California teachers, including those working in community colleges, would receive six weeks of paid maternity leave under a bill currently before Gov. Jerry Brown, according to Education Week.
The proposal would keep teachers from having to use their paid vacation and sick days to care for a new child or after a miscarriage.
A coalition of school district, charter school and community college officials, however, is opposed to the bill, saying that covering the cost of paid leave would draw money away from instruction and other services for students.
The paid maternity leave bill is the latest example of trying to make the teaching profession in California more attractive to teachers and to retain those already in the classroom. While educators who have been at their jobs for at least one year can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, many teachers can’t afford to take that much time off without pay.
California is one of four states that offer paid family leave through disability insurance, but most educators don’t pay into that program. “This forces female employees to deplete their sick or vacation leave for pregnancy and childbirth, ‘schedule’ pregnancies around the academic calendar or try to get by without pay, and frequently return to work before fully recuperated," according to a statement from the California Federation of Teachers.
A survey of California school districts conducted last year by the Learning Policy Institute and the California School Boards Association shows that some school districts have already offered paid maternity or paternity leave as a strategy for recruiting and retaining teachers. Of the 211 districts that responded to the survey, 23% said they had offered this benefit.