Capitol Alert

Bill takes aim at Teach for America + Covering in vitro fertilization + Cash and politics

In this 2016 file photo, Homedale middle school teacher Rebecca Alamilla talks with her students Tuesday during a nutrition class. Alamilla was part of the Teach for America program, an alternative certification program for teachers that places them in hard-to-fill spots in rural and urban districts. Three local school districts have TFA teachers on staff, including Homedale.
In this 2016 file photo, Homedale middle school teacher Rebecca Alamilla talks with her students Tuesday during a nutrition class. Alamilla was part of the Teach for America program, an alternative certification program for teachers that places them in hard-to-fill spots in rural and urban districts. Three local school districts have TFA teachers on staff, including Homedale.

Hey, it’s Wednesday!


The alternative teaching program Teach for America is facing a battle in the California Legislature today.

Assembly Bill 221 would prohibit placing TFA teachers in schools with 40 percent of its students from low-income families. The author, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, is sounding the alarm on the organization’s effectiveness and TFA teacher attrition rates.

Garcia, a former math teacher, said she wants to bring classroom experience into a legislative process.

TFA was launched in 1990 as a less than 500-member organization that aimed to address education inequity in New York, Los Angeles and parts of the South. Teach for America now includes 60,000 alumni and corps members across 51 regions, including expansions in California to the Bay Area, Capital Valley and San Diego.

The premise of the corps is that teachers are trained during an intensive summer program and then placed in schools with the presumption that they will complete a two-year classroom commitment. Charter and public schools facing recruiting challenges and that have a high population of low-income and students of color often hire the teachers to help alleviate resource deficiencies.

During an Assembly Committee on Education hearing today at 1:30 p.m., lawmakers are expected to analyze the organization’s credentialing process, whether the corps recruits diverse teachers and if corps members do more harm than good if they leave the classroom after two years.

“The reality is that if you have a teacher only there for two years before they reach proficiency and are leaving, are we fixing a problem or are we ignoring it as a real problem that we have?” Garcia told The Bee.

In a response statement to AB 221, Teach for America said the proposal harms “hard-to-staff schools” and would further exacerbate a critical teacher shortage in California school districts.

“Teach for America wants to figure out how to elevate the teaching career,” said Lida Jennings, executive director of the L.A. corps. “We’re all in for that fight for teachers and kids. We are part of the landscape. We are part of the impact. We’re not pretending to be the people who solve (teacher shortages), but are we part of the solution and part of the progress? Absolutely.”

Garcia said she is open to making amendments to the bill, which includes limiting the number of TFA teachers placed in schools and securing a five-year commitment from corps members.

“Let’s stop putting up pretend solutions and force ourselves to deal with the problem immediately,” Garcia continued. “If I’m going to let you learn on the job, at a cost to my students, I need proficiency out of that. These vulnerable students shouldn’t be a stepping stone.”

Disclaimer: I’m an alum of Teach for America.


RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association will be at the Capitol today to advocate on behalf of Californians who are struggling with family building and want to see legislative action to improve access to fertilization health care.

The group members will meet with lawmakers to discuss coverage for in vitro fertilization and fertility preservation treatments.

To accomplish their goals, RESOLVE is rallying support for Assembly Bill 767, authored by Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, and Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge.

“Our community has told us that the number one barrier to getting the care they need is cost,” said Barbara Collura, RESOLVE’s CEO.

Collura said more than 40 members will meet with representatives throughout the day to share how they’ve paid for treatments, including incurring credit card debt, selling personal belongings, borrowing from family and starting fundraising pages. IVF costs on average $12,000 and can require multiple rounds to be successful.

“You have an individual who doesn’t have the health insurance to cover (treatments) and are looking at $10,00-$15,000 times three,” Collura said. “That becomes out of reach for most of us and that’s a lot of debt to incur and a lot of money to borrow. So what are you going to do? You are faced with doing it one time and putting all your hope on one chance.”

AB 767 creates health coverage opportunities for IVF and would require religiously affiliated employers, service plans and insurance policies to provide coverage for infertility treatments. SB 600 authorizes fertility preservation coverage for cancer patients.


The California Budget and Policy Center is holding its annual conference today, with Ann O’Leary, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff, expected to deliver the morning address.

The event is bringing together lawmakers, policy analysts, social activists, organization leaders and topic experts for a daylong discussion on overcoming California’s greatest legislative and budgetary obstacles.

Senate Budget Committee Chair Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said she plans to advocate for CalWORKs grant increases, more child care slots for children, and affordable housing and homelessness solutions. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, echoed Mitchell’s call for affordable housing and combatting homelessness, and plans to address other budgetary concerns when she speaks today.

“Key priorities to improve Californians way of life is to continue to build reserves to protect the state from the next economic downturn, pay down debts and make smart investments in key areas,” Atkins said. “One such example is to expand upon California’s Earned Income Tax Credit – one on my proudest accomplishments when I was Speaker of the Assembly.”

On the conference agenda is, according to the center’s website:

  • tax and budget policy

  • poverty and inequality

  • health

  • education

  • housing

  • race equity

  • federal budget outlook

  • early childhood education

  • criminal justice

You can still register for last-minute tickets here. The complete schedule and comprehensive list of speakers is also available.

For your radar — The Assembly Committee on Banking and Finance is hosting Richard Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, during a hearing today on President Donald Trump’s consumer protection exemptions. On the agenda is discussions related to payday lending, student loan borrowing and state enforcement policies to “fill gaps left by the federal rollbacks.”

The meeting is from 1 to 3 p.m. in room 437.


You mean presidential hopefuls don’t always have to slash each other’s policy tires?


The race to be the first woman governor is on!

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.