EdSource asked education leaders, advocates and observers to comment on Gov. Newsom’s record-level, revised 2021-22 budget for K-12 education. We wanted to know what they thought would most advance students’ recovery from the impact of the pandemic and what they felt was missing.

Scroll down and click on the photos to read their thought-provoking responses on the governor’s plans. And also see reactions to the governor’s early education and higher education budget plans.

Debi Bober

Teacher, Cubberley K-8 School, Long Beach

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

As a 26-year teacher, I am thrilled to see the governor’s May budget making per-pupil funding history. The governor’s equity-focused proposals target the desperate needs of our highest-priority students: students from low-income families, English learners, students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care. This focus on equity includes scaling tiered school support systems and school-based health. The governor’s investments in expanded learning and summer enrichment have significant potential to advance students’ recovery by providing essential in-person connections our students have gone without. Our students deserve the governor’s immediate attention. These proposals demonstrate his investment in student recovery now.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

California’s investments in our students’ well-being should also explicitly target students’ physical fitness. Our K-12 students have spent over a year sitting in front of a computer screen, while school athletic programs came to a halt. Physical fitness was quarantined with the kids, which took a toll on students’ physical well-being. Health and fitness is critical in recovery from the pandemic and must go hand-in-hand with mental wellness and academics. The state budget needs to prioritize physical fitness in its equity proposals by providing funds to school exercise programs and facilities.

Debi Bober is a National Board Certified fifth grade teacher at Cubberley K-8 in Long Beach and a 2020-2021 Teach Plus California Policy Fellow.

Jeannine Topalian, Psy.D, LEP

California Association of School Psychologists

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s proposals to fund additional mental health supports will most advance students’ pandemic recovery. Student mental health has been overlooked for far too long. Students need mental health support more now than ever, and schools are the place they are most likely to have that need met. Many parents and educators are rightly concerned about learning loss – but we cannot expect students to focus on learning when they are struggling with anxiety about going back to school, depression from losing a loved one to the pandemic or the host of other challenges they have faced over the last year.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The budget is missing a long-term, sustainable approach to capacity building for mental health services within the school system. Much of the budget focuses on partnerships, which are helpful – but outsourcing comes with challenges. Credentialed mental health professionals employed directly by and working exclusively in schools are the foundation for successful students – and schools need ongoing funding to hire more of them. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel with new partnerships and programs, we need to recognize that the existing wheel works – it’s just terribly underfunded.

Jeannine Topalian is president of the California Association of School Psychologists, a professional association representing California’s 6,500+ credentialed school psychologists.

Patricia Gándara

UCLA Civil Rights Project

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

At K-12, the students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, need more time to catch up – longer year, longer week, summer school – but there needs to be a plan now for how to create this. One good idea is to cut back severely on testing to gain back those days of testing and test prep. There needs to be an emphasis on project-based and group learning so that the time does not become tedious and socialization and mental health-oriented activities can be folded in. I am very excited about the community school funding

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

More direct focus on recruiting, supporting and preparing bilingual educators (including pupil personnel). Forty percent of our kids start school with another primary language. This is a huge resource, but we turn it into a problem without sufficient numbers of well-qualified bilingual teachers to staff bilingual programs. Some funds are available for this, but there is no focus on it.

Patricia Gándara is co-director of Civil Rights Project at UCLA, which focuses on racial equity research and policy.

L. K. Monroe

President of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), Alameda County Superintendent of Schools

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s budget increases for public education, coupled with one-time funding for school reopening in the current year, provide a unique opportunity for expanded wraparound services, including mental health, and critical support to districts and schools as our students return to classrooms. We must remain squarely focused on providing support for the children who have suffered the most from being disconnected from the safeguards and face-to-face instruction that our schools provide. With expanded vaccinations, more adequate short-term school funding and broader reopening of classrooms across our state, I look forward to returning better and stronger knowing that California’s more than 6 million students are counting on us.

L.K. Monroe is the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools and CCSESA President. 

Karn Saetang

Californians for Justice

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

We’re excited to see the grassroots organizing efforts of our youth and allies to transform schools reflected in the: 1) $3 billion investment in the California Community Schools Partnership Program, and 2) explicit naming of “deeper connections and relationships between students and adults on campus … including more school counselors, social workers, and nurses.” This $3 billion investment in Community Schools and emphasis throughout the May Revise on mental health, relationships, racial equity in teaching and instruction, and improving staff to student ratios will accelerate students’ long-term vision to re-imagine and rebuild schools that address the unique needs of each community.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Adequate funding is only the start. We can’t “roar back” and commit to deeper connections and relationships without committing to: 1) a specific focus on high schools, which present unique challenges and opportunities for transformation, and 2) strong student and family engagement and accountability. Students of color need to be at the forefront of transforming education. We must center the voices of Black students and families in particular in every part of school, from instruction and assessment to wellness and school culture. Only then can we address race, gender, and class and disrupt inequity in our institutions, practices, and investments.

Karn Saetang is alliance and policy director at Californians for Justice, a statewide youth-powered organization fighting for racial justice.

Tim Taylor

Small School Districts Association

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Mental health and social-emotional learning dollars that were allocated will have the most impact. Districts will be able to create tiered systems of support for students and staff to help students recover from the pandemic. The governor’s commitment to expanded learning, career technical education and the arts will help complement mental health staffing and programs. This will be a major challenge for small rural communities who lack qualified staff. They will have to get creative to provide these services.

