Investing in Education
Call it a modern renovation of the public education sector: California has budgeted to make meaningful investments to bridge the opportunity and achievement gaps, which means the future for our students will be getting much brighter. The most significant milestone is the funding of TK-12 public education to a historic $22,000 per pupil. It’s an investment we can be proud of. This is over double what the state provided in 2013-14 and a 15% increase from the previous fiscal year 2021-22. All in all, the state is funding local school districts past the Proposition 98 guarantee, as well as chipping in to pay down local CalSTRS pension obligations. As we get into the details of this budget, you will see a well-intentioned and thoughtful plan as we have strived to create a more equitable and caring system.
The allocations for this year’s budget include meaningful investments in behavioral health, early education, learning recovery, school infrastructure, special education, student enrichment programs, teacher recruitment and retention and universal meals. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the biggest challenges of our time is mental and behavioral health. $4.4 billion will be provided over five years to create new local behavioral health systems for youth ages 25 and younger. The funds will surge access to mental health and substance-use services. The recent allocation on behavioral health is one of the country’s most substantial overhauls of the behavioral health system. It is expected that every student will have improved access to a mental health counselor. It’s one major way the state is addressing the emotional well-being of students.
In previous years, California made major investments in early education and access to childcare. This year’s budget continues that trajectory with goals to establish Universal Transitional Kindergarten by 2024-25. In addition, the state’s subsidized childcare program will be expanded to cover an additional 145,000 children.
The pandemic years have been challenging for families, administration, teachers, students and support staff. In recognition, we have established a learning recovery package. A sum of up to $8 billion has been allocated in the emergency block grants for the 2022-23 school year. The allocated amount will be used to increase the instructional period, reduce the learning gaps, support students experiencing barriers to learning and provide academic services. The grant will enable the students to catch up academically and emotionally in school.
Over $5 billion has been allocated to facilitate new construction and modernization of schools across the state. Given the essential role that early childhood education plays in setting the stage for a lifetime of learning, we’ve set aside $100 million for pre-kinder to kindergarten facilities to create a less fractured and more comprehensive approach to learning and development.
We’ve increased the minimum funding rate for special education by 30% for every pupil. The package creates a diploma course pathway for individuals taking California Alternate Assessment. We’ve also expanded the student enrichment program – setting aside $4 billion to create more inclusionary support to assist families of pupils with a disability.
Student Enrichment Programs
California has further set aside $4 billion to expand after-school and summer programs that support mental and physical health and academic enrichment. This includes a $3 billion block grant for art, music, instrumental materials and multilingual library books, and $700 million in career and college readiness initiatives.
Workforce Recruitment and Retention
An expert workforce of administrative, credentialed and classified staff to work in public TK-12 schools is absolutely essential to the success of the entire system. For the next two years, we’ve allocated up to $2.5 billion for the recruitment, retention and training of additional teachers and aides to staff longer days and smaller class sizes. This package includes residency programs for school counselors, professional development for math and science teachers, grants for educators of dual-language and special needs and computer science.
Last but not least, California is the first state in the country to provide a universal meals package. The universal meal fund caters to all children for a whole year regardless of their household income. Breakfast and lunch – all California grown!
There’s a lot to be proud of with our education budget. Setting new precedents with this whole-systems approach that starts investing in our children at an earlier age, California is more competitive nationally in its TK-12 focus. I am, and will continue to be, in strong support of strengthening the public education system in California because our children deserve it.
As always, please reach out to me with any comments, questions or concerns through my District Office at (818) 558-3043 or Assemblymember.Friedman@Assembly.ca.gov.
Laura Friedman represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.