Statement: Public Advocates Comments on Education Highlights from Gov. Newsom’s Proposed CA Budget

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2021
Contact: Duc Luu, dluu@publicadvocates.org, 857-373-9118

STATEMENT FROM PUBLIC ADVOCATES ON EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS FROM GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S PROPOSED CALIFORNIA BUDGET

California’s low-income communities of color, students, essential workers and renters are facing unprecedented hardships as Covid-19 continues to ravage our state, unemployment remains high, evictions loom, renters accumulate insurmountable debt, and public schools struggle to serve more than 6 million students with in-person and virtual learning. We urge the Governor and legislators to ensure a truly transformative recovery into 2021 that centers equity and addresses the need to achieve systemic change in California. Public Advocates’ John Affeldt, managing attorney for our Education Team, comments:

“We call on the Governor and legislators to take bold action to come to the aid of more than 6 million students in our public schools who have lost critical instruction time, and who are in dire need of social/emotional support,” said John Affeldt, managing attorney at Public Advocates. “We must use this budget to redouble our efforts to build a racially just public school system that reopens the most impacted schools safely and provides rich and engaging extended learning opportunities to address the lost learning time and social/emotional trauma experienced in our low-income Black and Brown communities.”

Highlights of Education Budget Recommendations

  • We generally support Governor Newsom’s proposal to direct $2 billion to make in-person learning for public school students possible, provided it can be done so safely and ensures the most-impacted communities have enough additional support to enable their actual reopening.
  • We support the $4.6 billion proposal to extend learning time. It will be important that this investment be in a truly “restorative” return to school which avoids traditional drill and kill summer school remediation and instead provides students with innovative, rich and engaging learning opportunities this summer and into next year. As well, these funds should be used to address the critical social-emotional and mental health needs of students.
  • We support the Governor’s proposed $450 million+ investment in a racially diverse and well-prepared teacher workforce. We need to support our current educators, who have experienced their own challenges and trauma this year, and at the same time invest in the teacher pipeline to offset anticipated shortages arising from retirements and pandemic-related attrition.
  • We applaud the proposal to spend $3.8 billion above the Prop 98 guarantee. This increase to the guarantee should be made permanent.
  • We support the investment of $300 million in community schools, as well as other mechanisms to facilitate the delivery of social-emotional/mental health services.
  • We urge the Governor to fulfill his September promise to use this budget to fix a significant loophole in the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula law. The practice of many districts, which divert unspent Supplemental and Concentration (S&C) funds to basic operations from year-to-year rather than spending those funds on services for high-need students, must be ended.
  • We support the Governor’s proposed investments in community colleges and their students. Students across the system need to be reengaged and supported both with financial aid and basic needs.
  • We support the Governor’s proposed investment of $15 million to continue the important work of building out the Student Longitudinal Data System and would urge that it be increased to at least $25 million. Tracking student progress over time, from Pre-K to higher ed to the workforce, may not be sexy but it’s critical for understanding and addressing racial equity gaps. California remains one of only nine states without a comprehensive student data system.

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Public Advocates is a nonprofit civil rights law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and discrimination. For nearly fifty years it has strengthened community voices in public policy and achieved tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation, and climate justice.

Originally published by Public Advocates: Source

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