Last May we were facing the largest school budget reduction in history, and now we are fortunate to have the largest increase in history. School leadership will be tested to maximize the funding increases to bring back their students in a safe and healthy environment.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The governor’s staff must look at the per pupil allocation of federal and state dollars and provide equity to LEAs receiving only hundreds of dollars per student. How is it that schools in our state’s poorest county, Trinity County, have schools receiving no direct federal CARES funding?  Gov. Newsom has billions in discretionary funding, and every LEA should be receiving a minimum of $250,000 to pay for the costs of the pandemic. The majority of rural schools were open all year and are using their reserves to pay for Covid costs.

The state leadership needs to focus on the schools that are not getting the necessary funding to provide support services for their students. The small rural communities are going to have another tough year with the upcoming wildfire season on top of dealing with the pandemic. So give them the necessary funding to support their teachers and students.

Tim Taylor is the executive director of the Small School Districts Association, representing 538 school districts.

Jennifer Peck

Partnership for Children and Youth

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The large additional investment in after-school and summer (expanded learning) programs is long overdue and necessary, not just for recovery but to address long-standing opportunity gaps that perpetuate deep inequities in our system. The commitment to growing and supporting these programs over time is exciting news for so many families and students who have not had access in the past. In addition, expanded learning programs are a foundational part of effective community schools, and there’s great potential for leveraging increased investments in these complementary strategies.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The governor’s proposal does not adequately stabilize our existing expanded learning system, which for years has been in a financially precarious position due to dangerously low daily per-pupil rates and rising costs due to minimum wage and other factors. These programs have been a lifeline for kids and families during the pandemic, operating in-person hubs across the state and connecting with students most at risk of disengagement – and now must expand to meet a growing need. There are more than enough resources to increase slots and fully fund cost-of-living increases for both the After School Education and Safety (ASES) and 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, which together serve nearly a million high-need students. In addition, the proposal does not address expansion for middle and high school students who have great needs for expanded learning opportunities.

Jennifer Peck is CEO of the Partnership for Children and Youth, a California advocacy and capacity-building organization dedicated to ensuring all children have access to quality expanded learning opportunities.

Sara Noguchi

California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Suburban schools are looking to the future and re-envisioning the education system to build more equitable learning environments. Following an unprecedented year of distance and hybrid learning, suburban school district leaders and education systems are planning programs for summer learning and school year 2021-22 that will address learning loss and support the mental health needs of our students, as well as their successful reintegration into the in-person learning environment. The investments proposed by Gov. Newsom will give schools much-needed resources to accelerate learning and support students’ social and emotional health.

Sara Noguchi is the superintendent of Modesto City Schools. Modesto is a lead district of the California Association of Suburban School Districts (CalSSD).

 

Lance Izumi

Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Given that only 16% of California public school students are receiving full-time in-person instruction, the governor’s proposal to increase funding for expanding broadband access may make remote learning more effective and equitable, since almost half of Californians do not have the broadband required for video conferencing. However, this digital divide has been well known for years, so it is therefore disturbing that the governor did not push harder to reopen schools sooner, especially given the scientific evidence supporting safe reopening of schools and the huge learning losses sustained by students as they have struggled with schools’ inadequate distance-learning efforts.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The governor touts his proposed college savings accounts for vulnerable students. Yet, public schools aren’t preparing these students for college, with 73% of low-income students not meeting grade-level math standards in 2018-19. Rather than creating a college savings account aimed at the back end of K-12 education, the governor should have proposed an education savings account (ESA) at the front end, where parents could access funds to pay for private-school tuition, tutoring and other achievement-improving expenses. States like Arizona and Florida have such accounts. Recent research shows that ESAs would deliver significant economic benefits to students such as higher lifetime earnings.

Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free-market public policy organization.

Tony Thurmond

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

It’s the highest level of funding ever for K–12 schools — an increase of $8.2 billion over the Governor’s proposed budget in January—and I believe that unprecedented investments in class-size reduction; teacher preparation, learning acceleration, and tutoring; universal meals, summer school and after-school programs; universal transitional kindergarten; and wraparound mental health, social, and family services will be critical to put students and families back on track as California continues to make its way out of the pandemic.

Tony Thurmond is California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jessica Maxwell

National Center for Youth Law

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s May budget revision includes many highlights that will have a great impact on helping school communities recover from the pandemic. I am most excited about the $30 million of Prop 98 funds included to provide direct educational interventions for students in foster care. This funding will help to address the long-standing opportunity gap between students in foster care and their non-foster care peers, by providing equitable access to interventions with a proven track record for outcomes. Additionally, I am inspired by the increased investment in the children and youth behavioral health initiative, which will bring more opportunities to school campuses for supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, which is a critical part of recovery from this unprecedented pandemic

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

I was most disappointed in the lack of virtual learning options for the upcoming school year, (as) communities of color and families with essential workers were some of the hardest hit and may not be readily able to reintegrate into full-time, in-person learning. While full details about the independent study options are not yet available, I hope (they) will include some needed innovations and accountability measures to ensure equitable access to learning.

Jessica Maxwell is the deputy director, compassionate education systems at the National Center for Youth Law. Her work is focused on advancing equity for system-impacted scholars in California.

