Early Learning

Early education advocates disappointed with governor's revised budget


young girl working on puzzle

A girl puts together a jumbo-sized puzzle in her half-day state preschool program in East Palo Alto at the Creative Montessori Learning Center in March. State preschool does not have enough funding for all qualified students. The governor’s proposed May budget revision won’t change that. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

Early education advocates in California were hoping for increases in preschool and child care funding in the governor’s revised budget, released Tuesday. No such luck.

“The governor talks a lot about educational equity and equality of opportunity,” said Scott Moore, policy analyst for the early education advocacy group Early Edge California. “He is really missing the boat when it comes to preschool.”

The funding change that is most likely to affect a child under 5 next year is the proposed decrease to funding for a child care program known as CalWorks 3. This program for the children of the working poor is meant to help parents keep their jobs by providing child care for young children and after-school care for children up to age 12. That program would operate on $4.4 million less next year than it is in the current year if the governor’s revised budget is adopted, according to Rachel Ehlers at the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Funding for state preschool, a program for children from families making under 200 percent of the poverty level – $47,100 a year for a family of four – stayed nearly flat under the governor’s proposal. So too did funding for general subsidized child care. Instead of the small, almost negligible, decreases contained in the governor’s January budget proposal, the May revision contains small, almost negligible increases. The changes are the result of a new estimate of the number of children under age 5 who are expected to live in the state in the next fiscal year.

Ehlers warned there may be more to come. Cuts to child care and preschool due to federal sequestration do not appear to be reflected in the May revision, she said.

“Sequestration will result in additional reductions to some child care program” or programs, Ehlers said. The question, she said, is how and where the cut will be applied across the state’s several child care and education programs.

Governor Jerry Brown did not mention early childhood education in his remarks Tuesday about the release of the revised budget, choosing instead to focus on his Local Control Funding Formula for K-12 education. The formula is meant to provide additional funding to schools with a significant number of students living in poverty, learning English and participating in foster care. That priority is on target, said Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Education.

“But if we’re not doing more to help them come to school ready to learn, we’re not maximizing the impact of what we’re doing to help them in K-12,” said Buchanan, D-Alamo.

The one bright spot in the early care and education funding landscape is a complicated bit of budgeting that means that First 5 California will hold on to $25 million of its own money rather than turning it over to the Department of Developmental Services. First 5, a state commission supported by a voter-approved cigarette tax, funds programs across the state focused on improving health and education for children under age 5. The commission has previously complied with many requests to turn over portions of its protected funding stream to the state departments facing cuts.

This spring, the Department of Developmental Services asked First 5 for $40 million to cover costs for a program for infants and 1-year-olds. First 5 agreed to give the department $15 million of its nearly $90 million budget. The May revision provides for the $25 million to go to the Department of Developmental Services directly from the state in lieu of coming from First 5 as previously requested.

“We’re obviously happy to help our partners and anything that’s going to improve the health of children,” age 5 and younger, said Lindsay VanLaningham, spokesperson for First 5 California. “But now, we get to continue funding our programs and priorities here.”

Filed under: Early Learning, Early Learning Policy, Policy & Finance, State Education Policy

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9 Responses to “Early education advocates disappointed with governor's revised budget”

  1. el said

    on May 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Does that mean that we’re expecting to have the preschool fees be the same for next year as they were for this year?

  2. Lillian Mongeau said

    on May 14, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Half day state preschool fees were not mentioned in the Budget Summary issued today. As far as I know, language rescinding those fees has been added to the trailer bill, which comes from the legislature. It looks like we won’t know if that language makes the cut until the final budget is voted on.

    • el replied

      on May 14, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks for staying on this. It’s really important. Even giving our district the option of waiving the fees would be positive.

  3. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on May 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I think every leader plays from their strengths… and Brown’s are not about nurture. The new plan for Adult Ed does not include Older Adults or Parent Ed. I think nurturing others – be they young children or aging parents or aunts and uncles – is not in his experience… maybe not even a big part of his life as an uncle or friend. I think we need to look to new leaders… in the community, the Legislature, and future governors, who understand the necessity of caring for ourselves as a group… and part of that care is caring for our young and our old. These leaders don’t have to be women but they are more likely to be. Our culture is changing… and I’m hopeful that it’s changing for the good. It certainly will be if enough of us speak up about what we know to be true… and what so many, many of us know is… we MUST have nurtured children. If we don’t, there won’t be enough K-12, Adult Ed, Community College, State University, University of California – or prisons – to deal with the consequences. Brown said something today about there being big needs… and there being reasons for those needs. Many of us know that unnurtured children create large and frightening needs in a culture. I think presenting proof of that, in a factual way, is an effective way to enlighten Brown and others like him. Brown responds well to facts… that are heart-centered in purpose. I know it isn’t popular to use words like that but luckily I don’t work in policy so I can. Lol. Can you tell I used to run a Parent Ed program called “Play as Learning”? We need the LAO to do a study on Early Childhood Ed. We need gather facts from places like the Louise Packard Foundation. It’s all work. And we all know that the folks who are interested in making money off suffering seem to enjoy hard work in a horrifically phenomenal way. But we have goodness on our side. I know. It’s another one those things that sounds like a “fairy tale” – good for just an ECE storytime moment, eh? But goodness is real. That’s why people respond to it. It changes things. In a good way. And there is no easier way to find proof of that than to look into a child’s heart. Thanks for this informative article. It’s so great to have these Edsource articles almost as quick as the news breaks. Very helpful! Thank you!

