Photo: Sydney Johnson
Teachers and administrators at an NGSS TIME training in Sonoma.

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On Jan. 10, 2020 Gov. Gavin Newsom presented his proposed budget for California for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, 2020. Departing from tradition, instead of making short remarks and turning to his finance director to provide more detail, Newsom spent nearly three hours explaining his budget. By far the most extensive remarks were about education, an indication of the high priority Newsom is placing on it.  As a public service, EdSource is providing a lightly edited transcript of Newsom’s remarks on his K-12 budget proposals below.  A detailed description can be found here.   For his remarks on early education, go here, and on higher education, go here

With the highest level of investment ever, and our K through 14  budget as you recall last year, the revised budget was $81.6 billion and this year it is $84 billion to our schools. That represents a 3.03% growth. We have seen growth in the state of California since 2011 by roughly $7,200 per pupil.

We are seeing improvements in the state’s ranking (in terms of spending compared to other states).  None of us are naive. None of us are spiking the ball.  Despite those improvements, we still haven’t moved these numbers as far as we would like.

Students making “stubborn and slow” progress 

I often read that there’s been no progress in the state of California in terms of educational outcomes and achievement. But in reading and mathematics we are making progress. It’s stubborn and it’s slow. Someone said to me the other day, “Boy, I hope you don’t bring that slide out (at the budget briefing) because all you’re going to be arguing for is failing more efficiently.” That may be one point of view. Another point of view is that we are making progress stubbornly. We can abandon our investments in those areas. Or we can double down on them. I would prefer to double down on what’s working, and abandon the investments that are not working. So we soberly look at those, but we also recognize that underneath there are disparities that are being closed, and disparities that persist.

Let me start with the good news you’re seeing for low-income students.

For Latinos and Latinas and children who enter as English learners, we are seeing some steady progress in closing achievement gaps.

Where we are not seeing progress is for African-Americans, for those with disabilities and in science scores. If you overlay socio-economics with race, the scores are deplorable in contrast to what they should be and can be. So that’s the bad news.

We have to start getting serious, and do something about it.

Preparing teachers

Here’s what we argue in our budget: We believe the biggest achievement boost is fully prepared teachers. I hired Linda Darling-Hammond as president of the State Board of Education. Linda’s an expert in this space. She has studied best practices across the United States.

We did a deep dive last year. Why is Massachusetts outperforming California? Why has New Jersey made some real progress in the last few years? For all the fanciful things, it’s not that complicated. They didn’t zig and zag. They didn’t go from one fancy proposal this year to another new proposal next year to chase headlines and have a bunch of academics applaud the new approach. The new approach was a steady focus on the basics — none more important than investing in our teachers — and that’s why this year we are addressing the teacher issue in a way we haven’t in the past.

Seventy-five percent of the districts have teacher shortages. As we all know in the STEM subject matters and in special ed, that’s where the teacher shortages are most acute. We also know that there are 23 low-performing districts in this state that have overrepresentation of African-American students, high poverty districts that are overrepresented by African-American students.

It seems self-evident that we should focus and concentrate our efforts in those areas in order to address the substantive vexing issue as it relates to academic achievement for our African-American students. And so our commitment this year is to go even deeper than we did last year. $900.1 million will be invested in workforce investment grants, professional development grants for existing teachers. $900 million will also support recruitment strategies. We are seeing real issues at the CSU as it relates to the number of people who are entering to be trained for the workforce ultimately. But that’s the feeder system. That’s where we’re conveying that talent. That’s the educational platform. We have got to focus on recruitment, getting more college graduates to consider getting credentialed, and we’ve got to focus on these specific subject matters where we’re seeing deep systemic underrepresentation.

Diverse teaching force needed 

When I say underrepresentation, I also just want to make this point. It’s incredibly important that we have a diverse teaching workforce. You look at all the academic research: not only having a stable prepared professional teacher, but also a teacher that looks like you is incredibly important as it relates to particularly African-American achievement. And that’s going to be a big part of our effort this year as well. We’re also going to invest 175 million in this teacher residency program. So while people are getting a full-year credential, we are going to allow them to get the kind of mentorship that they deserve under the tutelage of a great teacher. And we’re going to really focus those efforts on special ed and low-income communities.

We’re doing $20,000 stipends. If you teach for years and you teach in a high need school, we’re going to create an economic incentive — $20,000 stipends. That’s a $100 million commitment just in this budget year to reward those teachers for doing the right thing and address the stubborn fact that in our high-poverty schools, we have three times as many unprepared teachers.

Again, it’s not that complicated. Train your teachers and make them the best, the brightest; incentivize them, focus on underperforming high-poverty districts. That’s what we’re doing this year. $900 million plus an extra $100,000. We are also providing additional supports beyond that in terms of credentialing: some important work we’re doing with classified employees. And we can get into those details if you wish. I’m passionate about special ed. I think most of you know that because I was one of them growing up. It’s a miracle that I’m here. As someone who struggled with speech, someone who struggled academically, I had remarkable people who intervened and I’m standing at this podium with the privilege of this presentation. The special ed issue in the state of California is a crisis. You can sugarcoat it, but it should not be.

