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  • 05/20/2022 12:13 PM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

    Should kindergarten change in California?

    EARLY LEARNING

    MAY 20, 2022
    KAREN D'SOUZA

    CREDIT: ALISON YIN/EDSOURCE

    Should kindergarten be mandatory in California? Should it always be a full-day program like first grade? These questions are at the heart of two newly introduced bills that could significantly shift the early education landscape in California if they eventually become law. In a state with almost 3 million children under age 5, many advocates laud this proposed expansion of kindergarten as a way to champion early education, but some parents and experts are conflicted about how the kindergarten experience may change.

    State Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, has spearheaded a bill to make kindergarten mandatory while Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, has introduced legislation that would require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten. While both types of proposals have been broached before, if these pieces of legislation pass this time around, they may reimagine the scope of kindergarten in California. 

    “Both these issues have been in need of reform for a long time,” said Scott Moore, head of Kidango, a nonprofit organization that runs many Bay Area child care centers. “Our understanding of just how important the early years are no longer jibes with a policy established when we thought children did not begin to learn until they turned 5.” 

    Making kindergarten mandatory may help close the state’s widening achievement gaps, some advocates say, because some children who skip kindergarten may have a hard time catching up with their peers, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. Senate Bill 70, which would require all students to complete a year in kindergarten before entering first grade, passed the Senate in January before heading to the Assembly.

    “While the vast majority of children already go to kindergarten, why should it be the only grade that is optional?”  said Moore. “It’s time to stop treating kindergarten as the lesser grade, and instead, state policy needs to reflect the reality: It’s a critical part of a child’s success in school and life.”

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    Children from low-income families often start school with fewer academic skills than their more affluent peers, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic. Rubio, who spent 17 years as a public school teacher and principal, learned this firsthand.

    “Kindergarten builds the foundation for future learning,” Rubio said. “I know which students missed out on early education within the first five minutes of being in a classroom — students playing with pencils/highlighters, using them as cars; holding the book upside down; running to the play area, rather than sitting down on the carpet when they come into the classroom. That is why it is so important for our young students to get a head start, to have that building block, so they don’t have to play a harder game of catch-up when they begin the first grade.”

    Kindergarten is not compulsory in California and most other states, although it is required in 19 states, according to the Education Commission of the States, a research group that tracks education policy. Children in California are required to enroll in school at age 6, but only about 5% to 7% of students do not enroll in kindergarten, according to the California Kindergarten Association, in an average year. 

    “Parents, and sometimes even teachers, are shocked when we tell them that kindergarten is not currently mandatory in California,” said Gennie Gorback, president of the California Kindergarten Association. “Most people already see kindergarten as an important step in a child’s educational journey.”

    However, there are also those who question the need for a new government mandate focused on early education. When a similar mandatory kindergarten bill passed the Legislature in 2014, it was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who invoked the importance of parental choice.

     “I would prefer to let parents determine what is best for their children,” he said.

    That’s precisely how Amie Zheng, a Menlo Park mother of two, feels. She kept her son out of preschool during the worst of the pandemic out of caution. A stay-at-home mom, she feels parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children.

    “I think it’s always good to have a choice. Different families have different situations,” Zheng said. “Kids are so different too. Maybe some kids are just not ready to go to school that early. If one decided to keep their kid home a little longer, that’s totally understandable.”

    Mandating full-day kindergarten is also generating myriad reactions from parents and teachers. Currently, school districts may offer full or part-day programs as they see fit, but full-day programs are the norm. Roughly 22% of schools only offer part-day programs, according to 2021-22 data from the California Department of Education.   

    Under Assembly Bill 1973, school districts would be required to offer full-day kindergarten at all high-need schools by 2027-28 and to all students by the 2030-31 school year. Schools would be able to offer part-day kindergarten in addition to the full-day program. A recent department survey found that part-day programs average 3.5 hours per day, while full-day programs average 5.6 hours per day.

    “When it comes to early education, more is more,” said Moore. “Studies have confirmed what many educators and parents intuit: If it works for three hours a day, it works even better for six or more hours a day. And most important, most families need and want full-day.”

    Many experts and advocates agree that a full-day program makes more sense for working families who need school for child care as well as academics. 

