Last week, Governor Newsom unveiled his 2022-23 budget that marshals historic levels of resources to support the education and care of California children. This budget aims to meet the unprecedented challenges these last two years have brought about. If these investments are implemented in thoughtful and strategic ways, the impact for our state could be tremendous.
This budget is also the result of the relentless advocacy by the education equity community. SEAL is proud to support their budget advocacy with our research, policy analysis, and learnings from well over a decade of working with our partners to bring forth asset-based educational equity in their schools and systems.
I joined several of my colleagues across the state in providing commentary for EdSource’s yearly column about the Governor’s Early Education and K12 budgets. As an organization that works to center the assets and needs of Dual Language/English Learners (DLLs/ELs), we were encouraged to see dedicated funding to support and prioritize our students.
EdSource asked “What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?”
- Early Ed: “Universal TK expansion is the result of many years of advocacy and we’re proud California is making it a reality. High-quality universal TK starts at the classroom level so we applaud the Governor’s proposal to reduce the student-to-adult ratios. The additional funding to the State Preschool Program to provide support, training, and investments to better serve Dual Language Learners (DLLs) – 60% of children age 5 and under in California – sends a message that we value the diversity of our state. That support must prioritize the development of home language if we are to be culturally and linguistically asset-based.”
- K12: “This budget prioritizes the students who need the most support for an equitable recovery. The investments in Early Literacy are encouraging and critical to addressing the unfinished learning caused by the pandemic. Effective literacy coaches and reading specialists who can support literacy and biliteracy instruction in culturally and linguistically affirming ways are an essential component of education equity in California. Additionally, we’re pleased to see funding to create and expand multilingual school and classroom libraries offering culturally and linguistically relevant texts. This sends a strong message that in our state we embrace and elevate multilingualism and biliteracy.”
The priorities included in this year’s education budget are a good start, but more can and should be done. DLL/ELs, children from immigrant families, and children living in low-income households are among those who have been hardest hit by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic. They are also among the students most likely to have missed out on learning due to remote learning challenges and other school and family disruptions. That is why we believe that an equitable recovery for all starts with ensuring Preschool through 12th grade educators receive robust support and professional learning opportunities required to meet the needs of all students, especially DLLs and ELs.
EdSource asked, “What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?”
- Early Ed: “Sixty percent (60%) of children 5 and under in California are Dual Language Learners (DLLs). The future success of our state depends on how well we support these children, yet most early educators have not received the support and infrastructure they need to ensure our DLLs succeed. We need additional and sustained investments – not just one-time funding – so early childhood educators and administrators can build professional learning systems that transform classrooms to better serve all students, especially our DLLs. Furthermore, all investments in professional learning, particularly those proposed for early literacy, should center the cultural and linguistic assets of our children.”
- K12: “Transforming classrooms to be inclusive, asset based, and ignite learning for all students will require long-term investments that build equity-focused professional learning systems. We need investments that address the major barriers that currently exist– lack of substitute teachers, lack of time for teacher collaboration and planning, and inconsistent resources for instructional coaching. Without addressing these, we run the risk of wasting the historic resources available at this time. Furthermore, ongoing investments are needed to center multilingual learners, expand dual language programs, and address the bilingual teacher shortage if we are to realize our vision of a strong, diverse, multilingual California.”
As the budget process moves forward, we look forward to supporting our ed equity advocacy partners to ensure that the needs of DLLs/ELs are centered in the budget decision-making process. Our students and families are counting on all of us to be their voices in Sacramento.