Martha Hernandez

Californians Together

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

While we applaud the governor’s overall equity-focused proposals, we truly appreciate the investments that will transform how we educate California’s 1.1 million English learners. Particularly, we think the $3.3 billion proposed investment in teacher pipeline programs has the potential to recruit sorely needed bilingual teachers. Moreover, we hope that the final proposal includes a priority for bilingual teachers and ties recruitment efforts to high school graduates who receive the California State Seal of Biliteracy. These graduates speak are proficient in over 40 different languages and could close the shortage in a few short years.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

We hope the final budget includes a continuation of $5 million for the Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Program (BTPDP), an approach that has already proven to be an effective investment with 353 teachers receiving their bilingual credential and 392 teachers ready to teach in bilingual classrooms. Programs such as the BTPDP are critical to grow the pipeline and professional learning for bilingual teachers.
We await changes to the Independent Study program to respond to parent requests for their children to remain in distance learning. The details need to set minimal standards with specifics on at least 60% time of synchronous instruction and the inclusion of English language development for English learners.

Martha Hernandez is the executive director of Californians Together, a coalition of advocacy organizations focused on promoting equitable educational policy and practice for English learners.

E. Toby Boyd

California Teachers Association (CTA)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s proposal to invest in academic programs as well as mental health and social and family supports, including the prioritization of establishing community schools for this coming year and beyond will be instrumental. We appreciate the investments in teacher training, efforts to support educators in high-needs schools, and resources to reduce staffing ratios and hire additional teachers, nurses and counselors. Viruses like Covid and other ailments don’t pick the school or campus that is staffed with nurses or counselors. We need trained professionals in each and every school site to address the needs of students in real time.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

As classroom experts, we do recognize that some of these investments are one-time dollars, and that is challenging for ongoing program supports. We look forward to reviewing these proposals and engaging with lawmakers before a final budget is adopted in mid-June.

E. Toby Boyd is a kindergarten teacher and president of the California Teachers Association, which represents more than 310,000 educators, and their students, throughout California.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-District 7

Assembly District 7

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

$3.5 billion for youth behavioral health grants to ensure our students’ mental health needs are addressed as we transition back to in-person learning. It is also important to highlight $1 billion for slot and rate increases for before school, after school, and summer programs to address the learning gap.

Kevin McCarty, Assemblymember, District 7

Dr. Amy Cranston

SEL4CA - Social Emotional Learning Alliance

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Support for students’ social-emotional well-being and mental health needs and services.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

More explicit emphasis and funding for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for students, and SEL training for educator professional development and teacher prep & credentialing.

Amy Cranston is the executive director of SEL4CA, the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Alliance for California, an SEL awareness and advocacy non-profit organization.

Samantha Tran

Children Now

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s approach is right on track. We’re excited to see a set of strategies that lead with equity and focus on the comprehensive needs of children by expanding learning opportunities, strengthening connections to health, mental health and social services, and investing in the recruitment and training of educators. The proposal recognizes the need to significantly increase the number of adults who are effectively trained to meet the academic, social, emotional, physical and mental health needs of students. These investments are especially critical given California currently ranks at the bottom of the country in terms of these staffing ratios.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Money is essential, but it isn’t enough: These investments must comprehensively knit together in both policy and practice to have their intended impact. A significant portion of the proposed funding is one-time in nature, so education leaders may hesitate to build the infrastructure and hire the staff necessary to achieve the vision. The proposal also eliminates Proposition 98 supplemental payments which are needed beyond 2022-23 and the local reserve cap will force leaders to spend heavily now, rather than plan and stage implementation to maximize effectiveness. Addressing these issues would support increased staffing commitments and build a more solid foundation for the future.

Samantha Tran, is senior managing director of education policy at Children Now, a whole-child research and advocacy organization that also coordinates the Children’s Movement of California.

Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, R-District 6

California State Assembly

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Unfortunately, the governor proposed $20 billion in new spending to “re-imagine public education” but failed to include any of the reforms needed to improve our ranking as one of the worst states in the country to get an education. He also continued to perpetuate the false narrative that our schools are still not safe and openly supports California’s ongoing assault on charter schools. If Newsom truly wanted to re-imagine our education system, he would empower parents and expand school choice, rather than invest more money in the same broken system.

Kevin Kiley is a California legislator serving the Sixth Assembly District.

Jonathan Kaplan

California Budget and Policy Center

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The proposal for $1.1 billion to increase the LCFF concentration grant from 50% to 65% of the base grant would be a major boost in funding for school districts and charter schools with large shares of students from low-income families, English learners and foster youth. Most of the governor’s May Revision funding proposals are one-time, which creates challenges for school leaders as they try to advance students’ recovery from the pandemic. Boosting the LCFF concentration grant by nearly one-third would provide these dollars annually and give districts the flexibility to hire school staff, which will be critical not only for addressing the effects of the pandemic but also the systemic educational disparities for California’s students.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The May Revision proposes more tax breaks for corporations, in addition to maintaining those from the January budget, that would reduce state revenue and funding available for K-14 education. While it is appropriate to help businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic, some of these tax breaks are poorly targeted and would benefit many large corporations that have seen their profits soar during the pandemic. Policymakers should prioritize funding for students, schools and community colleges over corporations by eliminating these tax breaks or increasing tax rates for large corporations, many of which are paying far less of their profits than a generation ago.