    “It is much more reflective of family needs,” said Beth Graue, director of the Center for Research on Early Childhood Education at the University of Wisconsin. “In an era where fewer and fewer parents stay home and children have been to preschool and day care, half-day kindergarten is a burden on working families.”

    However, part-time kindergarten is considered optimal by some families, particularly those who believe a shorter school day is more developmentally appropriate for young children. A Legislative Analyst’s Office report noted that meeting parent and teacher preferences was a key reason that some schools choose the part-time option.

    It should be noted that elementary schools in poorer communities are far more likely to operate full-day programs than schools located in economically better-off neighborhoods, research shows. Since child care is generally quite costly, only privileged families can afford to hire nannies, for instance, or arrange for a stay-at-home parent in a high-cost-of-living state.

    Since nearly three-fourths of the state’s elementary schools already offer full-day kindergarten, according to the Berkeley Early Childhood Think Tank, some experts say that expanding full-day kindergarten won’t significantly impact low-income families. They already have access to it. These experts would rather focus time and energy on programs that help students who are most in need.

    “Some advocates believe that children benefit from spending more and more time in public institutions, from pre-K through kindergarten classrooms, and the state must compel parents to place their kids in classrooms full time,” said Bruce Fuller, professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley. “Separate from the ethics of this position, the evidence partially supports the advocates’ claim, but only when teacher and classroom quality is high. And if the policy aim is to narrow disparities in early learning, why would we expand full-day programs for affluent families, rather than focus on bringing up poor children?” 

    Some parents agree with this approach, suggesting that the state should offer full-day schooling but not force families to participate if they don’t think their kindergartners would benefit from it. 

    “It is one thing to say that a school district must offer a full-day alternative.  It is another to say that every child must attend it,” said Jennifer Bestor, a mother of one from Menlo Park.  “It is interesting that districts serving middle-class and affluent (i.e., educated) communities are more likely to offer half-day programs — because parents feel that they are more developmentally appropriate. Rather than forcing districts to expend money to keep children in a school building whose parents feel they would do better elsewhere for half the day, robust on-site after-school activities for disadvantaged children would be a better investment.”

    Meanwhile, some teachers support making kindergarten mandatory and full-time largely because they believe the standards are now too rigorous. Since they can’t rejigger the standards, at least they can give children a leg up to meet them. 

    “The compression of the kindergarten curriculum in the past 20 years created a critical need to implement these changes,” said Randall Freeman, a retired kindergarten teacher with a doctorate in early childhood education. “The debate over childhood education and the stages of development was politically made moot when the state standards dictated the elementary education curriculum. We screwed this up 20 years ago. These bills will assist kindergarten teachers to mitigate some of the damage caused by the standards implemented.”

    Some teachers believe that small children learn best through play, as much research suggests, but that academics tends to dominate today’s curriculum. 

    “As a result of standards, what I had taught in first grade, I had to teach in kindergarten,” said Freeman. “All research about how young children learn through play was discarded in favor of nothing but academics. Kindergarten students at age 5 were required to be reading by the end of the year.  A year younger and less time in the day has resulted in a proper mess.”

    Many experts agree that play is the secret sauce when trying to make learning fun. That’s also a key reason many support full-day kindergarten. A longer day allows more time for play at school. 

    “When curriculum is developmentally appropriate, full-day is great support for children’s development,” said Graue. “It should provide more time for play, and it is much more reflective of family needs.”

    Quality is the critical factor in whether a child benefits from a full-day program, experts say. 

    “It depends on what kids do in kindergarten,” said Deborah Stipek, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and an early education expert. “If they have to sit still and do worksheets a lot of the time, most 5-year-olds wouldn’t hold up. But if there is time for free play, snacks, rest times or quiet times, stories being read to them, outdoor time … kids do fine. I think full-day kindergarten has benefits, but we have to pay attention to the quality of the program.”


  • 05/20/2022 12:11 PM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

    A comprehensive reading plan is the only way to address our early literacy crisis

    California's failure to teach 3 million low-income students to read is an existential threat

    COMMENTARY

    MAY 19, 2022
    TODD COLLINS
    1 COMMENT

    CREDIT: ALLISON SHELLEY FOR AMERICAN EDUCATION

    An elementary student reads a book to himself during class.

    California has a state-level crisis in teaching reading. It poses an existential threat to our economy, to social justice, and to our democracy itself. Patchwork solutions won’t fix it – we need a comprehensive state-level plan to improve reading results.

