BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

           AB 544
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          AB 544 (Coto)
          As Amended  July 8, 2009
          Majority vote
          |ASSEMBLY:  |76-0 |(May 28, 2009)  |SENATE: |39-0 |(August 24,    |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2009)          |
           Original Committee Reference:   ED  . 

           SUMMARY  :  Establishes the American Indian languages credential;  
          and, authorizes people fluent in Native American languages to  
          teach those languages in public schools.  

           The Senate amendments  specify that the technical assistance  
          program shall be offered by teachers credentialed in an American  
          Indian language who have three or more years of teaching  
          experience, to the extent feasible.
          AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill was substantively similar  
          to the version approved by the Senate.  
           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.

           COMMENTS  :  This bill establishes the American Indian languages  
          credential to authorize fluent speakers of American Indian  
          languages to teach those languages in public schools.  Native  
          American Indian languages are growing increasingly more rare  
          each year.  In an attempt to re-establish the number of fluent  
          speakers, this new credential would authorize fluent speakers to  
          teach the language in public schools.  

          There are currently at least 107 federally recognized tribes in  
          California, and under the provisions of this bill, each tribe  
          would have the authority to create their own assessment system  
          for their language.  Tribal languages differ greatly throughout  
          the state in grammatical and linguistic structure and cultural  
          content.  The ability of these tribes to develop their own  
          assessments is important to maintain the integrity of each of  
          their differing language characteristics. 


           AB 544
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          According to the author, native languages in California are at a  
          critical stage.  This bill will set a standard for how each  
          tribe can determine the following: which dialects of the tribal  
          language will be included in the assessment, whether the Indian  
          tribe will standardize its writing system, the standard of  
          knowledge and fluency required to qualify for an American Indian  
          credential in their tribal language, and the standards for  
          effective teaching methods to be evaluated in the classroom.   
          This will stand as an affirmation that teaching American Indian  
          languages is essential to the proper education of American  
          Indian children. 

          Eminence Credential:  The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is  
          authorized to grant an eminence credential to an individual who  
          is eminent in a specific endeavor and is recognized as such  
          beyond the boundaries of his or her community, has demonstrably  
          advanced his or her field and has been acknowledged by his or  
          her peers beyond the norm for others in the specific endeavor.   
          Eminence credentials are only available at the recommendation of  
          an employing agency and the employing agency must demonstrate  
          how the eminent individual will enrich the educational quality  
          of the employing agency.  The credential established by this  
          bill is similar to the eminence credential; however, it has  
          different requirements than the existing eminence credential.  

          Other State Policies:  At least sixteen other states have  
          developed policies to allow Native American Language teachers to  
          teach in public schools.  Those states include: Alaska, Arizona,  
          Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico,  
          North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington,  
          Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Twelve of these states involve tribes  
          either directly or indirectly, in the process of certifying,  
          licensing, or endorsing the teachers of Native languages in the  
          state public schools.  AB 544 is closely modeled after the laws  
          established in Idaho and Oregon.

          According to the American Indian Education Oversight Committee,  
          other states have developed memorandums of understanding with  
          tribes to meet the requirements of the Native American Languages  
          Act of 1990.  California will soon be reviewing a way to meet  
          the requirement, but has nothing currently in place.  Native  
          language teachers are therefore out of compliance with the No  
          Child Left Behind Act, Highly Qualified Teacher requirements.   
          The provisions in this bill are consistent with the  


           AB 544
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          recommendations of the American Indian Education Oversight  

          Previous Legislation:  SB 1643 (Torlakson) from 2008 would have  
          authorized a county superintendent of schools to issue an  
          eminence teaching credential, until January 1, 2014, to a person  
          who has demonstrated subject matter competence through an  
          examination, college degree, or work experience, as specified.   
          The bill was held on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense file.

          SB 41 (Alpert and Brulte), Chapter 870, Statutes of 2001,  
          enabled the State Librarian to establish a competitive grants  
          program for the development of educational materials on  
          California Native American history, culture, and tribal  
          sovereignty for use in grades K-12.  The bill also required the  
          State Librarian to develop the California's American Indian  
          Nations Information Project.

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Chelsea Kelley / ED. / (916) 319-2087 

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