Jonathan Kaplan is a senior policy analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center, which seeks to inform state budget and policy debates by publishing timely analyses and commentary, fostering civic engagement and providing public education as well as customized technical assistance.

John Gray

School Services of California

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Setting in-person learning as the default for next school year with the option for students to access a virtual learning program will go a long way in helping the state’s students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The state and the feds have already put a lot of money into programs that are helping districts up and down California design and implement academic and enrichment programs that will accelerate their learning, and the May Revision further builds on the investments to offer multi-year sustainability. This is important because we know that meaningful learning gains occur over time.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

While the governor is proposing an additional 1% increase in the LCFF above the statutory COLA and the 2020-21 suspended COLA, school districts are facing a fiscal brick wall in the coming few years when funding protections from declining enrollment go away and pension obligations are set to spike. The lack of an investment to further buy down employer pension rates is a missed opportunity to lessen the impact of hitting the fiscal wall.

John Gray is president and CEO of School Services of California, a business, financial, management, and advocacy resource for educational agencies in California.

John Affeldt

Public Advocates

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

This is an historic investment in public schools and equity for our high-need students. We and our grassroots partners urged the Administration to make an ambitious $5 billion multi-year investment in racially just community schools and a diverse and prepared, culturally responsive and inclusive workforce. We were delighted to see the governor meet and exceed that with an even higher, combined, $6.3 billion proposal. We also applaud the impressive proposal for an ongoing $1.1 billion investment in staffing increases in districts with concentrations of low-income students, English learners and foster youth and eventually another $5 billion ongoing in rich after-school and summer school programs. These, together with many of the other K-12 proposals from the Administration for wraparound services, $4 billion in social-emotional and mental health supports, universal transitional kindergarten for 4-year-olds, and college accounts hold great promise to rebuild and re-imagine our public schools. With these investments effectively implemented, California can begin the journey toward truly creating the racially just, relationship-centered community schools our neediest students and students of color are calling for.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

It’s time to make annual climate surveys of students, parents and staff an ongoing priority for the state. We and our partners wanted to see school climate surveys supported with at least a $100 million overall investment. Instead, the Administration maintained its January budget proposal of $10 million for exploring greater use of climate surveys. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for greater awareness of the social-emotional well-being of students and staff and the need for greater connectedness with our parent and caregiver communities. It seems that every day new research emerges to reinforce the notion that schools need to support the whole child and address the trauma that racism and poverty and other ills inflict to clear a pathway for student success. A positive school climate and feelings of belonging and connectedness are foundational to closing academic achievement gaps. The Administration’s support for expanding professional development to support climate improvement with educator effectiveness grants is meaningful, but we actually should be measuring what we value—that means a significant build-out and ongoing administration of climate surveys across the stakeholder community annually.

John Affeldt is a managing attorney and the education equity director at Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination.

Joel Vargas

Jobs for the Future

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Investment in high-quality expanded learning time and enrichment for students from low-income communities can be a game changer. Learning doesn’t just happen during the school day, and what is “enriched” or “extra” learning for students from more affluent backgrounds is essential for students who currently have less access.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Just as work-based learning is integral to the higher education experience – and the governor’s proposal makes investments in such at that level – it can have a positive impact on high school students with the right resources and partnerships with employers. The K-12 investments could have placed more emphasis on partnerships overall, more like the higher ed proposals.

Joel Vargas is vice president of programs at the Oakland office of Jobs For the Future, a national nonprofit organization that drives economic advancement for all.

Eric Premack

Charter Schools Development Center

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The emphasis on returning to in-person instruction, which should have been phased-in starting a year ago, to avoid the huge service and learning gaps associated with poorly implemented distance learning.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Restore the base first before proposing new programs. Restore growth funding for the many charter schools that were required to serve additional students in the current school year but received no corresponding growth funding to serve them. Restore the 2020-21 cost-of-living adjustments. Backfill all deferrals.

Eric Premack is the executive director of the Charter Schools Development Center, a leadership training and advocacy organization based in Sacramento.

Sarah Lillis

Teach Plus California

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Governor Newsom’s May revision has sent a powerful message by investing more in our students and schools than ever before. More importantly, the governor’s aggressive investments in educational equity have the potential to not only advance students’ recovery but to be truly transformational. The May revision reinforces the importance of prioritizing our students’ social and emotional well-being, focusing on relationships, racial equity and addressing students’ individualized learning and mental health needs. We also support the governor’s significant investment in the teacher pipeline and building a diverse, well-supported teaching force as a way to achieve equitable education for all students.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

While excited at the promise of the governor’s historic budget, we need to ensure these investments have the intended impact in closing structural opportunity gaps. The final budget should also include clear guidance for how LEAs will engage with stakeholders – educators, students, families – to determine how to invest these new funds in a way that meets the needs of their local communities and is integrated with other planning processes, including the federal stimulus. Moreover, the state should institute with urgency statewide fiscal oversight aligned with the LCAP portal to ensure that the resources targeted at highest-need students benefit them.

Sarah Lillis is executive director of Teach Plus California, a nonprofit organization that trains and empowers teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues.