    The facts on California’s student reading achievement are grim:

    • Two out of three of low-income Latino 3rd graders are below grade level in reading. For low-income Black students, it is three out of four. These groups make up half of all California students – more than three million children.
    • On the NAEP, the Nation’s Report Card, half of all California low-income 4th graders score “Below Basic,” the lowest level of achievement. Even for higher-income students, less than half are scored “Proficient.” For Black students, scores have not improved for 15 years.
    • As Pedro Noguera and Bruce Fuller noted a few weeks ago, 4th graders in Los Angeles Unified, just 9 or 10 years old, are already two years behind their similarly diverse peers in Miami. Even more shocking, these lagging Los Angeles Unified students achieve well above their peers in districts like San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, and Sacramento.

    All these results are from before two years of Covid disruption, where many of California’s largest districts offered long bouts of remote instruction. The situation is certainly worse today. And the damage is likely permanent: a student who struggles with reading after 3rd grade will almost certainly struggle in school and in life.

    So it is timely that State Superintendent Tony Thurmond created a task force to focus on the early literacy crisis. His stated goal is a good one: that every student be reading at grade level by 3rd grade.

    Unfortunately, his proposed solutions are nowhere near up to the task. They are the typical patchwork of spending and programs – library cards, free e-books, grants for dual language programs – that have been applied, over and over, to a system that fails to teach reading to the students who need our schools the most.

    But what else can we do? While we can continue to pour in funding, is this the best we can expect, especially for low-income students?

    Other states have taken a very different approach – they have created comprehensive state-level reading plans to change their education system. And they’ve gotten results.

    Mississippi is a shining example. Ten years ago, Mississippi was in the bottom quarter of all states. With little to lose, they took bold action, launching a comprehensive state literacy plan, with the help of the Barksdale Reading Institute. This plan is aligned with the research-consensus on the most effective methods to teach reading, which has recently been labeled the “science of reading.” Mississippi’s State Superintendent Carey Wright, described the professional development for elementary teachers that is driving the state’s literacy gains this way, “It’s all around the science of reading. That is really paying off for us.”

    By 2019, Mississippi was in the top five of all states for 4th grade reading for both Black and Latino students. Adjusted for their high-poverty demographics, they rose to second in the nation in reading achievement – ahead of traditional education elites like Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    Other states have taken a similar approach: ColoradoNevadaFlorida, and Arizona all have sustained and comprehensive state early literacy plans, and many more states have taken steps to get there.

    What are the elements of a comprehensive plan? They include:

    Teacher Development for Reading

    • Required training for all K-3 teachers in effective reading instruction from an approved list of research-aligned programs
    • Embedded highly-trained literacy coaches, funded and in some cases provided directly by the state and county offices
    • Alignment of teacher preparation programs with the requirements for evidence-based instruction, as already required by state law

    High Quality Curriculum

    • High-quality evidence-based instructional materials for general (Tier 1) instruction, chosen by districts from an approved state list
    • Similar requirements for (Tiers 2 and 3) reading interventions to also be high quality and evidence-based

    Screening and Assessments

    • Universal K-2 screening for reading challenges, including dyslexia
    • Annual reading assessments for all students K-5, reported to the state and the district community

    Planning and Notification

    • Individualized Reading Improvement Plans for students deemed at risk of falling behind
    • Required notification and engagement of families with children with reading plans

    Above all, we need our state leaders to make sustained reading progress a top state-level priority. Without that visible commitment, any plan will be “just another initiative,” with little sustained impact.

    To succeed, a state initiative needs to focus the attention and change the practices across almost 6,000 elementary schools and 75,000 K-3 classrooms. This mammoth effort requires visible and ongoing commitment from all our leaders: Governor Newsom, State Board of Education President Darling-Hammond, State Superintendent Thurmond, and our leading legislators. If they don’t make reading a top state priority, neither will schools.

    Governor Newson has focused this year on addressing “existential threats” to Californians’ well-being, including Covid, climate change, and housing. The failure to teach California’s three million low-income students to be effective readers is the ultimate existential threat — it undercuts our goals for our economy, social justice, and democracy itself.

    We need a bold and comprehensive state reading plan, with an equally audacious set of goals, to secure the future we all want to see.

    Todd Collins is a Palo Alto Unified school board member and organizer of the California Reading Coaltion.