  4. Paul said

    on May 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Cynthia, I really appreciate your point about nurture, both as it applies to young children and as it applies to adult learners who have fallen through cracks in the conventional educational system. (I had a very rewarding experience teaching at my local Adult School and am devastated by the erosion of that service.)

    I don’t think Brown suffers from a lack of nurturing values. California’s voters and taxpayers do — so long as other people, not they themselves or their own children, are at risk. I think Brown is trying to respond to a fundamental and long-standing underfunding problem (California was near the bottom nationally in so many education funding metrics, even before the last recession) by prioritizing resources. Unlike any other recent governor, Brown realizes that California’s finances really could collapse, and that unanticipated, one-time revenue cannot be used to sustain ongoing programs.

    I hope that the electorate will one day support universal, free preschool. In the meantime, my response to prospective parents is that preschool is a known, early expense, and that they should not have children until they can afford to care for them. On the Adult School front, if local control funding passes and/or the community college shift occurs, I will only support school board and community college board candidates who have plans to use the new flexibility afforded to them and restore adult education. I rather like the prospect of holding local people, instead of distant Sacramento politicians, accountable.

    • navigio replied

      on May 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Fwiw, state level control came about because local level did not work.
      I would also disagree that preschool must be an expectation for new parents. From a policy perspective, it’s a necessary to have available, but ‘locally’–ie on an individual family basis–it can easily be ‘outdone’ by vigilant parents, perhaps even irrespective of their financial resources.
      In fact, I would go so far as to point out that subsidized preschool is an economic tool intended to increase the size of the work force, and sometimes at the expense of a stable family environment. That can have equally devastating consequences.

  5. Paul said

    on May 15, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Hi, Navigio.

    I absolutely agree about preschool. I should have said “free, universally available”. A committed parent or parents (not to presuppose any particular family structure) can definitely create a home atmosphere that is as educationally stimulating as a preschool.

    I would go so far as to support laws and programs allowing fathers and mothers to reduce their work hours or to take long-term leaves, with a guaranteed right of return, to care for preschool-age children at home. (As with my comment about status quo preschool financing, I would not support government or employer wage replacement or benefit continuation subsidies, because having a child is a discretionary action and should be a planned one. Parents could save up, and reimburse their employers for health insurance premiums, etc. during leave.)

  6. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on May 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Paul, I like the idea of holding everyone accountable.

    I do still think all leaders have both strengths and weaknesses. Brown understands limits. I think he’s drawn to spiritual traditions that had wisdom in this area and I think he’s trying to pass on and work from wisdom in this area.

    I don’t think he really gets the challenge and necessity of nurturing the young and the old. That’s my feeling… but I don’t think he “gets” it or he would at least acknowledge somewhere in his Revise that these areas are no longer covered (in Adult Ed, I’m referring to here… because Parent Ed and Older Adults are not part of the new AE plan)… but they are important… and they will be covered in such and such a way… or… by putting that back on the public and saying… we know this is important… we’ll cover it in such and such a way until such and such a time and meantime, send us your input for longterm changes, new ideas, etc.

    Navigio, I agree that universal preschool can be much about increasing the size of the workforce.

    As a single mom, I also know that paying for preschool is a big deal and that universal preschool could be a wonderful thing for our whole culture.

    i think it would very helpful if we had more and more conversations about what we value… conversations that lead to really reflecting on what is important to us… that take us out of reactivity and put us into the reflection necessary to create a system that really serves our needs.

    Brown can be a good helper to that in that he understands that economic crises can often be avoided… but it takes courage, smarts and prudence to do so. he’s the man for that job. that’s one of the messages he’s here to deliver.

    we all have our messages… this is what i’m getting at when i talk about the strengths and weakness of a leader… or anyone.

    we all have a unique set of talents, lived experience, and emotional hunger that pushes us into pursuing, creating, sharing something of real importance to the group.

    i was lucky… because of my job (i could work evenings) and because of family and friends (my cousin, a housemate) and because of the co-op preschool system in SF… and for whole lot of other reasons… i was able to provide my child with prechool and much time with myself and people who love her to this day.

    My mom was a teacher and my parents divorced when i was very young. It took my mom a while to find a good preschool for me. At last she did. But i have vague memories that are not good. I’m older and most people my age grew up with stay at home moms. I think it’s significant that many adult children of divorce and daycare and latchkey and etc, like me, choose to do whatever they can NOT to have their children grow up this way.

    That’s a piece i feel is missing from the larger discussion, also…

    which is what Navigio is getting at, I think… preschool is not just about housing children while parents work… childhood is about more than preschool, too.

    It’s tough, isn’t it? Where does the responsibility really lie for a healthy culture? One where children, old people and everyone in between is cared for?

    I think lies deep in the consciousness, somehow… of both the individual and the group… Some cultures value nurture so deeply… so thoroughly… that this value pervades all their choices… It pervades how they choose to care for children, what they spend money and time on… on both the family and state level, etc.

    How do we shift that consciousness? That’s the question I’m interested in…

    thanks to all for sharing from your own wisdom.

  7. Cynthia Eagleton said

    on May 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I mean to add that momsrising.org might be a place where folks can go to build community strength and activism where early chldhood care, resources, preschool, etc. are concerned.

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