After years of ambitious and record-breaking investments in education, Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled a decline in funding for California’s K-12 schools and community colleges in his 2023-24 proposed budget.

EdSource asked practitioners, observers, advocates, students and legislators to give us their first take on the governor’s budget proposal and tell us what the state should prioritize during an expected economic downturn.

Scroll down and click on the photos to read their thoughts. Also, see what education leaders are saying about the governor’s early education and higher education proposals.

Mala Batra

Aspire Public Schools

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

If we don’t care for the evolving needs of California’s public school students, we will see negative impacts in our state for generations to come. Aspire applauds Governor Newsom’s continued commitment to addressing the workforce shortage in our public schools. But even in an economic downturn, we must invest in our students’ mental health and well-being. Alongside addressing the teacher shortage, we must identify resources to fully address students’ mental health needs. Not only is this the right thing to do for our students, but it will make teachers’ jobs more sustainable, leading to higher teacher satisfaction and retention.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The Covid-19 pandemic took a devastating toll on children’s mental health, and it exacerbated economic and psychological trauma that already existed in communities of color and underresourced communities. The increase in student mental health concerns creates a barrier to learning in schools, and is spreading teachers too thin as they address these issues in the absence of enough mental health support in schools to meet students’ unprecedented needs. Aspire Public Schools looks forward to working with the governor and Legislature to identify and reallocate resources so that schools can meet the evolving needs of all our state’s students.

Mala Batra is the chief executive officer of Aspire Public Schools, a community-based public charter school network educating over 15,500 students in underserved communities across California.

Debra Watkins

A Black Education Network

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Black students have been the lowest-performing subgroup in the state of California since I started teaching 45 years ago, and they have never been a priority in this state. That is criminal! We must fund a bill like AB2774 that was threatened with a veto by Governor Newsom reputedly because of Proposition 209 concerns.

The bill’s author, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, capitulated under the pressure, pulled the bill before it could get to the governor’s desk and compromised on funding that still does not address the lowest-performing subgroup.

Debra Watkins is the founder and executive director of A Black Education Network, an advocacy organization that also provides professional development for teachers and culturally relevant programs for Black students.

Tyrone C. Howard

UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Basic needs and mental health are crucial. We still have over 250,000 unhoused students in California schools. Food insecurities are a real factor for too many students in California. And mental health issues are still a reality for millions of students across the state. We cannot shortchange those areas, because they have a direct impact on students’ readiness to learn.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

In addition to basic needs and mental health, a focus on racial disparities that continue to be a staple in K-12 schools needs to be a priority. The educational outcomes for Black students continue to be embarrassing in California. Over 80% are not proficient in math and reading, and disproportionate numbers of Black students are unhoused and in foster care, and we have accepted that as business as usual. We can do better. AB 2774 would have placed additional funding for the lowest-performing group in the state, which is Black students. The governor did not support that legislation — a missed opportunity.

Tyrone C. Howard is the faculty director of UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools and director of UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children & Families.

Jeff Frost

California School Library Association

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The California School Library Association is pleased that the Governor’s budget maintains full funding for K-12 education and actually expands the focus on literacy. The development of a literacy “roadmap” should help school leaders find best practices and effective models for improving reading opportunities. It is CSLA’s hope that this roadmap will include examples where school libraries have been a difference-maker in getting students excited about reading and the world around them.

Jeff Frost is the legislative advocate for the California School Library Association.

Debra Duardo

Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We need to prioritize students’ health, social-emotional development, trauma, and basic needs, which all have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed. The 2022 School Dashboard has further revealed the need for swift, focused support for all students to ensure access and opportunity are equitable across our state. We stand by eager to engage in discussion of the Governor’s vision to ensure all local educational agencies have the resources needed to address the significant equity gaps that are preventing all kids from meeting their fullest potentials.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

We are in the beginning stages of changing public education as we know it. Despite statewide revenue challenges, the Governor reinforced his commitment to supporting this transformation in his proposed state budget by protecting prior investments made over the last decade that serve the whole child, including community schools, transitional kindergarten, universal meals, expanded learning opportunities and learning acceleration.

Debra Duardo is the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools and the current president of the California County Superintendents.

Anjanette Pelletier

School Services of California

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The administration reinforces their commitment to students with disabilities with policy moves to improve transparency and accountability, as well as applying the full cost-of-living adjustment to the special education base rate. Over the past four years, a dramatic increase in the base funding provided for students with disabilities has eased local budgetary pressures and provided opportunities for improved services to students. The work of improving outcomes for SWDs aims to achieve alignment of equity, compliance monitoring and inclusive practices, and any additional resources for SWDs can support that effort.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Ensuring that ongoing commitments for students with the highest need continue to be included in budgetary priorities. Alignment between plans, mandates, and monitoring between general and special education is a critical way to ensure shared responsibility for student outcomes.

Anjanette Pelletier is a director at School Services of California with 25 years of special education expertise.

Adonai Mack

Children Now

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We need to stand steadfast in ensuring that our most underserved students — African American, Latino, low-income, foster youth, homeless — are provided the resources to be successful. This means high-quality educators who are culturally knowledgeable, innovative and set high expectations. We need to continue to move towards educator-to-student ratios that give our students the best chance for success.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

We are grateful Governor Newsom prioritized public education with minimal budget cuts or using the Proposition 98 reserve account. Even without resources, our school districts and school sites can and must provide a clear idea of how they are spending resources to support our students. A 100-page Local Control Accountability Plan is not the answer to this. Districts can do much better to articulate where they are spending their funding and how that funding is impacting student achievement. Further, it is not funding that prevents school districts from articulating why they have or have not closed opportunity gaps between subgroups of students.

