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Gov. Brown agrees to add money for child care, preschool in budget

06.10.2016 | EdSource | John Fensterwald

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Advocates for expanding early childhood education and for better preparing low-income high school students for state universities wrested substantial money in the compromise state budget, announced Thursday, that legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown have negotiated. The Legislature will vote next week on the $122 billion plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Although less than they wanted, members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus got a down payment on a half-billion dollar increase for child care and state-funded preschools over the next four years. By 2019-20, that will include ramping up to an additional 8,877 slots for full-day state preschool and increases in reimbursement rates for child-care providers to reflect increases in the state minimum wage. The first 2,969 preschool slots will open up in March 2017.

“This is going to be the biggest appropriation in a decade,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens,vice chairwoman of the Women’s Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times, referring to the increased costs in future years.  “We’re trying to be progressive and think about the future.”

High schools serving predominately low-income students will be eligible for $200 million in grants to support increasing the number of Advanced Placement courses and “A-G courses,” the sequence of 15 college preparation courses that UC and CSU require for admission. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, formulated the idea in Senate Bill 1050 and had pressed the Brown administration to fund it.

Overall education spending in the 2016-17 General Fund budget largely follows the budget that Brown delivered in May. That includes $71.9 billion for Proposition 98, the primary source of money for pre-K to K-12 and community colleges. Of that, $55.8 billion would go to the Local Control Funding Formula, an increase of $2.9 billion from the current year. (Go here for the budget agreement.)

Most of the haggling over the past month was over several hundred million dollars in one-time money at the margins. There were partial winners and losers along with the winners.

After-school programs: As with child-care providers, operators of after-school programs sought $73 million for increased expenses they’ll face due to a higher state minimum wage. Without higher reimbursement rates, proponents argued in an EdSource commentary, some programs may be forced to close. However, the compromise included no increase.

“The Governor and other leaders have failed to see that nothing else we do in our education system to level the playing field for our most underserved students will be effective, if we don’t provide learning opportunities during the hours after school and in the summer,” Jennifer Peck, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Children & Youth, wrote in an email.

Teacher shortage: Faced with an imminent teacher shortage in high-cost-of-living areas like the Bay Area and for special education, math, science and bilingual teachers, legislators and Brown had proposed a variety of initiatives. The compromise included several but no funding for two of the most expensive. Those are reviving a loan-forgiveness program for teachers willing to work in underserved areas, called APLE (Assumption Program of Loans for Educators) and establishing a teacher residency program, in which the state would split the cost of mentoring and paying teacher candidates working under the wing of experienced teachers. Linda Darling-Hammond, an emeritus professor at Stanford University who chairs the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, called residencies an effective long-term solution to teacher preparation and retention in an EdSource commentary.

Programs receiving funding were:

  • $20 million to re-establish a grant program enabling classified employees to pursue their teaching credential;
  • $10 million to provide grants to colleges and universities to develop four-year integrated teacher programs enabling undergraduates to receive both a teaching credential and a bachelor’s degree;
  • $5 million to re-create the California Center on Teaching Careers, or CalTeach, a marketing and information effort to recruit individuals into the teaching profession.

The budget compromise also included $18 million in grants for dropout and truancy prevention programs and $24 million for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a new state agency created by the Local Control Funding Formula law to oversee the state’s new school accountability system. The agency will use the money to conduct statewide training on school accountability metrics that the State Board of Education will approve in September and a pilot program to work with districts that have identified areas needing improvement.

EdSource Executive Director Louis Freedberg contributed to this report.

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