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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #24-08
February 26, 2024
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Joins Coalition of Teachers, Elected Leaders, and Allies to Announce Landmark Legislation for Paid Pregnancy Leave for School Employees

Press Conference at the State Capitol for Assembly Bill 2901, the Pregnancy Leave for Educators Act

SACRAMENTO—On Monday, February 26, 2024, at 11 a.m., State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined educators and members of the California Teachers Association on the west steps of the California State Capitol to announce historic legislation—the Pregnancy Leave for Educators Act. The legislation was authored by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Davis) and co-authored by members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, including Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly members Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Liz Ortega (D-Hayward), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-La Palma), and Pilar Schiavo (D-Santa Clarita). Thurmond and California State Treasurer Fiona Ma are co-sponsoring the legislation.

Assembly Bill 2901, the Pregnancy Leave for Educators Act, will fix a broken system for public school educators who go without any paid disability leave related to pregnancy. In California—the fifth largest economy in the world—one of the largest (and predominantly female) workforces in the state is excluded from pregnancy disability leave. This longstanding practice disproportionately discriminates against women educators who are forced to deplete their leave balances to have children. On average, women earn almost $100,000 less in retirement than their male colleagues. This legislation will help address this massive gap in retirement for women educators and help retain educators during a historic educator shortage.

“Teachers must be able to afford to stay in the profession and start a family. By providing paid pregnancy leave for California’s teachers, we will take an important step toward achieving gender equity in teacher pay, and we will also make critical strides toward retaining great teachers to address the staffing crisis in California’s classrooms,” Thurmond said. “The legislation that we announced today is an excellent step in providing greater support for our teachers and educators and, ultimately, the students of California.”

“As a new mom, physically recovering from pregnancy and birth while also caring for a newborn, it is unfathomable that most of us must consider whether or not we are going to get paid,” said Erika Jones, a kindergarten teacher and the Secretary-Treasurer of the California Teachers Association. “Educators devote their lives to their students. Yet, when it comes to their own families, they have to constantly sacrifice because of the lack of basic supports such as paid pregnancy leave. In a field that is primarily women, we need to do better. This bill will bring California into alignment with a worldwide, fundamental standard for reproductive rights in countries across the globe. The predominantly female workforce of our public schools deserves no less. This historic legislation will help build a stronger, better, public school system that benefits all Californians. Educators urge the Legislature to pass this important and long-overdue measure.”

According to data from the Learning Policy Institute that can be found on their State of the Teacher Workforce web page External link opens in new window or tab., 37.1 percent of schools in our state with teaching vacancies found it very difficult to fill the vacancy or could not fill the vacancy. And there is the issue of diversity: California has nearly 268,000 teachers, and only 35.6 percent of teachers in this state are teachers of color—while students of color make up about three-quarters of California’s student population.

More information about AB 2901, the Pregnancy Leave for Educators Act, is available on the California Legislative Information web page External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, February 26, 2024
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