Jan Gustafson-Corea

California Association for Bilingual Education

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The clear investment by the governor to dedicate $1 billion to expand after-school and summer programs for districts that serve a high concentration of vulnerable students will do much to ensure that ELs and biliteracy students are able to accelerate their learning during the summer and the traditional school year.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Bilingual teacher professional development – we need teachers to have the support to either complete or progress in their bilingual teaching PD. If we don’t invest in global, multilingual programs and teacher professional development, we will maintain as a monolingual and limiting school system missing the opportunities to build on our students and families’ rich language and cultural experiences. We need targeted support for dual language programs that are enriching and show the highest level of student academic outcomes.

Jan Gustafson-Corea is the chief executive officer of the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), an educational nonprofit organization committed to the vision of biliteracy, multicultural competency and educational equity for all.

Dr. Loretta Whitson

California Association of School Counselors

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

With his May Revision, the governor has placed a shining light on something school counselors have known for a long time: Increasing the number of caring, compassionate and qualified staff on school campuses is absolutely essential in helping our students academically, emotionally and socially. This has been true for decades, and at no time has it been more imperative than now, as we come out of the devastating isolation and anxiety of the pandemic. We are thankful that the governor has acknowledged the crucial role that certificated staff, including school counselors, school psychologists and school social workers, have in supporting our students and building a healthy school community.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

School counselors in California are beyond pleased with Governor Newsom and his commitment to Pre-K-12th grade public education. While we await the details of some of his most significant behavioral health proposals, the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) stands ready to ensure partnerships are built and supported not only between schools and community partners, but that services are coordinated and existing resources within the districts are identified and maximized. We look forward to working with the governor to ensure California is, indeed, reaching all kids equitably!

Loretta Whitson is executive director of the California Association of School Counselors, a nonprofit advocacy and membership association representing over 11,000 school counselors working in California’s Pre-K-12 grade schools.

Tony Wold

West Contra Costa Unified

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The focus on interventions that will continue the Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) grant into upcoming years has tremendous promise.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

With the amount of one-time funding the Governor should have bought down STRS/PERS pension costs and the unemployment expense. Secondly, with the large due to for education, it would have been the right time to create a new LCFF target that puts the state in the top 10% of the nation and go back to filling the gap. This would have benefited all students in all districts.

Tony Wold is the associate superintendent, business services — chief business official, West Contra Costa Unified.

Heather J. Hough

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The investments in the May Revision are comprehensive, ambitious and have the potential to completely transform education in California. Early education for all 4-year-olds will help to create a level playing field for all learners and to close achievement gaps, which are present even before students enter kindergarten. The expansion of community schools will transform the relationship between schools and communities; connect educators, students and parents; strengthen educational practices; and increase the number of counselors, nurses and other student support providers. And investing in teacher training and development will boost the supply of teachers, increase teacher diversity and improve teacher knowledge and practice.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

While this infusion of funding is much needed, districts will need meaningful guidance and support to absorb it effectively. The state must provide support, technical assistance and coaching to ensure high-quality implementation in every district. Clear structures for accountability, monitoring and oversight, including the development of data systems that promote fiscal transparency and support continuous improvement are also needed. Finally, to sustain the impact of these investments into the future, policy leaders need to work now to improve and stabilize ongoing funding for schools and address budget pressures, such as escalating pension costs and declining enrollment.

Heather J. Hough is the executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), which is committed to improving education policy and practice and advancing equity through evidence.

Celia Jaffe

California State PTA

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

This budget’s substantial investments in the educational needs of California’s children are impressive.  California State PTA is pleased to see funding for expanded learning, community schools, health necessities and expansion of broadband access which provide crucial resources to address particular needs.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The proposal is missing the continuation of quality distance learning for students who need it.  Independent study does not fill the same purpose and was not designed for the same instructional needs. We implore the governor and Legislature to provide quality distance learning opportunities for students who are not returning to in-person instruction. Our families need quality education options as we continue to navigate the health and safety concerns of this pandemic.

Celia Jaffe is the president of California State PTA, a child advocacy organization with hundreds of thousands of members throughout the state.

Edgar S. Zazueta

Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

It is hard to dispute that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on California’s most vulnerable students. One of the laudable efforts to combat this reality is the governor’s expanded learning time proposal that seeks to increase instructional and enrichment opportunities at no-cost to families while prioritizing schools with the highest concentration of students with unique needs. A fundamental pillar of equity in this state has been the notion that we should provide more support to the students who have increased needs, and this proposal makes strides in moving towards that objective.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

While the governor proposes a number of ambitious proposals, there is continued concern regarding the long-term fiscal health of our schools. One notable omission was the lack of support for increasing CalSTRS and CalPERS pension contributions. Specific support for employer contributions would make discretionary funding available that can be used to sustain programs that are critical to students. Every dollar used to help mitigate increasing employer costs can translate into another dollar that can be utilized in the classroom.

Edgar Zazueta is senior director, policy and governmental relations, for the Association of California School Administrators.

Dr. Anya Hurwitz

SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

There is a clear focus on equity throughout this proposal, which is essential to ensuring that California’s recovery from the pandemic has the most positive impacts possible. This proposal attempts to address many aspects of our educational ecosystem, from teacher preparation to in-service training, from facilities to targeted resources aimed at our most vulnerable children. We will need such a focus over many years if we are to systemically address the preexisting problems that have been intensified exponentially by this pandemic.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

Ensuring that our educational systems build from a strength-based, asset-based framework is critical to educational equity. For a state with such rich cultural and linguistic diversity, this means explicit investment in dual language programs, including programs that ensure we have teachers adequately trained to teach in these programs. The bilingual teacher preparation program is one such program that has proven to be successful and should be a continued priority for our state.