Adonai Mack is the senior director of education for Children Now, a children’s advocacy and research organization based in Oakland and Sacramento.

Joshua Salas

Teacher, Alliance Renee & Meyer Luskin Academy

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

As a teacher, the prolonged effects of Covid-19 have reinforced that what our students need most are diverse, well-supported and effective teachers in their classrooms. Despite the economic downturn, it is pleasing to see the governor’s proposed budget still maintains the goal of growing the teacher workforce. Governor Newsom’s ongoing investment in programs like the Golden State Teacher Grant Program and the Classified School Employee Teacher Credential Program shows that he is invested in strengthening the teaching force, as well as waiving certain examination fees for an additional year will make the path easier for teachers like me to enter the field.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Given what is to come, I believe that it is crucial to grow and sustain a diverse teacher workforce. Though there are no new high-number dollars programs this year, it is more important that we develop oversight and evaluate the impact of the current investments on our classrooms. For example, one question that comes to mind is how many recipients of these grants actually teach in high-need communities or subjects and the extent to which program graduates increase the diversity of the workforce. With more educator data transparency, local education agencies could make more data-informed decisions about growing their educator workforce.

Joshua Salas (he/him) is a 11th grade special education teacher and department chair at  Alliance Renee & Meyer Luskin Academy High, a charter school in Los Angeles; a Teach Plus California senior policy fellow and a member of Education Trust-West’s Educator Advisory Council.

Jonathan Kaplan

California Budget & Policy Center

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Supporting California’s Black, Latinx and other students of color, as well as students from families with low incomes is essential during economic downturns. Historically, these students’ families have suffered through austerity policies when the economy stalls. Fortunately, the proposed budget maintains recent commitments to K-12 education programs that support these students, including the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program. Moreover, the proposal to provide $300 million for a new funding stream to address the needs of students who require additional support holds promise, as does the proposed $250 million to increase funding for literacy programs for schools in high-poverty areas.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Protecting and enhancing investments in English learners and multilingual education. Despite English learners being a large share of the state’s students, California has invested relatively little to implement the English Learner Roadmap since its adoption in 2017. The state should view all its budget decisions through the lens of whether spending supports EL Roadmap implementation. Doing so would protect $20 million included in last year’s budget for the Educator Workforce Investment Grant and also would argue for both increasing investments in EL Roadmap implementation and a strategic assessment of how to implement existing programs to better support ELs.

Jonathan Kaplan is a senior policy analyst for the California Budget & Policy Center, a nonpartisan, research and analysis nonprofit committed to advancing public policies that improve the lives of Californians who are denied opportunities to share in the state’s wealth and deserve the dignity and support to lead thriving lives in our communities.

Aleah Rosario & Jessica Gunderson

Partnership for Children & Youth

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Expanded learning (after school and summer). We appreciate the Governor’s ongoing commitment to expanded learning as a central strategy to close opportunity gaps and implement the California for All Kids plan. We believe this also rings true for middle and high school students who have been left out of recent increases and equally deserve enrichment opportunities. We are seeing success with the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program: More districts are increasing the access and quality of their programs. The biggest challenge is workforce shortages due to low wages. We hope the Governor and Legislature invest in the full educator and care workforce by including a cost-of-living adjustment for expanded-learning workers.

Aleah Rosario and Jessica Gunderson are co-chief executive officers of Partnership for Children & Youth, a nonprofit that improves access to expanded learning programs in California so all children have opportunities beyond the traditional school day.

Megan Bacigalupi

CA Parent Power

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Our state leaders must ensure students and teachers have the supports in place to enable all students to read on grade level, and this budget falls far short. This proposed budget has hundreds of millions going to early literacy efforts, but it’s missing key pieces enabling that money to be effective: no comprehensive state literacy plan, no requirement that curriculum and instruction align with the science of reading, and no mandated dyslexia screening in K-2 as 40 other states require. If enacted, California would waste hundreds of millions on failed balanced literacy programs, doing little to help our literacy crisis.

Megan Bacigalupi is the co-founder and executive director of CA Parent Power, a statewide parent advocacy organization focused on literacy.

Marvin Lopez

California Center on Teaching Careers

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Every student deserves to be taught by an effective, passionate and well-supported teacher, but we know more needs to be done to solve California’s evolving teacher shortage. We’re heartened to see continued investment in teacher recruitment and retention programs, such as the Golden State Teacher Grant Program, which will support teacher candidates who commit to stay in a high-need school, in a high-need subject area for four years. At the California Center on Teaching Careers, we’re proud to be leading innovative, sustainable programs in collaboration with the California Department of Education that enrich our teacher pipeline supported with this funding.

Marvin Lopez is the executive director of the California Center on Teaching Careers, the statewide body charged with helping to solve California’s teacher shortage through collaborative leadership.

 

Melanee Cottrill

California Association of School Psychologists

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Governor Newsom’s budget does a good job of maintaining TK-12 education in light of the weakening economy and rising costs. The January budget demonstrates continued commitment to supporting students and accelerating learning, maintaining recent increases in Local Control Funding Formula and Special Education and whole child approaches to student learning. CASP appreciates the recent investments in educator workforce, and we note that there is growing interest in the Golden State Teacher Grant Program for which those pursuing credentials in school psychology are now eligible.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

California continues to lag in the ratio of school psychologists to pupils, yet schools’ need for the services provided by school psychologists is not decreasing;  in fact, more and more students are being identified for special education services, mental and behavioral health services, early intervention and the whole child supports. School psychologists are central to these efforts. Maintaining funding levels to support the work and these services for students is critical.

