June 28, 2022

Contact: Sumeet Bal, Communications Director, 917.647.1952

Public Advocates Applauds Leadership Commitment to Education Funding in CA Budget; Highlights Need for Stronger Focus on Improving Direct Equity

San Francisco — With the announcement of the state budget agreement, Public Advocates applauds Governor Newson and our state leadership for prioritizing equity and racial justice, while making strong investments in K12 and Higher Education so that our surplus-rich state can once again lead in better serving the holistic needs of our school communities, and support BIPOC and low-income students disproportionately impacted by historical exclusions and COVID.  

As we continue to outline a post-pandemic recovery that strengthens our education system and reflects the prosperity of our state, we are happy to see an overall increase in K12 school funding through a 6.56% COLA and a $4.32 billion increase to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) base grant. “With such significant increases in school funding, we would have liked to see a more direct investment to strengthen equity by increasing the LCFF supplemental grant weight, which provides districts with additional funding for the highest-need students,” said John Affeldt, Public Advocates Director of Education Equity. “However, we celebrate that the nearly $8 billion learning recovery emergency block grant will be allocated based on the percentage of high-needs students a district serves, per the recommendation of Public Advocates and the LCFF Equity Coalition.” The May Revise and the Legislature had proposed to distribute the block grant on a straight per-pupil basis. “Instead, the distribution will ensure that more acutely impacted districts with concentrations of high-need students receive additional funding to accelerate learning, close achievement gaps, and support student well-being,” Affeldt added. 

Public Advocates was also pleased to see the final budget deal reject a legislative proposal to increase the LCFF low-income definition to 250% of the federal poverty level. Equity Coalition data analyses showed that the proposal would have diluted equity for students in districts with the highest concentrations of poverty. As our leadership continues to think through investments in our K-12 education system, they must do more to center high-need students and districts in the allocation of state funds. Public Advocates encourages the state to do more in-depth research into alternative improvements to the LCFF formula to ensure progressive funding and sustainability.

With billions of dollars in state and federal funds for public schools, it is more important than ever that districts effectively engage and include students, families and community partners in deciding how best to use these funds. The governor’s $100 milion allocation to expand the Community Engagement Initiative promises to deepen local community partnership and support shared decision-making practices. As well, the state’s investment of another $1.1 billion in community schools is critical to establish and expand racially just and relationship-centered community schools across the state that reflect the values and priorities of the school community by centering authentically shared leadership between students, families, community and educators. We and our partners in the California Partnership for the Future of Learning commend the prohibition of using community schools funds on law enforcement and punitive practices. 

“While this is a significant first step towards creating the conditions for racially just and relationship-centered schools, to truly transform our educational system, schools need to end existing investments in law enforcement and cease punitive practices that criminalize students and families,” said Public Advocates Senior Legislative Counsel, Erin Apte. “For real change to take root, community schools must work in authentic partnership with directly-impacted BIPOC students, families, and community partners to envision and invest in restorative, culturally-rooted and sustaining alternatives that promote healing and inclusion.”

Finally, of note on the K12 front, Public Advocates is encouraged by the investments in support of educators across the state, including $250 million for the Teacher Residency Grant Program, which builds on previous funding to develop and maintain a well-prepared and diverse educator workforce.

Higher Education

We commend Governor Newsom and the Legislative Leadership for including the following key investments in Higher Education:

  • Inclusion of the Cal Grant Equity Framework
  • Investments of the UC and CSU Compacts and the CCCC Roadmap 
  • An additional $2 billion to the Higher Education Student Housing Grant  
  • Including $64 million in the Equitable Placement and Completion Block Grant for Community Colleges 
  • Investing in organizations proven to improve outcomes for BIPOC students such as AMEND, UMOJA, Puente and the AAPHI initiatives in the segments.  

“These investments will be critical in making the 70% statewide college attainment goal a reality for BIPOC and low-income students,” said Director of Higher Education, Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton. “These critical initiatives promise to increase college access, improve student success, address persistent racial equity gaps and address non-tuition expenses that significantly impact the affordability and accessibility of a college degree.”


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