Anya Hurwitz is the executive director of SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language), an educational nonprofit focused on early learning and elementary education whose mission is that all dual language learners and English learners in California learn, thrive and lead.

Nadya Chinoy Dabby

Pivot Learning

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The May revise includes various important investments, including $2.6 billion for research-tested interventions for students. As I know from overseeing 2009 federal stimulus funds, scaling effective practices is challenging: Achieving scale is hard, and maintaining the impact of practices that were effective somewhere else is not automatic. Given the pandemic’s impact on student learning and our education system’s poor track record of improving outcomes for Latino/a/x, Black, low-income students and English Learners, it is critical that these funds be spent on effective interventions that successfully meet the needs of historically underserved students. That is why creating an incentive or a requirement—including dedicated funds and a mechanism for ensuring high-quality research—in the final budget to measure the impact of these interventions is essential. Such research would also enable LEAs to understand why those results occur, providing valuable information to future state-wide efforts and helping us all improve student outcomes.

Nadya Chinoy Dabby is the chief growth officer of Pivot Learning, an Oakland-based education nonprofit that works with educators to ensure academic rigor for all students.

Lance Christensen

California Policy Center

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The last year has been a loss for most of the 6 million kids in K-12 education who subsisted on Zoom classes and learning that was distant from any serious expectations. While the governor promises that kids will be back to school full-time in the fall, many of the state’s unions are demanding more resources without the guarantee of complying, never mind that $93.7 billion in Proposition 98 funding is the highest it’s ever been. What are parents to do when charter school funding is frozen, forestalling educational options?

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

One wonders why charter school funding wasn’t increased and more of the billions of dollars in unexpected funds won’t be used to address CalSTRS’ growing unfunded obligations on school districts and teachers.

Lance Christensen is the chief operations officer at the California Policy Center, an educational nonprofit working to remove public-sector barriers to freedom.

Jeff Freitas

California Federation of Teachers

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The record K-12 spending proposed by Gov. Newsom represents a bold step forward for our public schools and will be critical to ensure that our students have an opportunity to thrive as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. We applaud Gov. Newsom for providing record funding for our K-12 schools, and for focusing on issues that educators and classified professionals have supported for years – including a $3 billion investment in community schools, $4 billion to focus on the behavioral health of our students and programs to address tutoring, after-school, summer school, housing and broadband access.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

There are students who actually thrived in distance learning environments, and many students who will not be ready to return to in-person instruction in the fall. We must meet students where they are and should continue to provide targeted distance learning, especially in the face of future emergencies. With classroom and school cleanliness a continued priority, we should also invest in expanding our custodial workforce.

Jeff Freitas is the president of the California Federation of Teachers, a union of educators and classified professionals.

Tatia Davenport

California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO)

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The most significant actions that meet our students’ educational and social-emotional needs as they continue to transition to in-person instruction are stable, predictable and ongoing funding as proposed through the increased compounded cost of living adjustment to the Local Control Funding Formula, resources for health and safety, and support for both special education and child nutrition programs that have been historically underfunded and serve our most vulnerable students.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

We appreciate the Administration’s additional investments to build a robust recruitment and retention system for educational staff and a five-year plan focused on supporting students’ wellness and educational attainment; however, without a strong funding foundation that recognizes public education’s mandated costs and debts, such as a proposed $2.6 billion in outstanding deferrals and declining enrollment, it will be challenging for LEAs to implement these admirable programs and sustain them over their students’ academic career. It is critical as we re-imagine a new public education system for the 21st century, that the state will remain committed and focused on students’ academic success.

Tatia Davenport is chief executive officer at the California Association of School Business Officials, representing over 24,000 school business officials statewide on legislative matters affecting public education finance. 

Maria Echaveste

The Opportunity Institute

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Potentially transformative multibillion-dollar investments in community schools and social, emotional and mental health supports represent a bold step in re-imagining California education. These investments reflect the science of learning and development: Adversity, trauma and poverty impact children’s ability to learn, and we must address the “whole child” to ensure educational and life success for all children. The pandemic exacerbated existing racial and economic inequities and created even more trauma for low-income students and students of color. Schools cannot solve all of society’s ills, but the pandemic created an opportunity for integrating services and supports while improving teaching and learning.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The authorizing language for these enormous investments must provide sufficient direction to the state’s agencies, counties and school districts to ensure that the goal of these investments will be achieved. Sufficient resources for technical assistance must be included together with strong state guidance, ideally requirements, will be necessary if transformation is to be become reality. Accountability for the spirit of these investments is key, not just the letter of the law.

Maria Echaveste is president and CEO of the Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit focused on social and economic mobility and racial equity, especially in education policy.