Melanee Cottrill is executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists, representing the more than 6,500 credentialed school psychologists and licensed educational psychologists serving California’s students.

Jessie Ryan

Campaign for College Opportunity

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The pandemic has exacerbated an education equity crisis in California. Recognizing that strong support for schools is essential to pandemic recovery, Newsom’s proposed budget maintains support for community schools, student literacy, and provides additional funding to high-poverty schools to address support for their “lowest-performing students.”

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The fallout from the pandemic threatens to impact this generation’s opportunities far into adulthood. Irrespective of fiscal uncertainty, we must continue to invest in and prioritize our children’s mental health. It is unreasonable to believe we can close academic performance gaps without first attending to the broader health and well-being of our students.

Jessie Ryan serves as executive vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, where for nearly two decades she has led the organization’s ambitious policy and advocacy efforts to impact college access, student success, affordability and racial equity in higher education.

Tatia Davenport

California Association of School Business Officials

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The 2023-24 budget proposal reflects the value and importance the Governor puts on public education and protecting the significant investments that have already been made.  California Association of School Business Officials appreciates that cuts to ongoing core programs to support student achievement were avoided and that no new major programs were introduced, allowing education leaders to focus on the execution of significant programs (universal transitional kindergarten, universal meals, etc.). We also appreciate the 8.13% cost-of-living-adjustment for both the Local Control Funding Formula and programs outside the LCFF such as special education and school nutrition.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

We express the need for continued investments in special education funding and pension relief and are concerned about the $1.2 billion reduction in the Arts, Music and Discretionary Block Grant that our schools have not only built into their budgets but have already made investments in and executed plans around. We look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor on these priorities in the coming months.

Tatia Davenport is CEO of California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), the foremost authority on school business.

Heather J. Hough

Policy Analysis for California Education

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

It is critical, even in the face of declining revenue, to prioritize education, and I am glad to see that the proposed budget makes no significant cuts. This year’s budget has protected recent investments, particularly in the areas of transitional kindergarten, expanded learning, dual enrollment, early literacy, special education, and teacher workforce, and also provides a much-needed cost-of-living increase. This budget would provide the needed resources for our educational leaders to do the critical and sustained work of reimagining and rebuilding our schools and districts so that they can address students’ needs and rebuild trust in the system.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The top priority for the year ahead must be in making investments that support local implementation and long-term sustainability. Despite the strong investment in K-12 education, I remain concerned about the system capacity to make the best use of these resources. We have learned during the pandemic that simply allocating money won’t solve the complex and multifaceted problems currently facing our schools and communities. The proposed investments in the accountability and continuous improvement system are a step in the right direction, but more attention needs to be focused on governance and support. Without it, these investments are at risk.

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

Jessica Sawko

California STEM Network, a Project of Children Now

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?\
The priority for supporting kids in TK-12 education remains the same, closing achievement and opportunity gaps. Specifically relating to science, technology, engineering and math education, the state must hold schools accountable for outcomes in science alongside language arts and math. Improving access to higher-level math courses, science courses like physics and chemistry, and computer science courses can help close opportunity gaps. While there is nothing specific in the state budget to address this, limiting cuts to education, particularly funds targeting our educator workforce crisis, is a welcome relief.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?
Again, protecting multiyear funds that can be spent on STEM professional learning opportunities for teachers and STEM teacher recruitment and preparation are critical. I would also like to see the state invest in a more comprehensive approach to teacher recruitment than exists today. Investment in STEM education has the potential to boost student engagement and participation in school, which can help if a school is struggling with chronic absenteeism.

Jessica Sawko is the statewide director of the California STEM Network, brings together partners from TK–12, higher education, business, industry, government, science and technology, community-based organizations, and philanthropy to identify, scale and sustain effective STEM teaching and learning.

Derick Lennox

California County Superintendents

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Students bring their whole selves to school — their adversities included. About 45% of California’s high school students reported feeling “sad or hopeless,” which is higher than the national average (37%). As educational leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure students are safe, healthy and connected with their schools. If we want to close achievement and opportunity gaps, we must lift up the whole child. The governor clearly gets it. The proposed budget protects community schools, universal meals, expanded learning, universal Pre-K and more. The final budget must remain laser-focused on successfully implementing California’s recent slate of whole child student supports.

Note: The statistic above is from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data from 2019, the most recent data year.

Derick Lennox represents the 58 county superintendents of schools as senior director, governmental relations and legal affairs, of the California County Superintendents.

Jon Resendez

Teacher, Irvine Unified School District

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

In line with the existing state priorities of growing and diversifying the teacher workforce, more resources need to be allocated to university-based teacher training programs across the state. These programs are how most teachers are prepared, yet they are still prohibitively expensive, and they struggle to support the development of effective school site preservice teacher mentors. Furthermore, more should be done to make sure that these programs are responsive to changing school conditions so that teachers have the tools to support students and avoid quitting after a few years out of frustration.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Investing in the recruitment and training of educators to meet the needs of our students is the No. 1 priority. The 2009 California Standards for the Teaching Profession are in the process of being revised, and the state will need to invest in creating the infrastructure that would support finalizing and implementing the revised standards. Teacher training programs are serving their legal mandate to train teachers to meet the 2009 state standards, but these standards are outdated. The new, inclusive standards, which are awaiting adoption, affirm student identities, encourage culturally responsive pedagogy and support student social/emotional well-being. It will be critical for teacher education programs to be allocated the budget resources to effectively integrate them into their instructional program for preservice teachers.