    The opinions in this commentary are those of the author. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our guidelines and contact us.


  • 05/20/2022 12:08 PM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

    Updated state computer system frustrates districts during student testing period

    Rollout of CALPADS with glitches coincides with Smarter Balanced assessments 

    STATEWIDE LONGITUDINAL DATA SYSTEM

    MAY 19, 2022
    JOHN FENSTERWALD
    1 COMMENT

    CREDIT: ALLISON SHELLEY FOR AMERICAN EDUCATION

    A major upgrade last month in the state’s primary student data collection system, CALPADS, has caused disruptions and data errors for many districts at one of their busiest times of the year. Statewide leaders representing districts told the state that some of the districts considered the system “unusable.”

    The California Department of Education has acknowledged the frustration the rollout has created and says it is working to resolve the problems. But, voicing a common complaint, an administrator at one Southern California district said the severity of the glitches goes beyond time-consuming fixes and inconvenience. Rick Roberts, executive director of educational technology services at Grossmont Union High School District, said the problems are affecting the ability to administer the Smarter Balanced testing to some students and are undermining confidence that CALPADS will process information accurately in coming months.

    “The end of the year (schedule) is at risk,” he said. “This sure looks like a year where data is suspect, at best.”

    CALPADS, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, has been the data workhorse since 2009. It houses much of the student information that the state collects, including attendance, courses taken, test results and accountability data that the federal government and the state require. But it has been laboring under the increasing data load, and the state has been planning a retrofit that it promises will substantially improve system performance and decrease how long it takes for uploaded data to be posted to the system.

    It’s unclear why the department chose mid-April, during the Smarter Balanced testing, a peak period for using CALPADS, for the conversion.  A spokesperson for the department initially said the U.S. Department of Education had been pressuring the state to get the work done, but the state department later clarified that was not the case.

    In an April 22 letter to district, county office of education and charter schools, Jerry Winkler, director of the department’s Educational Data Management Division, wrote that the department “recognized the risk of implementing such significant system changes during the middle of the assessment season” but that it was critical to have the upgrade in place before the end-of-the-year data submission period.

    “The CDE also apologizes for the larger than desired number of defects currently in the system. Some of these defects relate to the complexity of migrating many years’ worth of data into a new data structure,” he wrote.

    Districts started filing complaints after CALPADS was put back in service on April 18, two weeks after it was taken down for the upgrade – a week longer than forecast. After continuing to receive reports from districts, Vernon Billy, CEO of the California School Boards Association, and Edgar Zazueta, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, wrote State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who oversees the department, on May 9 expressing their “deep concern.”

    “Our members report experiencing significant challenges with CALPADS in recent weeks, to the extent that some consider the system as it currently stands unusable,” they wrote.

    Among the issues they cited:

    • Districts could not keep up with changes and updates to special education students’ individualized education programs that dictate accommodations for taking Smarter Balanced tests. This could impact special education students’ ability to receive the correct accommodations when taking the tests.  
    • Students transferring schools or districts were receiving multiple student identification numbers, delaying testing or, in some cases, requiring students to repeat Smarter Balanced tests.
    • Districts reported numerous errors in uploading data to the revised system, requiring lengthy manual fixes.

    “These challenges have reached critical mass far beyond IT departments’ capabilities and are affecting operational functions at the district and school level,” Billy and Zazueta wrote. Small districts without the staff and expertise to address the issues were the most impacted, they said.

    Two days after the letter was sent, top department officials met with the organizations to discuss the issues and held another meeting this week in which they detailed how they were addressing the problems.

    Roberts and David Feliciano, superintendent of La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools, said school districts are worried that the data problems with student ID numbers and special education students could jeopardize their ability to meet the required 95% participation rate on the Smarter Balanced tests, invoking federal penalties. Just a handful or a few dozen students who miss the tests or decline to take them over could push a district under the threshold, they said.

    But waivers from the U.S. Department of Education are unlikely, the department told administrators at this week’s meeting.

    “We remain in dialogue with CDE, and hopefully districts can avoid penalties beyond their control,” Troy Flint, chief information officer for the school boards association, said.

    Flint and Zazueta said this week they appreciated that the department responded quickly to their letter and are dealing with the issues with urgency. But they are still hearing complaints daily from districts.

    “We understand that technology updates can take time and create challenges, but problems remain,” said Flint.