Special education in crisis 

I try not to use that word or overuse that word, but it’s a crisis and it’s a real shame. We’re better than that and we’re going to do better than we have in the past. Last year, you may recall we put $645.3 million in the budget for special ed. This year we’re putting $895 million into special ed. So building on last year, we now have a total of $895 million to focus on training and diagnosis, a focus on deep commitment. My wife talks to me about this all the time. Social-emotional learning, the deep focus on early intervention, on three- to five-year olds, not waiting until they’re five-plus years old. So it’s money to incentivize earlier screenings, some preschool grants — a significant enhancement in this year’s budget. I get into the SELPA (Special Education Local Planning Agency) issue. These are going to be tough reforms.

My eyes are wide open. But for the SELPA community we’re going to lean in. It’s a multi-year commitment. But we are advancing those reforms I hinted at in last year’s budget and budget presentation.

Local Control Funding Formula Reforms

A lot has been written about the LCFF. I’m a supporter of the LCFF. I’m not walking away from it. But I recognized what the audit recognized: that we need some more transparency, we need more accountability. I’ll remind you, we didn’t wait for the audit findings last year. We anticipated them. About half of the audit findings plus or minus, we addressed in last year’s budget as it relates to the LCAPs and the California School Dashboard, more transparency models, more technical support for the districts, etc.

But we recognize that we have more work to do this year. Here’s substantively what we want to do. We want to provide $300 million to our lowest-performing districts for these opportunity grants. $300 million that would allow, for example, extended learning, more technical assistance — not just the technical issues of transparency and how the money’s flowing, but moreover to address the purpose, the thrust of what the LCFF was all about, which was closing gaps and addressing the needs of ESL and addressing the needs of our diverse communities. These block grants will be invested powerfully in that space.

Community schools

I am someone who believes in community schools. What I mean by community schools is partnerships, public-public partnerships, not just public-private partnerships. Those are partnerships where we build capacity, existing capacity, and we leverage that. On wellness centers bringing community health into our public education system. And I’ll be talking a lot about this new proposal called lazily in bureaucratic terms “Cal Aim,” which is a big part of advancing that thrust on those kinds of public-public partnerships.

But we’re putting an additional $300 million up in the community school space, and I want to just compliment Assemblymember Chiu among many others for pushing us to do more in this space. It’s the integration of adolescent mental and physical health and continuing to build capacity. We’re also investing in 21st century skills.

Computer science 

Last year we seeded our CSforCA, our Computer Science for California program. We’re doing more this year. We’re doing $10,000 incentives for certification programs. We’re going to be distributing best practices statewide. We’re going to be building capacity with the private sector to help support our efforts. So we have a big initiative on computer science education.

School meals program 

And then because I would be remiss, perhaps the real reason my wife is here: She’s been working on the issue of student meals. These things become important to you when you have four kids and you adjudicate why they’re still having pizza and burritos and not eating healthy and well, and you read those damn headlines coming from (Secretary of Education) Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration rolling back the good work of the Obama administration, particularly Michelle Obama.

Rather than complaining about it, we’re going to do something about it. 2006, 2007 was the last time we touched this program, the old Moscone nickel. That’s for folks here that have been here too long — or maybe a long time now; no one’s been here too long. You remember what the Moscone nickel is. We’re going to increase our contribution to our school meal programs to provide more nutritious meal options and increased participation and access. The Moscone nickel is quite literally 24.45 cents. That’s our per meal supplement to the federal government’s $2.3 billion contribution. The state provides $173 million. That works out to 24.45 cents. We’re going to increase the Moscone nickel by 40%. You do the math and I’ll focus on 40% because that sounds better than just saying we’re adding a few cents to every meal. But this is a significant expansion. A $70 million investment in this meal space.

I also want to acknowledge that Jen (Siebel Newsom) is going to be leading a task force in this area. She has already de facto been co-chairing it, working with Kat Steyer and others that have been doing this specialty crop initiative. We’re putting an additional $10 million in this farm-to-school program. Again, just trying to connect our agricultural community to our school districts in a way we haven’t in the past. We’re very enthusiastic about this and I’m very grateful for Jen’s leadership on this.

School construction bond 

I’ll remind your, there’s a $9 billion opportunity. I’m not campaigning for this. I just want to remind people, we have a school bond proposal (on the March ballot) on the capital side that will provide $9 billion in this space. If it does get passed, it’s $150 million for lead abatement programs. Half a billion dollars for career tech. It’s an incredible opportunity. And it’s also an equity-based bond that focuses on the most on high-needs areas of our state and I think justifies every tax dollar. And so I just want to acknowledge representatives O’Donnell, Medina, McCarty and others, for their great leadership on that.

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