Jon Resendez is a civics, world history, and religions teacher at Portola High School in Irvine Unified School District and a 2022-23 Teach Plus California policy fellow.

Scott Richards

Teach For America California Capital Valley

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We’ve got to prioritize academic acceleration. The pandemic’s impact on student achievement was serious, widening an already massive achievement gap in the Golden State. Despite the shortfall, there are ways to build on what’s good for kids. The proposed budget’s additional investments in the Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Grant Program, for example, is a strong step forward. That expansion could allow for double the number of high-poverty schools getting critical, evidence-based support in teaching kids how to read.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Our Ignite fellowship program, which partners with schools to provide students with high-dosage tutoring, including in literacy, has been a bright spot. But bright spots like this one — and surely the many others happening across the state — are made possible by the people doing the work. Smart investments in human capital are absolutely crucial to academic acceleration. The budget should take into account which of the educator workforce programs have been thoughtfully evaluated, deemed successful and then protect those programs to ensure we’re getting the best adults in front of our kids.

Scott Richards is the executive director of Teach For America California Capital Valley, a nonprofit that prepares diverse, talented individuals to lead in our K-12 schools.

Sarah Lillis

Teach Plus California

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

State priorities for supporting K-12 education must advance the state’s commitment to educational equity that began 10 years ago with the Local Control Funding Formula. In addition to the ongoing investment in LCFF, we are pleased that the proposed budget extends many of Governor Newsom’s programs focused on addressing the needs of historically marginalized students, with community schools, Golden State Teacher Grants, and other teacher pipeline programs targeted at the communities with the greatest need. As the fiscal pressures of an economic downturn increase, it will be even more important that state leaders ensure that those young people who need more, get more.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Protecting the recent historic K-12 investments and their equitable distribution to local education agencies is essential, but the allocations to local districts alone are not going to transform opportunities and outcomes for California’s students. As Governor Newsom said at his press conference, “You continue to do what you’ve done, you get what you got. … Our vision is realized locally.” To be transformative, the state investments must be accompanied by transparency, accountability and implementation support to improve local policy and practice. Moreover, we need state leaders to align these programs around a comprehensive vision of the change we want to see to truly transform opportunity for our students.

Sarah Lillis is executive director of Teach Plus California, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers to advance educational equity by leading systems change.

Anya Hurwitz

Sobrato Early Academic Language

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We applaud the Governor’s focus to invest in a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce and expand professional learning opportunities. We are also heartened by the investments in the Local Control Funding Formula that increase support and build upon successful approaches to better serve English learners effectively and equitably. Resources are still needed to build evidence-based practices that recruit, train, and retain bilingual teachers and expand dual language programs. Furthermore, all California educators must get the support they still need to ensure culturally and linguistically affirming learning experiences are provided for all our diverse children across all educational programs.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Diversity is California’s greatest asset, and through the Global California 2030 initiative, our state committed to providing more opportunities for students to become bilingual and biliterate. We need to stay the course and further invest in expanding equitable opportunities for multilingual education. The state should remain committed to investing in research and evidence-based approaches that support literacy and language development for all English learners and dual language learners from preschool through high school, and beyond.

Anya Hurwitz is the executive director of Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL).

Sara Noguchi

California Association of Suburban School Districts

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Suburban districts appreciate the continued commitment in the proposed budget to local control funding and decision making. Ongoing funding that recognizes the rising costs faced by schools is critical to schools’ efforts to accelerate student learning. The Governor’s budget proposes significant cost-of-living adjustments to the Local Control Funding Formula, special education funding and state preschool, and maintains commitments to major new programs including expansion of transitional kindergarten. Sustaining funding for these important education programs is vital. The California Association of Suburban School Districts looks forward to engaging with Governor Newsom and the Legislature on California’s education spending plan as the state’s revenue projections become clearer.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The first priority for suburban districts remains student learning and addressing opportunity and learning gaps. Fiscal stability and ongoing resources to continue programs that accelerate learning, engage students and prepare them for opportunities and successful futures are crucial.

Sara Noguchi is the superintendent of Modesto City Schools, which is the lead district for the California Association of Suburban School Districts.

Adam Weinberger

California School Employees Association

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Whether in a good or bad economic year, the state should ensure that public education has sufficient funding to educate our students. The needs of our students endure, even in difficult economic times, and our budget should reflect that. We are happy to see that the budget does not propose major cuts to important funding priorities given the projected budget deficit.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The education workforce crisis has greatly impacted student learning and has caused staff morale to drop significantly. Classified staff and teachers are leaving public education due to burnout, lack of support and low pay. There needs to be a greater focus on how to support our school employees with competitive pay and better working conditions so they will not leave the profession.

Adam Weinberger is the association president of the California School Employees Association, AFL-CIO, a union representing a quarter-million classified employees in our public schools, county offices of education and community colleges.