    Roberts and Feliciano are pessimistic.

    The department “hears it from us, but they are not close enough to students to understand what the impact really is,” said Roberts. “We’re told things are getting fixed, but they’re not really fixed.”

    Feliciano, who was a technology administrator before becoming a superintendent, found it “disheartening” that the department didn’t revert to the existing system after finding significant problems with the rollout.

    The department’s approach was “cavalier, brushing aside concerns and issues,” he said.


  • 05/17/2022 11:18 AM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

    Billions more for California schools, colleges under Newsom's revised budget

    SCHOOL FINANCE

    MAY 13, 2022
    JOHN FENSTERWALDKAREN D'SOUZAALI TADAYONMICHAEL BURKE,ANDASHLEY A. SMITH
    6 COMMENTS

    CREDIT:



    AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI

    Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils his 2022-2023 state budget revision during a news conference in Sacramento on May 13, 2022.

    This article was updated on May 13 with additional information and reactions.

    With state revenues continuing to defy projections, schools and community colleges would receive a record $128 billion in funding in 2022-23 under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised state budget, which he presented on Friday. That’s a remarkable $20 billion more than the governor proposed just five months ago and $35 billion, mainly in one-time state funding, above what Legislature passed in the current budget.

    GOING DEEPER

    For an 11-page summary of Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision for TK-12, go here.

    For higher education, Newsom reaffirmed his January budget pledge of a 5% increase to the base funding to the University of California and California State University for the next five years, in exchange for agreements to improve graduation rates and enroll more students and transfer students. (More on higher education: Newsom reaffirms commitment to annual increases for UC, CSU; imposes annual progress reports)

    The TK-12 budget includes a 10% increase in general funding under the Local Control Funding Formula, which school districts and legislative leaders had made their #1 priority. It would increase to $73.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance.

    The surge in funding, producing a total state budget surplus of $97.5 billion, will ease the plight of districts that have been buffeted by chronic absences  and staff shortages this year. Addressing superintendents’ biggest worry, Newsom would provide $3.3 billion to compensate districts for fluctuations in attendance caused by the Delta and Omicron variants. Since school districts and charter schools are funded based on the prior year’s average daily attendance, Newsom’s proposal will further boost next year’s funding and address superintendents’ biggest worry.

    Newsom already had proposed leveling projected post-pandemic declines in enrollment by proposing to let districts to switch to a three-year rolling attendance. He agreed to go further, he said, after hearing from districts and education advocates that the measure wouldn’t go far enough to make up for their enrollment loss in recent years.

    “We’re basically softening that impact,” Newsom said.

    Bob Blattner, a school consultant, commended the governor. “While the details are lacking, the governor listened loud and clear about this year’s attendance collapse,” he said.

    Newsom would also give districts $8 billion in discretionary, one-time funding, distributed on a per-student basis. He encouraged districts to address the continuing effects of the pandemic by supporting students’ mental health and learning challenges and to take unspecified actions to preserve staffing levels. Over the past year, some districts have doubled pay for substitutes, and given staff thousands of dollars in stipends and offered signing bonuses, particularly for STEM and special education teachers.

    Newsom touted his education proposals as education reform, while chastising governors of other states for focusing on arbitrary things like banning books or trying to fight “something that doesn’t exist,” critical race theory.

    “That’s what all their time and attention goes to, that’s not education, period, let alone reform,” Newsom said. “We call it transforming public education, this will take some years but that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple years,” Newsom said. “We’re not just promoting, we’re investing, and you can see that reflected in these new investments.”

    Based on initial reactions, educators and legislative leaders generally agree.

    “There is a lot of overlap between the Senate’s and the governor’s proposals for K-12,” said Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, who chairs the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. “We went higher on base funding and on funding facilities and a little higher on learning loss grants. We believe in our priorities and will work with him and will try to land the plane.”

    Newsom and the Legislature now have a month to negotiate the final version of the budget to meet the June 15 constitutional deadline.

    “Educators welcome the very good news of robust revenues due to a strong economy and a budget proposal that would bring record funding for our public schools and community colleges,” said E. Toby Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association. “Our schools and students are still reeling from the pandemic and the inequities it exposed and this May Revise provides added hope that California’s 6 million students will be closer to having the resources they need to succeed.”

