“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul
than the way in which it treats its children.”
On June 27, Governor Gavin Newsom signed his state budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 and educators couldn’t be happier.
The new budget contains the largest-ever investment, not only in K-12 education, but in early childhood education, childcare, and college loan assistance to help fill a statewide teacher shortage. This funding, according to EdSource (edsource.org), will make up 45 percent of the state’s general fund. This is going to have a noticeable impact for California’s families. Here are some of the highlights according to the official announcement from the Governor’s office:
IMPROVEMENTS FOR PARENTS
The Parents Agenda addresses specific cost-of-living issues faced by parents of young children. It includes the expansion of paid family leave from six to eight weeks for each parent or caretaker of a newborn child. This potentially allows a child to benefit from as much as four months of paid family leave, bringing California closer to the goal of six months of paid family leave, and is especially helpful to lower-wage workers who pay into the system and will be able to take the benefits.
The new budget puts California on the path to provide universal preschool access for all four-year olds and full-day kindergarten (some districts still do not offer this); funding for childcare workers; will expand state-subsidized facilities and increase slots.
Resources will also be provided for low-income parents including home-visiting services, black infant health programs, developmental and trauma screenings, temporary cash assistance to families with children to meet basic needs, child savings accounts to support future higher education expenses, and a sales tax exemption on diapers and menstrual products.
The budget will establish or increase Cal Grant Access Awards for student parents attending the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), or California Community Colleges (CCC). This will help students complete their education and by doing so, increase their future earning potential and provide additional support to their children.
IMPROVEMENTS IN EDUCATION
Governor Newsom’s new budget makes a huge investment in education for all Californians with the path towards universal preschool, recruiting and retaining qualified educators.
Addressing the needs of K-14 education, spending will include approximately $5,000 more per K-12 pupil than eight years ago. This long-needed investment in our students and in the future of California is a great beginning to a collaboration between school districts and the state and will hopefully lead to a more reliable funding of education. Also included is the investment of $90 million to recruit and retain qualified educators to teach in high-need fields such as special education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), bilingual education, and will address California’s teacher shortage.
Additionally, $43.8 million will be invested in providing training and resources for classroom teachers and paraprofessionals to build capacity around key state priorities including California standards, teaching excellence, student success, and accountability.
In response to the concerns from school districts about rising expenses for students with disabilities, a 19.3 percent increase in funding for special education is included in this budget.
INCREASES IN HIGHER EDUCATION
The new budget includes increased funding for higher education including the facilitation of tuition freezes and increased enrollment slots at the UC and CSU systems for the upcoming school year. First time, full-time Community College students will also be provided two years of free tuition and $41.8 million will be provided to increase the number of Cal Grant scholarships from 25,750 to 41,000 for income-eligible Californians.
To assist student parents with dependent children in completing their degrees, qualifying new or renewal Cal Grant A recipients will receive an access award of up to $6,000; Cal Grant B recipients will receive an increase in their award from $1,648 to $6,000; and Cal Grant C recipients will receive a book and supply award increase from $1,094 to $4,000.
In what Governor Newsom calls a “cradle-to-career education strategy,” $50 million is dedicated to child savings accounts (CSAs) that aid families in managing future higher education expenses. According to an article by Felicia Mello in the East Bay Times (January 28, 2019), fans of the CSAs say they help children envision themselves attending college from a young age.
These changes and additions to funding will help provide a more stable foundation for parents and young infants and children. It is not only an investment in families, children and the future of the state, it also highlights Governor Newsom’s priority on education. We all will benefit from aspects of this budget focus, whether we are parents of young children, educators receiving additional support, students aspiring to attend college, higher education students accessing their education, or citizens of California, who will surely benefit from an educated population of future employers, employees, and community leaders.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which
you can use to change the world”. –Nelson Mandela