Anne Stanton

Linked Learning Alliance

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We applaud a framework that continues to put students, and the self-determined futures they deserve, first. Now is the time to double down on approaches proven to lead to equity and excellence in education, particularly for youth ages 14-24, when aspirations take shape. Recent investments in Golden State Pathways, dual enrollment, and community schools provide the unprecedented opportunity to create more coherent, effective and equitable experiences for students during this decade of difference. If policymakers provide educators the support they need, we can be more deliberate, integrated and systemic about it, plotting a clear course from learning to lifelong success.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Protecting investments in evidence-based practices that create relevant and community-engaged experiences for students should be a top priority. Covid-19 and the inequities it deepened have left us with a broken education-to-workforce pipeline. The strength of our economy depends on our ability to keep students connected to meaningful credentials and careers. Golden State Pathways is proven to prepare students for college and career, not one or the other. This paves the way for a more equitable, resilient workforce. Policymakers would be wise to use this investment and momentum to catalyze coherence that leads to accelerated, seamless learning experiences and postsecondary success.

Anne Stanton is president and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance, an organization that leads a movement to connect all young people to college, career and purpose.

Rosa De León

Californians for Justice

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We love the continued commitment to community schools and mental health in Governor Newsom’s budget proposal. It’s important to address students’ needs and to continue the momentum towards creating racially just, relationship-centered schools. We celebrate the sustained $4.1 billion investments for community schools implementation and the $4.7 billion towards youth behavioral health in addressing the pandemic’s impact on youth. We want a stronger commitment to police-free schools and think that future budgets would do well in exploring the need to divest and disband school policing and invest resources in proven safety practices like restorative justice programs and counseling.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

We’ve heard from youth across the state — in our membership, listening sessions, and one-to-one conversations — that addressing mental health and wellness is critical. About 66% of students reported their mental health was negatively impacted by the pandemic in the 2022 State of Wellness Report. Additional resources are necessary and we need to embed them into school culture. Community schools are a vehicle to address mental health needs, share power with students and transform our schools. We must continue these investments. The historic allocations we’ve seen in recent budget cycles are only the beginning of addressing this issue head-on.

Rosa De León is senior strategy director at Californians for Justice, a statewide youth-powered organization fighting for racial justice.

Margaret Fortune

Fortune School of Education

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We must prioritize addressing the chronic achievement gap for Black students, the lowest performing subgroup, with 70% not meeting English language arts standards and 84% not meeting math standards. We appreciate the Governor’s equity proposal for $300 million in ongoing funding, but it misses the mark. We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the needs of Black students with general proposals that never actually reach them. This proposal, drafted without stakeholders, targets low-income schools, not the lowest-performing students. There is a difference. Low-income students already receive supplemental and concentration grants under the Local Control Funding Formula. There are 80,000 Black students, the lowest performing subgroup, who will still go unfunded because they are not low-income. We have seen attempts before to address equity with $300 million in a previous Governor Brown budget, but then only 8% of the funding went to Black students and performance only worsened. We are concerned this proposal will have the same result.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Our No. 1 priority as a part of the Black in School Coalition is to finally address the inequities for the lowest-performing students. Right now that’s Black and Native American children. We would like to see the governor’s proposed $300 million directed toward adding the lowest-performing subgroup not currently receiving supplemental funding to the unduplicated pupil count of the LCFF right alongside English language learners, foster and homeless youth, and low-income students, triggering accountability through Local Control Accountability Plans.

Margaret Fortune is the president/CEO of the Fortune School of Education with 12 preschool-12 public charter schools in Sacramento and San Bernardino counties, and whose work is pointed towards one North Star — to close the Black achievement gap. Additionally, Fortune School of Education was the sponsor of Assembly Bill 2774 (2022, Weber).

Martha Hernandez

Californians Together

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to education, specifically the $300 million ongoing Proposition 98 general fund to establish an equity multiplier as an add-on to the Local Control Funding Formula to focus on closing opportunity gaps. However, we are concerned that without a requirement to set goals to close achievement gaps within district plans, the funding will not have the desired impact. We applaud the continued dedication to the educator workforce and would highlight the need for targeted funding for bilingual teacher preparation programs. In the early literacy space, the $250 million one-time Proposition 98 General Fund to build upon the existing Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Grant Program including the additional funding for professional development is a good investment; however funds should also be targeted to ensure that biliteracy coaches and reading specialists are recruited, hired and trained.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

With a limited budget on the horizon, we must not forget about our neediest students. We have seen it too many times that cutting education funds primarily hurts our English learners, homeless and foster youth. We must not lose focus on closing the academic and opportunity gaps while keeping in mind our educators. Current investments and approaches must be targeted to meeting the unique needs of our English learners. Additionally, the state should protect and expand proven approaches to educator professional learning, like the Educator Workforce Investment Grants.

Martha Hernandez is the executive director at Californians Together, a statewide advocacy coalition of powerful organizations from all segments of the education community.

Eric Premack

Charter Schools Development Center

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The Governor’s budget calls for full funding of cost-of-living adjustments, which is a highest priority. Unfortunately, it also calls for retroactively cutting $1.2 billion of previously-appropriated discretionary grant funding that schools had already budgeted for the current year, and his proposal to backfill with restricted arts funding is not a solution.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Baseline programs, formula growth, and cost-of-living adjustments are the highest priority to avoid strangling budgets during inflationary times. Funding for recent program expansions, including universal meals, universal transitional kindergarten facilities, and other new mandates is inadequate to pay for actual start-up and operational costs. Either the mandates need to be trimmed or full funding should be provided. The budget should retract ongoing assaults on “local control.” Though small, the proposed $15 million “Commercial Dishwasher Grant” is a ridiculous example of state micromanagement.

