In modern society, getting young people an education isn’t optional. For youths who are under the care of the state—whether in foster care, or in the juvenile justice system—it’s the state that must be responsible for making sure they get a proper education.
While incarcerated youths don’t lose their right to an education, current law doesn’t guarantee them Internet access. That’s a serious problem. With so much information in our society moving online, the Internet has become a critical starting point for research of all kinds. Getting kids a proper education also maximizes their chance of making a successful integration back into society.
For the second year in a row, the California legislature has moved to correct this problem. Last week, lawmakers passed A.B. 2448, a bill that would mandate that kids who are incarcerated or in foster care in California get Internet access so they can further their education.
We supported a similar bill last year that, unfortunately, was vetoed by the governor. While Governor Jerry Brown said he agreed with the bill’s intent, he had concerns about vague language and the costs of providing Internet access.
This year’s bill has been substantially thinned down, and the relevant agencies have had time to prepare for the budgetary impact. As we said last year, if climbers can tweet from Mount Everest, California should be able to manage safe and supervised Internet access from its own facilities.
EFF is part of a coalition of more than a dozen groups that support the bill, including the Youth Law Center, the ACLU, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
This bill also took one step backward from the previous version, which we hope gets corrected in future legislation. Last year’s bill required Internet access for purposes of family communication as well as education, while this year’s bill makes online family communication merely a suggestion. In the meantime, however, there’s no reason for the governor not to sign this bill into law.
All kids in California deserve to be educated, and an education today requires Internet access. According to the California Department of Education, juvenile court schools served more than 25,000 students during the 2015-16 school year. That’s far too many kids to leave behind. Tell Governor Brown to sign A.B. 2448 today.