Friday - May 24, 2019

State Legislature bans toxic toys

by Juliana Birnbaum Fox

The California State Senate last week approved landmark legislation which would make California the first state in the country to ban dangerous chemicals used in baby toys.

“The United States has become a dumping ground for chemical filled toys that are banned in much of the industrialized world,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who authored the bill.

The bill, if the governor signs it, would prohibit the manufacture, sale, and distribution of toys and child care products intended for use by children under the age of three that contain certain phthalates. Phthalates interfere with the hormone system and have been linked to reproductive defects, premature birth, and the early onset of puberty. Fourteen countries and the European Union have already banned or are phasing out the chemical.

Study finds positive outcomes at San Francisco’s Behavioral Health Court

A study focused exclusively on the criminal justice outcomes of the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court concludes that such courts reduce recidivism and violence among people with mental disorders. According to the report, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the proportion of people entering U.S.jails who have severe mental disorders has been estimated to be between six and fifteen percent.

“We are proud of the results of this study,” said Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Johnson. “It confirms that treatment is not only the humane solution, but also one that benefits public safety and stops the revolving door of hospitalization, incarceration andhomelessness.”

Grant geared towards preparing more students for college

SFUSD was recently awarded a $2.3 million dollar grant each year for the next five years with the goal of preparing 90% of participating students to apply to college in their senior year. GEAR UP is an existing program that has substantially increased the number of low-income middle and high school students who enroll, complete and score higher in college-prep courses each year. It also increases the number of students who pass the California High School Exit Exam. With the new funds, approximately 3,000 students will receive academic tutoring, counseling and support for college planning each year.

School District Seeks Volunteers to Help Special Education Students

The San Francisco Unified School District is recruiting volunteers to make a difference in the education of special needs children. These volunteers will act as a student’s “surrogate parent” for educational issues and will help students who receive special education services. The school district assigns “surrogate parents” when no parent can be located or when juvenile court has limited guardians in making educational decisions for the child. . The surrogate helps to identify and assess the student’s needs, and assists in instructional planning. The volunteer also helps place the student into programs, and reviews the student’s progress. Training provided–to apply call (415) 355-7710 or email

Plan to audit San Francisco City College considered by legislators

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma proposed a compromise that allows San Francisco City College to proceed with its own performance audit, while providing clear assurances that the review protects taxpayer funds.

“The trustees, members of the bond oversight committee and the public have called for greater fiscal oversight at City College for years,” said Assemblywoman Ma. “Together, we will ensure that taxpayer funds are spent wisely and that educational opportunities are expanded all across San Francisco.”