Welcome to the July 2023 edition of What We’re Watching in California Education, a newsletter that we hope will offer you insight into public education conversations happening at our state Capitol.
Governor Newsom and California’s legislature passed the state education budget before adjourning for Summer Recess (July 14 – August 14), and California looks to increase equitable education while federal decisions could roll it back. Here are the toplines:
Governor and Legislature Come to Final Budget Agreement: This year’s budget includes considerable investments in K-12 schools, as well as some cuts to large block grants. Among the allocations is an update to the LCFF equity multiplier, which could reach more Black students.
The California Reparations Project: A state Task Force has published a report, making California the first state to address reparations for Black residents. Sixteen policy recommendations aim to advance educational justice for California’s 273,000 African American students.
GO Statewide Advocacy Updates: Keep reading for an update on GO’s advocacy and bills we’re supporting, and how they will advance educational equity, funding accountability, and college access and affordability.
Governor and Legislature Come to Final Budget Agreement
Governor Newsom came to an agreement with the legislature on a final state education budget on June 26th, and signed the Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill on July 10th. Since the initial budget proposal in January, educators, advocates, and families have weighed in on the investments in K-12 education, resulting in some wins – and some compromises – for California students:
- LCFF: $1.6 billion one-time Prop 98 General Fund to support the cost of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and a cost-of-living adjustment of 8.22%, the highest in the history of LCFF. Given decreased enrollment, year-over-year discretionary funds for local educational agencies (LEA) will increase by over $3 billion
- EQUITY MULTIPLIER: $300 million for the LCFF equity multiplier, which has amended its requirements: eligibility will be determined by percentage of students qualifying for free- or reduced-priced meals (70% or higher) and non-stability rates (25% or higher), a measure which considers the percentage of students who receive a “full year” of learning in the same school. Schools receiving equity multiplier funding will also be required to create plans to support student groups in the lowest-performing subgroup in one or more categories on the California School Dashboard. Preliminary estimates indicate that these amendments will expand eligibility to about 15% of Black students in the state
- BLOCK GRANTS: The Learning Recovery Block Grant has been cut by $1.6 billion, which leaves $6.3 billion available for the program. The Arts, Music, Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant saw a $200 million cut – a compromise for the Governor who initially proposed a $1.8 billion cut in January
- LITERACY: $250 million one-time funding for literacy programs, and $1 million for the California Department of Education (CDE) to form an independent task force to determine a list of early literacy screening tools in accordance with provisions originating from SB 691. Universal early literacy screeners will begin in the 2025-26 school year
- FINANCIAL AID: Following the delay in applications due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, the priority deadline for FAFSA and CADAA has been moved from March 2nd to April 2nd, 2024. There is also $227 million allocated in 2023-24 and $289 million in 2024-25 for the Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) program. Aid is expanded for current and former foster youth, with $5.2 million ongoing through the MCS, $14 million ongoing to the Student Success Completion Grant, and additional trailer bill funding, making foster youth the first student group to receive funding to cover the total cost of attendance
Other investments include $2.83 billion in one-time funds for child care reimbursement increases, $938 million for implementation of Arts and Music Education Funding (Prop 28), and $15 million for the Cradle-to-Career (C2C) Data System.
The California Reparations Project
In 2020, the California legislature passed AB 3121 (Weber), creating the “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States.” On June 29th, the Task Force released their final reparations report. Chapter 6 of The California Reparations Report, “Separate and Unequal Education,” analyzes the harm of 246 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow and racial terror, and decades more of continuing discrimination, resulting in today’s educational outcomes.
The report includes a set of sixteen education policy recommendations that the legislature can adopt in order to achieve justice for students who are descendants of enslaved people in California. Recommendations include increased funding to schools, systematic review of school discipline data and practices, and closure of academic achievement gaps.
Under AB 3121, any reparations program will need to be enacted by the legislature and approved by the Governor, so the implementation of these recommendations will take time. As the recent Supreme Court ruling on race-conscious admissions programs will have an effect on students of color in California, state lawmakers may look to the Task Force’s recommendations to inform policies in this, and future, legislative cycles.
GO Statewide Advocacy Updates
Since our last update, GO has signed on in support of 3 additional bills that would increase college access and affordability and remove barriers for underserved student groups:
AB 1540 (M. Fong) would streamline the process by which undocumented students apply for financial aid. Since 2001, undocumented students have been exempt from paying out-of-state nonresident tuition if they complete the AB 540 affidavit. Since 2011, these students have been eligible for state financial aid through the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). This bill would incorporate the AB 540 affidavit within the CADAA, so that students do not need to fill out two separate forms. AB 1540 has passed the Assembly, and is set for hearing August 14th in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 789 (Berman) would remove barriers that limit students’ ability to keep their financial aid. In order to maintain a Cal Grant or federal financial aid, students must meet certain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards, such as a minimum GPA, a maximum timeframe for completion, and a minimum course completion rate. 34% of Black students and 32% of Native American students do not meet SAP standards, which is double the rate of their white and Asian peers. Currently, institutions can create their own SAP requirements, but this bill would establish a common set of standards for SAP. AB 789 has passed the Assembly, as well as the Senate Education Committee. It was placed on the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file, given the significant fiscal effect. It will be heard prior to the fiscal committee deadline on September 1st.
AB 368 (Holden) would expand the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnership program, which is a more structured, more inclusive dual enrollment opportunity that facilitates career technical education or degree transfer, improves high school graduation rates, and helps high school students achieve college and career readiness. This bill would grant priority registration for participating high school students, exempt them from fees, and add clarity to the CCAP program. AB 368 has passed the Assembly, and is on the Senate floor.
Darcel Sanders, Chief Executive Officer