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

State Sen. Josh Newman

Chair of the Senate Committee on Education

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The state has made great strides in addressing the holistic needs of students by implementing a “whole child” framework that considers all factors, including academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and mental health, which affect a student’s success. This has included implementing universal free meals, school-based health, community schools and expanded learning opportunities. I’m encouraged that these programs continue to be upheld in the Governor’s budget.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Our students have faced enormous challenges over the last few years, and as we move out of the pandemic, the latent impacts on children and their mental health will be dramatic. Investing in mental health services for our students is more important than ever to set up our kids for success. Additionally, in order to effectively address learning loss, initiatives to expand the teacher workforce are critical to ensure schools have the professional staff necessary to meet students’ needs and close this gap.

State Sen. Josh Newman is the chair of the Senate Committee on Education and represents the 29th Senate District.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi

Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

As schools work to accelerate learning and meet students’ mental health needs coming out of the pandemic, as well as implement major new initiatives like expanded transitional kindergarten and community schools, our priority should be supporting their efforts and monitoring local implementation. We must also protect our progress of recent years in raising per pupil funding and ensure that no funding reductions impact the classroom. This proposed budget meets the mark in many of these respects. In particular, I am pleased to see a record high in per-pupil funding and a cost-of-living adjustment that reflects districts’ increased costs.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

We must protect students from the impact of any funding reductions by sustaining the historic increases to the local control funding formula base in recent budgets, and by providing a COLA that reflects high inflation. We must also continue to seek solutions to our teacher shortage while supporting and monitoring the workforce investments of recent years.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi is chair of the Assembly Committee on Education and represents the 66th District.

Vickie Ramos Harris

Catalyst California (formerly Advancement Project California)

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

California must protect and maintain progress made in education investments and continue to advance racial equity through proposals that reach students and families of color who have historically experienced unconscionable barriers and underinvestment. The Governor’s budget does this via key investments like increasing per-pupil funding, safeguarding the $4.1 billion to establish racially just, relationship-centered community schools, and $300 million to establish a Local Control Funding Formula equity multiplier. With an economic downturn, it’s critical to double down on equity throughout all budget and policy decisions, including investments that accelerate learning and recovery amidst the ongoing pandemic.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Centering equity continues to be the priority in the K-12 system to address historic disinvestments in schools. We applaud the Governor for the investment of $300 million to establish a Local Control Funding Formula equity multiplier and welcome the commitment to accelerate learning gains and close opportunity gaps despite a declining revenue year. As the state develops its targeted methodology, it can build on the Student Equity Need Index model which uses comprehensive academic and community-based data to identify school communities with highest need. We look forward to working with the Governor to ensure the equity multiplier impacts students facing disproportionate disparities.

Vickie Ramos Harris is the director of educational equity at Catalyst California, an organization that advocates for racial justice by building power and transforming public systems.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The January Budget is consistent with the Assembly’s Budget Blueprint: protect classroom funding and our transformative investments in the public education, despite the softening economy. The Budget proposal protects our historic, priority investments in LCFF, Career Tech, after school, universal TK, and school meals. I think the Governor’s framework to “right-size” one-time investments to fit the updated revenue picture is the right approach.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected , or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

I will fight to protect California’s transformative investments in the whole child: Universal TK and universal after school opportunities are key ingredients to close the opportunity gap, and we can’t slow down.

Kevin McCarty represents Assembly District 6. He is the Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.

Christopher J. Nellum

The Education Trust–West

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

California must continue to address opportunity and achievement gaps worsened by the pandemic. We are relieved to see important recent investments in K-12 schools spared from cuts — and even augmented with an 8% cost-of-living adjustment. What’s more, with refinements to the Local Control Funding Formula (like the equity multiplier), California’s school funding mechanism will become an even sharper tool for advancing educational equity.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Truthfully, all K-12 investments must be protected. Those funds are vital to combating the biggest barriers to an equitable recovery: a severe shortage of highly qualified teachers, especially teachers of color, and inequitable access to rigorous, culturally affirming coursework, especially in math. We’d also like to see funding for the development of a plan to implement the English learner roadmap so that schools can support English learners. And for any of those elements to be effective, schools must build trusting relationships with both students and their families.

Christopher J. Nellum is the executive director of The Education Trust–West, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that works toward racial equity in California educational systems — preschool through college.

Tim Taylor

Small School Districts' Association

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

To maintain the programs that were invested in such as expanded learning, career technical education, community schools, arts and TK/Preschool. The budget did this except for the reduction of $1.2 billion for the arts. Voters and parents approved Proposition 28, and the message they sent to state leaders that is they want the arts for all of our children. We asked for parent input to our schools, and they gave it to us. Keep that in the budget and listen to our parents and voters.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Expanded funding for mental health for students, especially in communities that have been devastated by natural disasters in small towns and rural areas. The children and educators are traumatized, hurting and need support as they rebuild their districts and communities.

Tim Taylor, executive director, Small School Districts’ Association, which amplifies the voices of and advocates for its 539 member districts.

Margaret Olmos

National Center for Youth Law

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We have to keep the needs of children centered in K-12 funding priorities — that means inclusive, equitable, healing-centered, culturally appropriate educational experiences. We know California’s children in K-12 classrooms are living through very challenging times — from Covid disruptions and unprecedented weather events to an economic downturn causing stress at home and in our communities. So it’s disappointing to see one-time funding that doesn’t allow for strategic investment in students and schools and cuts to programs like arts and music that may help children in trauma.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Every child, starting in their earliest years and into their youth, deserves the opportunity to thrive in their homes, neighborhoods and classrooms. California policymakers can help children have healthy childhoods and quality education by investing in and protecting them, and ending exclusionary consequences that push students in need out of school. While we know from our work with school districts that the number of students experiencing homelessness has gone up significantly over the last few years, the number of students identified has declined at an alarming rate. California must make a statewide financial commitment to identifying and supporting youth experiencing homelessness and helping students remain in school.

