Classified employees took two giant steps forward in Sacramento during 2016 after the CFT shepherded four bills through the state Legislature that address staff priorities. Gov. Jerry Brown signed two of the bills.

AB 2122 appropriates $20 million over five years to encourage classified employees to return to school and become teachers. Grants from the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program to districts and county offices of education will provide up to $4,000 annually to staff seeking a bachelor’s degree and credential.

Already, Ventura County reports that about 140 classified employees have signed up for teacher grants through their county office of education. Staff will be allowed do their student teaching during work time, and some universities are offering a
15 percent reduction in tuition.

AB 2393 provides paid family leave for staff and community college faculty. Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) championed the bill that provides a balance between family and work for all employees. Campos’ bill provides full- and part-time staff in K-12 and community college up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for both new mothers and fathers.

“Gov. Brown agrees that school employees should not have to choose between bonding with their newborns and having enough money to pay their bills,” Campos said.

Brown wasn’t as generous, however, with two bills that have remained out of classified employees’ reach for years. The governor vetoed AB 2197, which would have extended unemployment insurance to staff during summer and other extended periods when school is not in session, and AB 1878, which would have helped staff cope with rising funeral costs by tying the CalPERS death benefit to inflation.