Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Favorite Sections of California Education Code

I've always tried to make it a point to know about the rules that govern my job, and to follow those rules religiously. Additionally, I enjoy being a resource people can come to when they want accurate information and not just the rumor mill on a topic. This knowledge, and my insistence on following rules, has saved my hide on more than one occasion. Sometimes it makes me a pain in the backside to my bosses who knowingly violate such rules or allow rules to be violated.

But that's a topic for another post.

Tonight I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite sections of the California Education Code, both serious and humorous, along with applicable commentary. Conveniently, much of California's law can be found online by going to and clicking on "California Law". It's amazing, the things you learn when you actually read the law. (Want a real surprise? Read what the law says about Gifted and Talented Education and see if your school complies. It probably doesn't.) So now, without further ado, here's what the law actually says on certain topics.

48908. All pupils shall comply with the regulations, pursue the required course of study, and submit to the authority of the teachers of the schools.

Read it again, boys and girls. It's not just a class or school rule, it's the law. This means you could actually be cited for failure to comply. This one isn't funny, it's serious. Let me add, however, that teachers should exercise their authority in a responsible manner or risk breeding comtempt for authority and for the law from which it emanates. I wonder, though--is there a separate section that deals with submitting to the authority of principals and vice principals? I haven't looked!

49066. (a) When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil's grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.

I discussed my standards in my February 7th post called Grading. I also stated that I don't change grades because of parent complaints, student tears, or personal convenience. This law says I don't have to. Really aggressive/overly protective parents, this means that a call to the principal won't be effective, either.

52720. In every public elementary school each day during the school year at the beginning of the first regularly scheduled class or activity period at which the majority of the pupils of the school normally begin the schoolday, there shall be conducted appropriate patriotic exercises. The giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy the requirements
of this section.

In every public secondary school there shall be conducted daily appropriate patriotic exercises. The giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy such requirement. Such patriotic exercises for secondary schools shall be conducted in accordance with the regulations which shall be adopted by the governing board of the district maintaining the secondary school.

Can you believe there was vicious opposition at my school to implementing this law and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, so we settled on a daily patriotic quote instead?

51530. No teacher giving instruction in any school, or on any property belonging to any agencies included in the public school system, shall advocate or teach communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism.

In prohibiting the advocacy or teaching of communism with the intent of indoctrinating or inculcating a preference in the mind of any pupil for such doctrine, the Legislature does not intend to prevent the teaching of the facts about communism. Rather, the Legislature intends to prevent the advocacy of, or inculcation and indoctrination into, communism as is hereinafter defined, for the purpose of undermining patriotism for, and the belief in, the government of the United States and of this state.

For the purposes of this section, communism is a political theory that the presently existing form of government of the United States or of this state should be changed, by force, violence, or other unconstitutional means, to a totalitarian dictatorship which is based on the principles of communism as expounded by Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.

Mr. McCarthy? Your wife's calling. There's something under the bed.

Seriously, this has to be a leftover from the 50's. So here we are, 50 years later, and that law is still on the books. This tells me it's never been challenged (I find that hard to believe, especially here in lefty/litigious California) or that's it's constitutional. I must admit, I support the intent of this section. While some might cry that it runs afoul of the 1st Amendment, I assert that no one can reasonably claim that a government entity should be required to continue to employ individuals who seek the overthrow of that government! So while this section appears anachronistic, its genesis is in the very serious topic of just how much dissent a worker can demonstrate while on the job and on the public dime. Still, I have a few colleagues whom I believe cross this line, who in my opinion advocate for Communism--or at least for extreme socialism. I'm not the school's chief law enforcer, though, and there are other issues on which I'm more willing to plant my standard and fight. But I know, and they know I know, and we watch each other through binoculars from across the border. Still, we're more than civil to each other. In the 70's we called that detente.

49050. No school employee shall conduct a search that involves:
(a) Conducting a body cavity search of a pupil manually or with an instrument.
(b) Removing or arranging any or all of the clothing of a pupil to permit a visual inspection of the underclothing, breast, buttocks, or genitalia of the pupil.

I have to ask. What exactly was going on in schools such that this law had to be written? And freakin' instruments??? Dear God!

Unfortunately, part of this law is no longer applicable. On any given day I can see, with no rearranging at all, the undergarments of dozens of my students. Why do boys want me to see their boxers? Why do girls want me to see their thongs? Parents, why are your 16-year-old daughters even wearing thongs? Ewwwwwwwwwww!

When I started writing this post, my intent was to make it funny. Now that I reread it I find that I've failed miserably. I guess I'll have to content myself with the hope that you, the reader, might at least have learned something from it.

I have in mind a future post about laws that schools violate on a regular basis. For a sneak preview, go check out Ed Code Section 38118.

Good night.


Walter E. Wallis said...

Teaching or advocating communism is correctly prohibited just as teaching racial superiority from either the KKK slant or the Brotherhood view are also correctly prohibited.

Darren said...

I don't see the connection between advocating racial superiority, which is not a form of government, and advocating communism, which is. The former would hopefully run afoul of some other law, though.

Odd that I can advocate for a monarchy, or a parliamentary style of government, and not be in violation of this statute.

EdWonk said...

We Enjoyed Reading This One !

We've linked this post over at The Carnival Of Education: Week 2 It may be seen here:

Darren said...

I *heart* links. Thanks, Edwonk!

Dan Edwards said...


Fun post. I'm glad to see other classroom teachers check out the Ed Code on occasion. I also noted that a teacher can be fired for being a member of the Communist Party. At my school, we had a teacher called into the superintendents office to discuss his classroom posters of Lenin and Mao. They "disappeared" from his classroom, apparently he could not provide the revelency to his math curriculum. KEEP BLOGGING! :-)

sexyangel2k6 said...

This is my personal favorite:

38118. Writing and drawing paper, pens, inks, blackboards,
blackboard erasers, crayons, lead pencils, and other necessary
supplies for the use of the schools, shall be furnished under
direction of the governing boards of the school districts.
I know so many teachers that violate this code and know that our principal does not do anything about it. I thank you Mr. Miller for teaching us some good life lessons and practical information besides just our math curriculum. It makes your class very enjoyable and much easier to keep paying attention compared to my previous years of math.
Thanks again,