, for the first time, on tuition.

the regents are opposed. board members contend they have worked hard to keep rates low, and many in-state students pay well below the published rates once grants and scholarships are factored in.

sponsor: sen. sylvia allen, r-snowflake.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was held in the senate education committee on jan. 26.

3. expanding school vouchers

senate bill 1431 would expand the state's empowerment scholarship accounts program, a voucher-type system that allows eligible students to take 90 percent of the per-pupil funding schools receive to use toward private-school tuition. all arizona public-school students would be eligible for so-called vouchers by 2020.

the bill mandates students who are esa recipients be tested for academic achievement.

the controversy: the legislature introduced school vouchers in 2011 and has gradually expanded the program to include more eligible students. lawmakers made an unsuccessful expansion effort similar to this one last year.

a recent state audit found more than $102,000 in esa funds were misspent, and less than 15 percent of those funds have been recovered.

sponsor: sen. debbie lesko, r-peoria

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was introduced jan. 30 and has been igned to the senate education committee.

4. repealing ban on ethnic studies

senate bill 1126 would repeal a 2011 law that prohibits district and charter schools from teaching cl es in kindergarten through 12th grade that "promote the overthrow of the u.s. government, promote resentment toward a race or cl of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity."

schools that don't abide by that law risk losing some state money.

the controversy: legislation to expand the so-called ethnic-studies ban to the state's universities died earlier in this legislative session after public outcry among students and academics. lawmakers supporting that proposed legislation described it as an anti-discrimination bill.

sponsor: sen. martin quezada, d-phoenix

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was introduced jan. 17 and igned to the senate education committee.

5. sunscreen restricted at some schools

house bill 2134 would require public school districts, charter schools and children's ps to allow kids to carry and apply sunscreen while at school.

the controversy: sunscreen, like ibuprofen or cough medicine, is regulated by the u.s. food and drug administration as an over-the-counter drug. as such, many school policies ban it without a doctor's note.

if signed into law,  arizona would be the fourth state in the country to explicitly allow sunscreen at school. california, oregon and texas have similar laws.

sponsor: rep. heather carter, r-cave creek.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill has been igned to the house's health committee.

6. promoting early intervention for dyslexia

under house bill 2202, the state department of education would be required to develop a handbook for schools on how to identify and teach students who are dyslexic.

the controversy: rep. jill norgaard, the sponsor of the bill, said at a recent hearing that the bill’s intent is to help ensure schools are equipped to screen kids who could have dyslexia at early ages. schools have varying policies for identifying students with dyslexia, norgaard said, noting that many schools do not have such a handbook that gives guidelines on dyslexia.

sponsor: rep. jill norgaard, r-ahwatukee foothills

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the house education committee p ed the bill on a 11-0 vote jan. 30.

7. required checklist for going to college

house bill 2361 would require each district and charter high school to include a checklist on all students' report cards that shows their progress in meeting the admissions requirements for the state's three public universities: asu, ua and nau. the bill also would require schools to "communicate information" to students on the financial-aid process.

the controversy: boosting college and career readiness has been the guiding push for recent state education policy — from learning standards to testing.

a 2015 arizona board of regents study showed a sobering statistic: less than half of arizona students were eligible for admission into the state's three universities.

a recent report found that less than one-third of phoenix students fill out the free application for federal student aid, or fafsa.

sponsor: rep. reginald bolding, d-laveen

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was introduced jan. 25 and igned to the house education committee.

8. free college testing for high-school students

house bill 2210 would require the state board of education to approve a standardized college entrance exam (i.e. the or act) for all 11th-grade district and charter school students to take at no cost to them. the state board would also be required to make available for 12th-grade students the college exam and career readiness essments that test work skills.

the controversy: the bill hones in on the effort gov. doug ducey unveiled in september to raise the state's postsecondary college and career attainment rate among arizona adults to 60 percent by 2030. the state would be required to front the bill for the tests, though the actual cost is unclear.

the state is also figuring out the feasibility of the "menu of essments" law signed by ducey last year. that law is intended to allow schools to use essments other than azmerit to test the mastery of the state's learning standards. some of those tests presumably include the act and .

sponsor: rep. heather carter, r-cave creek.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was introduced jan. 12 and igned to the house education committee.

9. overhaul university governing board system

have a child in college or considering a state school in the future? the arizona board of regents is in charge of setting tuition rates, hiring university presidents and setting policies for the three state universities.  house bill 2359 would restructure the board and add three governing bodies, one for each university.

the controversy: the sponsors say the change would provide more local control and better cost controls. the regents are opposed, saying the current model of a single board reduces redundancies and operation costs among the universities.

sponsors: reps. mark finchem, r-tucson and jill norgaard, r-phoenix.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was introduced jan. 25 and must p two committees to go forward: the house education committee and the federalism, property rights and public policy committee.

10. how employable are college graduates?

house bill 2283 would require community colleges and state universities to tell students and parents how employable they will be based on their chosen program of study.

the controversy: schools would have to provide national employment statistics for each academic degree program. they would also have to warn students that participating in that program or course may not result in employment. these sort of employment reporting requirements have been controversial because of the sheer number of academic degree programs available.

critics say it's impossible to capture employment information for every degree.

sponsor: rep. bob thorpe, r-flagstaff.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: the bill was igned to the house's education committee.

11. prioritize police in schools

senate bill 1099 would prioritize funding for police officers on k-12 school puses. schools would be required to track incidents in which law enforcement responded to the pus and criminal activity on or around pus. these stats would be used to prioritize igning officers to schools with higher numbers of incidents.

the controversy: under state law, the school safety program oversight committee now handles grants for school-resource officers. this legislation would put the arizona department of education in charge of the grants. schools with higher incidences of police activity would have priority to receive officers, as well as schools with agreements to share the costs of officers' salaries with local law enforcement.

sponsor: sen.kimberly yee.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands:  p ed the senate education committee on jan. 26 with a 6-1 vote.

12. student journalist protections

senate bill 1384 would provide protections for student journalists and their advisers at high schools, community colleges and universities.

the controversy: nearly every year, a school somewhere in the country makes the news for killing an article before publication written by a school journalist. the adviser is then suddenly “re igned” to another job.

this bill makes it clear student journalists may exercise freedom of the press in school-sponsored media and aren’t limited solely because the publication receives financial support from a school district, community college or university.

student media advisers also can’t be retaliated against, fired or re igned for protecting student journalists.

student journalists would still have to abide by certain rules, though. for instance, they can’t libel or slander or break federal or state law.

sponsor: sen. kimberly yee.

read the bill here.

where the legislation stands: bill p ed the senate education committee on feb. 2 with a 7-0 vote.

reach the reporter at 602-444-8072 or [email protected]

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