EdSource asked leaders representing all segments of California’s education system to comment on Gov. Newsom’s 2021-22 budget proposal. This year, we’ve presented their responses in reverse alphabetical order, which seemed apt for these topsy-turvey times.
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What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?
There is a “closing-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-has-escaped” quality to the Covid-related parts of the governor’s education budget. Gov. Newsom closed most schools to in-person instruction last year, but now he says there is an immediate need to reopen schools. Why wasn’t there an immediate need much earlier? Because schools have been closed for so long, children have suffered huge academic learning losses. The governor wants to spend $4.6 billion to address student learning losses. But before the pandemic, less than a third of the state’s eighth graders scored at the proficient level on the 2019 National Assessment for Educational Progress math and reading tests. What confidence is there that California’s largely ineffective public school system will be able to fill-in student learning losses caused by the shutdowns?
What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?
Last year, Governor Newsom and the Legislature short-changed growing charter schools and virtual-learning charter schools of funding to which they should have been entitled. Funding in California has always followed the child, but Newsom and the Legislature only partially funded student growth at many growing charter schools and did not fund any student growth at virtual-learning charter schools. In response, separate lawsuits were filed by high-growth charter schools and by virtual-learning charters. Newsom’s proposed budget makes no attempt to restore the principle of funding following the child, at least where these charter schools are concerned. The governor and the Legislature should stop punishing children and fully fund the charter schools that they choose to attend.
Lance Izumi is the senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute.
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