Margaret Olmos is the director of compassionate education systems at the National Center for Youth Law, a national child advocacy organization, and focuses on advancing equity for system-impacted scholars in California.

Jan Gustafson-Corea

California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE)

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

California must ensure all students are given tools for success and must not forget the more than 1.1 million English learners/multilingual learners in our classrooms. Districts across the state are scrambling for bilingual teachers in languages such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, and Hmong, as well as dozens of other languages including some indigenous languages of the Americas.

While the budget seeks to protect education funding as the economy contracts, it must continue to invest in expanding our current and future workforce of bilingual teachers, while providing districts and educators the professional development tools they need to increase their capacity to serve these students. In spite of financial challenges, or perhaps because of them, CABE’s values will be realized as we advocate for implementing priorities, initiatives, and services designed to increase California’s capacity to create caring and highly effective learning environments. CABE will continue to promote multiliteracy and support English learners/multilingual learners and all diverse populations as they graduate from high school prepared for college, career, and life — prepared to live their lives to their fullest potential in a globally connected California and world.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

CABE believes California must increase our investments to create and support additional bilingual teachers in all classrooms across the state. Policymakers must remember that the exodus of teachers is also impacting our bilingual teachers and must be addressed if California is to have a successful workforce in the future.

Jan Gustafson-Corea is the CEO of the California Association for Bilingual Education, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for and support biliteracy, multicultural competency, and educational equity for all students.

Loretta L Whitson

California Association of School Counselors

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

I would be remiss to not mention my appreciation for the Governor’s ongoing commitment to mental health. Recent gains in strengthening the Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) workforce (School Psychologists, School Social Workers, and School Counselors) were made. Yet, mental health issues are still increasing in numbers and intensity, and it is going to take all of us together to maintain the level of support needed. Due to the teacher shortages, many school counselors have been asked to substitute teach. I would recommend California priorities programs that strengthen the workforce pipeline, such as the Golden State Teacher Grant Program which now includes PPS candidates.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Protect mental health services in schools! Historically economic downturns have resulted in drastic cuts to school-based support services. The Governor’s budget thankfully maintains a level of funding that may avoid the level of cuts we have seen in the past. Many states mandate school counseling services. California does not because we measure student progress in LCAP priority areas. The California Association of School Counselors look forward to ensuring those priorities are met and will continue to work with the Governor to meet the challenges facing our youth today.

Loretta Whitson serves as the executive director for the California Association of School Counselors, the largest state association representing the needs and interests of the 15,000 school counselors working in California’s PreK-12 schools.

Amy Cranston

Social Emotional Learning Alliance for California

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The overall well-being of both students and educators is fundamental to creating effective learning and working environments. While the urgency and substantial fiscal support for strengthening the educator pipeline and addressing teacher shortages is indeed critical at this time, I fear we are treating the symptom without addressing the cause. There’s been a lot of lip service paid to teacher well-being and retention over the past couple of years, yet I don’t see that reflected in the budget.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Indeed, we must continue to fortify the educator pipeline, but with significant numbers of new teachers leaving the profession within the first five years, we must also find ways to retain educators by prioritizing their overall well-being. Studies have shown a correlation between the stress-levels of teachers and that of their students. Hence, student well-being doesn’t happen without teacher well-being.

Amy Cranston, Ed.D., is the executive director for the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for California (SEL4CA), a nonprofit social emotional learning advocacy organization.

Joel Vargas

Jobs for the Future

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The state must maintain a commitment to promoting more equitable opportunities and outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds and Black and Latino students. The budget’s LCFF equity multiplier for high-poverty schools and continued investment in community schools designed to support the multifaceted needs of young people are strong expressions of that commitment.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Continued investments in career and technical education are important for preparing young people for careers, and the state should encourage and promote strategies that leverage these funds and programming with recent historic investments in dual enrollment and Golden State Pathways partnerships to ensure more students complete work-based learning experiences and earn the postsecondary credentials and degrees they need for high-skill, high-growth, and well-paying jobs of the future.

Joel Vargas is vice president, education, based in the Oakland office of Jobs for the Future.

Kevin Gordon

Capitol Advisors Group

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

While it is our job to look for the opportunities and shortcomings of any budget proposal for public education, pre-K-12 schools cannot be ungrateful for a plan that preserves all of the major new ongoing investments in education and provides the largest statutory cost-of-living adjustment in at least two decades. All of this while state revenues are projected to fall by nearly $30 billion over three years. Let’s just hope the economy allows us to hang onto this for an adopted budget act.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

The fundamentals of school finance need to be constantly reinforced as a priority over even the newest proposals in this budget. Fully funding programs implemented in the current year and securing the COLA across all programs next year are essential — including an effort to avoid cuts to the discretionary block grant being proposed in the middle of this school year.

Capitol Advisors represents hundreds of public school districts and county superintendents on education fiscal and policy issues at the Capitol.