Ryan Smith

Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

I’m pleased that Gov. Newsom has proposed funding in areas that equity advocates have tirelessly advocated for to address the needs of historically under-resourced schools and communities. The proposed increased spending for concentration grants for the highest-need communities will help local communities meet locallydetermined needs with resources for recovery. Our own research (https://partnershipla.org/news/listening-to-learn-what-los-angeles-families-say-they-need-during-distance-learning/) demonstrates that the governor’s proposed $7 billion plan to expand broadband access is a crucial need to support scholars and their families. An investment in broadband access – particularly in low-income communities that tend to be neglected and whose conditions have been exacerbated by the pandemic – would help level the playing field for students of color and address long-standing infrastructure inequities.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

While I’m elated about our continued investment in English learners, foster youth, low-income students and homeless youth, I continue to push the state to not neglect the needs of low-income and middle-income Black youth in California, who are disproportionately impacted by failed systems that don’t support their success. Black, Latinx and immigrant families are under even more pressure as they suffer from two pandemics: the long-lasting impact of systemic racism and the devastating effects of Covid-19, which requires that we ensure these dollars make an impact for these communities.

Ryan Smith is the interim CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools – an in-district, nonprofit partner that serves 14,200 students across 19 LA Unified public schools in Watts, Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles.

Corey Matthews

Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The intentional and targeted focus on the whole child starting with investments in early education leaves much room for hope and optimism in the future of learning for California’s youth. The specific emphasis on transforming youth behavioral systems, converting schools into community schools while investing in universal pre-K and college, feels like the most comprehensive reform to education since the passing of Prop. 13, which worked in the reverse.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The training and rapid certification programs needed to equip a workforce with the skills and know-how to fulfill the promise of our comeback plan.

Corey Matthews is COO at Community Coalition – a permanent community-based organization in South Los Angeles.

Senator John Laird, D-District 17

California State Senate District 17

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor’s May Revision includes additional funding for all Local Eduction Agencies (LEAs) through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), providing ongoing funds to offset ongoing costs and creating more balanced budgets for LEAs as one-time funds expire.
The May Revision advances worthwhile investments, including funding to increase staff in schools serving the most vulnerable students, to invest in after-school enrichment programs, teacher pipelines and various support services. In the Legislature we must continue conversations focused on actualizing these ambitious goals.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The May Revision does not pay down deferrals, despite the unprecedented amount of one-time funding. With so much additional funding from the federal government, and the early action package, paying down the deferrals is still a great option for fiscal stability of LEAs.
Additionally, the May Revision’s investment in school meals is inadequate to be a real incentive for additional participation, and should be increase.
Further, there is funding and planning funds for Transitional Kindergarten, but no investment in funding (rates) or planning for the impact of preschool programs as part of this shift.

John Laird is a veteran state senator from Santa Cruz.

Mayra E. Alvarez

The Children's Partnership

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Investing in child and youth mental health is critical to our path to build back from the pandemic. We commend the budget’s attention to mental health, an important priority through the inclusion of: $3 billion for community schools that integrate wraparound services to support students, $4 billion over five years to transform the youth behavioral health system and $10 million toward early childhood mental health. In addition, as the pandemic has highlighted, internet access is fundamental to our ability to succeed in society today and must be made available for all. From class assignments to job searches, to health care services and play dates, the internet has helped us stay connected. Such a reality must be made available to all in California. The governor is investing $7 billion over three years to expand broadband infrastructure, increase affordability and enhance access to broadband for all Californians moves us towards digital equity in health and education. We look forward to learning the details of these proposed historic investments, including $4 billion for youth behavioral health and $3 billion for community schools. Given the broad flexibility afforded to local schools through the Local Control Funding Formula, we also urge the state to add more specificity to the community schools proposal in particular to ensure this historic investment in schools is transformational, responsive to and truly prioritizes the needs of California’s marginalized students – English learners, foster youth and low-income youth (the vast majority of whom are children of color). We support increased investments in community schools, youth-leadership and peer support, positive school climate development efforts, and increased professional development for school staff, particularly in anti-racist, trauma-informed and culturally responsive student engagement. These efforts serve as systemic interventions that hold unique promise for students of color who, for a variety of reasons, have both greater mental health needs and less access to clinical care than their white peers. Systemic interventions such as these can serve as universal and targeted strategies in a school’s multi-tiered systems of support and ensure that youth of color are not left to languish until they are in crisis.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The current proposal to allocate an additional $50 million to the Mental Health Student Services Act, administered by the Mental Health Services Act Oversight and Accountability Commission, falls short of the necessary $80.5 million it would take to fully fund all school districts who applied for but did not receive this important funding in the previous cycle to support student mental health through county-school collaborations. These projects are “shovel-ready” and could provide important partnership models for other proposed investments that incentivize school collaborations between community partners and health plans that improve student mental health and well-being. No child in California should ever go hungry. No family in California should ever feel they do not have enough food to eat. Given the impacts of the pandemic on food insecurity, we would like to see a commitment to Food4All, a significant investment of the California Food Assistance Program so that all food-insecure children and their families, no matter their immigraiton status, can access the food they need to be healthy and succeed in school and life. Access to affordable and nutritious food is imperative to a child’s well-being, shaping a child’s success in their health and their education. Food insecurity is associated with a number of alarming health outcomes for children, including increased risks of some birth defects, anemia, lower nutrient intakes, worse oral health, cognitive problems, aggression and anxiety, as well as impairment of academic development of children — ultimately severely limiting a child’s potential.

Mayra E. Alvarez is president of The Children’s Partnership, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization committed to giving every child, no matter their background, the resources and opportunities they need for a bright future.