    Other highlights of the TK-12 budget include:

    • Full funding, four years ahead of schedule, for an expanded learning initiative that will lengthen the school day to nine hours with before and after-school activities, and extend the year with six weeks of summer programs for children in TK to sixth grade. An additional $403 million on top of $3.4 billion Newsom had proposed in his January budget will provide $2,500 for every low-income student, English learner and foster youth. Starting in 2023-24, school districts and charter schools must offer them the expanded learning opportunity.
    • $1.5 billion on top of the $3 billion the Legislature approved last year for the California Community  Schools Partnership Program. Next week, the State Board of Education will approve the first round of funding for the program, which enables low-income schools to expand family involvement and to create community partnerships addressing a range of student emotional and academic needs (see story). “We want to continue to build that momentum and those partnerships in the spirit of something that should have happened decades ago: bringing parents and the larger community to bring that whole-person focus to our public education system,” Newsom said
    • An additional $500 million in one-time funding to expand residencies for teachers and school counselors.
    • A cost of living adjustment of 6.56% for the Local Control Funding Formula, the largest COLA since the formula was adopted in 2013. In Newsom’s January budget, it was 5.33%.
    • An additional $612 million on top of $650 million already proposed to raise the reimbursement rate – and improve the quality and diversity of offerings –  for free lunches and breakfasts for all students. “We commend Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of universal school meals and continuing to provide the crucial ongoing funding to combat food insecurity so our kids can learn and thrive in the classroom,” said No Kid Hungry California Director Kathy Saile. 
    • An additional $1.8 billion, on top of the $2.2 billion proposed in January, bringing the total to $4 billion for new school construction and modernization. That money would come from the state’s General Fund.

    On a cautionary note, the overall ongoing funding for Proposition 98, the formula that determines the percentage of state funding that must go to schools and community colleges, is projected to be $110 billion in 2022-23, the same as the current year ­– an indication that the three-year surge in revenue, mainly from capital gains receipts and personal income taxes, may be leveling off.

    Not included in Newsom’s budget is a state subsidy for district contributions for employee pensions through CalSTRS and CalPERS, which face a $2 billion increase in 2022-23. Newsom also doesn’t include increased funding for busing students to school – a priority of both the Senate and the Assembly.

    Reactions from legislative leaders and others were positive, but not unqualified.

    “There were a number of positive aspects to the May revised budget, highlighted by the Covid relief,” said Troy Flint, vice president of the California School Boards Association. “We appreciated the inclusion of a cost of living adjustment above the statutory requirement. At same time, when inflation is over 8% and higher for many items schools purchase, we will continue to push for a higher COLA and also to advocate for pension relief and home to school transportation funding.”

    Expressing a similar reaction, Edgar Zazueta, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, said, “Gov. Newsom continues to demonstrate his commitment to public school students and school funding stability. His revised budget proposal features, bringing average per pupil spending to a record $16,991, is a much-needed boost for schools that are still recovering from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo, said, “I am so grateful that the Administration continues to make historic investments in public education. This proposal helps our school communities address the challenges the pandemic has created for our students, staff and families, as well as systemic inequities that existed before the pandemic.”

    “This budget finally provides the resources needed to reimagine public education in a way that will transform the lives of young people today and in the future,” said Duardo, who is also president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. The May revision adds $101 million in ongoing funding for the state’s county offices, which, the budget summary says, face similar cost pressures of school districts and charter schools.

    Early Education

    The budget earmarks $157 million toward extending the current waiver on family fees for the state’s subsidized childcare. The proposal will help about 40,000 cash-strapped families save up to $595 a month during a time of rampant inflation, officials say.

    “This is huge,” said Gina Fromer, CEO of Children’s Council of San Francisco, a resource and referral agency. “Making state-subsidized child care and preschool more affordable keeps critically needed dollars in parents’ pockets. It allows struggling child care providers to continue caring for children, and it keeps our economy moving forward.”

    “While we applaud the increased investments in a number of areas, including TK-12 and older youth mental health, much more is needed across the kids’ health, infant and toddler mental health, education (cradle to career), child welfare and economic security domains,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an advocacy organization. “The May Revise proposal fails to sufficiently leverage the unprecedented state surplus to significantly improve upon our current 34th state ranking in kids’ well-being.  A prime example where substantially more investment is needed is child care, a sector decimated by the pandemic.”


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