John Affeldt

Public Advocates

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The most important funding priorities for the state’s neediest students in this down-year are largely included in the governor’s budget: hold local control funding formula funding steady (and even add a $300 million equity multiplier) and maintain the key “whole child” investments rolled out during recent surplus years. In this 10th-year anniversary of LCFF’s passage with major new funding on hold, the administration is also proposing to tackle another important priority of ours: an accountability system update. The multiple measures/continuous improvement system is in need of refinements to improve the allocation of resources according to student needs and to ensure services are effective in closing opportunity and outcome gaps. In seeking to be more intentional about closing equity gaps at the school level for Black and brown students and multilingual learners, the administration is starting the right conversation and pointing it in the right direction.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

As noted, a declining revenue year is an excellent time to focus on updating the accountability system to ensure California is fulfilling the promise of equitable and effective gap-closing services under LCFF. Another top priority for us and our grassroots partners in the California Partnership for the Future of Learning is continuing the effort to reimagine an education system built by and for us all through the state’s ambitious $4.1 billion community schools grant program. We’re pleased Governor Newsom is holding to his prior commitments and maintaining funding. Now is the time to work on effectively building over 1,500 racially just, relationship-centered community schools, with deep student and family engagement, diverse, highly qualified staff and integrated whole-child supports.

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

Carrie Hahnel

Bellwether

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The state’s primary goal should be to strengthen teaching and learning, especially for students furthest from opportunity. By protecting TK-12 funding levels and proposing a healthy cost-of-living adjustment, the state is providing the fiscal foundation districts need to strengthen academic programs. And by proposing a local control funding formula “equity multiplier,” the state is taking steps to ensure school sites serving the most historically underserved students have the resources they need. This targeted funding, combined with continued investments in programs like community schools, expanded learning and efforts to strengthen the educator workforce moves California education in the right direction.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

During previous economic downturns, districts in lower-wealth communities experienced deeper budget cuts than their more advantaged counterparts. To prevent that from happening again, the state should not only protect higher-poverty districts from disproportionate cuts but should invest more in those places so they can effectively address students’ academic, social and emotional needs.

Carrie Hahnel is a senior associate partner at Bellwether, a national nonprofit that partners with leaders and organizations across the education sector.

Vernon Billy

California School Boards Association (CSBA)

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

Schools need ongoing resources to support achievement, close opportunity gaps, facilitate student well-being and continue learning recovery. The Governor’s Budget Proposal takes a step in the right direction with a fully funded cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and a rebenched Prop 98 that will help local school districts implement transitional kindergarten. Yet, at this critical time, schools also require increased mental health supports, more ambitious initiatives to address the staffing shortage, and greater funding for cybersecurity and pension relief that will allow them to direct more funding to the classroom and student services.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Raising base funding for the Local Control Funding Formula is the most effective way to provide academic supports and social services that address learning recovery and overall student achievement. Boosting the COLA to keep pace with rising expenses empowers schools as they respond to the lingering impacts of the pandemic and longstanding challenges that grew during 40 years of underinvestment in public education. We must protect the investments we’ve made to support learning recovery generally, while also providing the flexibility school districts need to respond to the specific issues faced by their diverse student populations.

Vernon M. Billy is CEO & executive director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA)

Edgar Zazueta, Ed.D.

Executive Director, Association of California School Administrators

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

The priority should be on the Local Control Funding Formula and fully funding the statutory cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Best meeting student needs across our diverse state is reliant on empowering local school communities.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Protecting the local control funding formula and fully funding its statutory COLA.

Edgar Zazueta is executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, which represents 17,000 TK-12 school leaders from across the state.

Jeff Freitas

California Federation of Teachers 

What should be the priorities for supporting K-12 education during this economic downturn, and how well does the proposed budget meet them?

We face unprecedented staffing shortages in our public schools, and funding will be critical to retaining our experienced educators and classified staff, attracting new talent into the profession and elevating public education careers to ultimately improve student achievement and well-being inside and outside the classroom. The California Federation of Teachers applauds Governor Newsom’s yearslong commitment to raising California’s per-pupil funding. Nevertheless, as the world’s fourth-largest economy, we can and must do more for our public schools.

What’s your No. 1 priority for K-12 that should be protected, or even expanded, in a declining revenue year?

Our key priorities will be addressing staffing shortages and lowering class sizes so that our students can receive the consistent, individualized education they deserve. California is the world’s fourth-largest economy but our K-12 funding in comparison to the rest of the U.S. is middling. The future of our state depends on investing in our students now.

Jeff Freitas is the president of California Federation of Teachers  – A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals.

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  1. Chris Stampolis 1 week ago1 week ago

    While I welcome the read of each of these leader's comments, I suggest that you scroll through the photos to get a sense of the ethnic distribution of the panelists. There literally are ten times as many Latino human beings in California than there are African-American human beings, and way more than ten times as many Latino/a/e/x students. I do not suggest to remove any commenter from the panel above. However I … Read More

    While I welcome the read of each of these leader’s comments, I suggest that you scroll through the photos to get a sense of the ethnic distribution of the panelists. There literally are ten times as many Latino human beings in California than there are African-American human beings, and way more than ten times as many Latino/a/e/x students. I do not suggest to remove any commenter from the panel above. However I do suggest significantly increasing the number of Latino panelists to attempt to approach representation. By far the largest cohort of students in the 23-campus CSU system are Latina women. Additionally, Asian-heritage students still lead enrollment in the University of California, followed by Latino students. Whites are a continually shrinking distant population minority. Aside from Assemblymember Muratsuchi, the above panel has zero East Asian heritage panelists.

    The panel above does not sufficiently represent California’s diversity. It needs to be expanded.