Brian Rivas

Education Trust-West

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

We applaud the governor’s commitment to ensuring students with the highest needs are prioritized, which underlies proposed spending on an increase in the Local Control Funding Formula concentration grant for the highest-need schools, expanded learning, community schools -and teacher workforce investments. By allocating resources where they are needed most, California will be equipped to re-imagine schools and make transformational changes for the most marginalized students.  We will continue to monitor the proposal to ensure every high school senior completes a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) and the Cradle-to-Career data system.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

We would have liked to see more robust investments in technical assistance and support for local education agencies specific to providing services and supports to address the needs of the most marginalized students resulting from the pandemic.

Brian Rivas is the senior director of policy and government relations of The Education Trust-West, a research and advocacy organization for education equity, from preschool through college.

Maria Brenes

InnerCity Struggle

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

When we invest in our children and neighborhoods, we invest in a brighter future for all of us. After a year of immense learning loss and hardships experienced by Eastside of Los Angeles students and other students of color in low-income communities across California, we applaud Gov. Newsom’s budget that moves us toward investing in fully funded schools. We have seen clearly in this pandemic that the purpose of schools is not only learning or preparing students for careers – schools play a critical role in the health and wellness of entire communities. Investing in programs like universal pre-K will allow parents to return to work and increase schools’ capacity to holistically support students’ well-being and academics.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The governor’s California Comeback Plan can go further by targeting funds to communities highly impacted by Covid-19 to ensure a just recovery for all Californians. California must ensure that the resources reach low-income students through an equity index that directs resources to school sites that need them the most.

Maria Brenes is the executive director for InnerCity Struggle based in the Eastside of Los Angeles that works to build the power of youth and families to advance change.

Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco

Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The most important thing we can do right now is reopen schools. The impact of learning loss due to this pandemic cannot be understated, and we owe it to our students to ensure they have access to high-quality education and not Zoom in a room. Because of our unprecedented budget surplus, we have an opportunity to invest in K-12 education like never before and focus on ways to ensure learning loss that occurred during the pandemic is diminished. Three pieces of the governor’s “Transforming Schools” package are the Assembly’s priorities:

  • Universal transitional kindergarten: We need to give all kids a jump start in life, preparing them to succeed in their schooling years ahead.
  • Community schools expansion: Schools cannot close the achievement gap alone. A communitywide approach that meets the nonacademic needs of children can make a significant impact on educational outcomes.
  • $1 billion for expanding learning: All children in under-resourced communities should have after school and summer school options right on campus.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The Assembly K-12 priorities are very similar to the administration’s.

 

Assemblymember Phil Ting represents Assembly District 19, which includes the west side of San Francisco and northern San Mateo County.

Anne Stanton

Linked Learning Alliance

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

We applaud the governor’s May Revise for historic investments in education as communities across California work towards recovery. The Alliance is especially pleased to see a distinct focus on addressing the social, emotional and developmental needs of young people. We know that rich relationships with adults and comprehensive student supports—like counseling, academic help and community schools—really matter, especially for students from families or communities without a history of college-going. These integrated supports drive equitable outcomes when combined with relevant and rigorous pathway learning experiences tied to a student’s sense of purpose and aspirations for college and career. Our state legislators can support high-quality college and career pathways, like Linked Learning, by using the proposed community schools funding to support the integration of community schools and pathways to improve the high school experience.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The focus on student supports in the May Revise is a critical initial step in helping young people persist through the pandemic. But far too many juniors and seniors are opting out of high school even as educators welcome students back to the classroom. California legislators can get ahead of this opt-out crisis by embracing what is proven to engage and motivate young people. High schoolers—specifically— need comprehensive college and career pathways that combine rigorous academics, comprehensive student supports, work-based learning experiences, including internships, and opportunities to earn college credit. High-quality, integrated college and career pathways produce solid gains for young people and tap into the resilience they have demonstrated during the last year to discover their passions and inspire lifelong learning. As we look ahead, we urge policymakers to continue moving forward and increase investment in this critical and proven evidence-based solution.

Anne Stanton is president and CEO of Linked Learning Alliance and is principal architect of the Linked Learning movement.

Jeff Camp

Ed100.org

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Some of the proposals in the budget that matter most to education aren’t in the education portion of the budget. Poverty and housing insecurity are toxic to learning. Measures that allow families on the edge to concentrate on their kids will help mitigate the effects of lost learning time.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

A digital chasm separates the haves from the have-nots in public schools. The pandemic made it plain that good devices and fast, reliable connections really matter. Good school data systems and learning systems matter, too. These infrastructure elements improved during the last year but remain very unequal. This is a moment for thoughtful follow-through. The return to in-person classes does not make this gap unimportant.

Jeff Camp is founder and editor of Ed100.org, a free resource that explains California education issues plainly, in English and Spanish, so that parent leaders and student leaders can get informed, get involved and be heard.

Lawrence Picus

USC Rossier School of Education

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The pandemic forced school districts to identify alternative ways to deliver instruction and to invest in better technology access for all students. The substantial increases in funding for 2021-22 (and hopefully beyond) will enable schools to find the best learning approaches for all students, and at the same time think about ways to re-allocate resources to programs that research shows lead to improved student learning and performance.

Lawrence Picus is professor and associate dean at the USC Rossier School of Education.

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  1. Peggy Boyd 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    …and school libraries?
    Or maybe a representative among the education leaders, advocates and observers to speak on the importance of strong school library programs and credentialed teacher librarians, especially in this time of mis/disinformation, information overload, and an important emphasis on equitable access.