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California Considers Maternity Leave For Teachers

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Barbara Adams says the state is finally taking teachers into account.

"So happy, the state has overlooked teachers in lots of different ways," she said.

She says that includes teachers who want to start a family. When she had her baby 20 years ago, she couldn't afford to take more than a few weeks off to bond with her baby.

"I didn't get any money," she said.

Two decades later, the situation is no different for her teacher friends. The only option they have is to use up all their sick time.

"They run out of sick leave, and when their baby gets sick, or they get sick, they have to take a cut in pay," she said.

So why don't teachers get paid for maternity leave? Most are state employees who don't pay into the state's disability insurance program.

But Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) calls it a loophole in the system, and she's one step closer to closing it.

"Not sure if it was an oversight originally or what, but it's amazing to me because if you look at school employees, they're overwhelmingly female," said Fletcher.

Her bill -- approved in both houses -- will provide six fully paid weeks off to teachers.

But it's a tough sell for the people paying for it: schools.

A coalition of school districts, charter schools, plus community colleges opposing the maternity measure, sent the governor a letter reading, in part, "the additional cost ... would compete with the costs of educational programs and student services within finite budgets."

Adams says it's simple; teachers are worth more than that.

"It's about time women got this opportunity," she said.

The bill is now on the governor's desk. He has until next month to sign bills passed this week.

Meanwhile, a separate maternity bill on its way to the Senate would offer job protection for new mom's working for small businesses.

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