Education Expert Reactions Gov. Newsom’s 2022-23 Education Budget

Education Expert Reactions Gov. Newsom’s 2022-23 Education Budget

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

The governor proposes to significantly expand early childhood programs and says this spending can provide very young children “the skills and tools needed to succeed in school.” Perhaps it will, but research from other states wave warning flags. A Vanderbilt University study of Tennessee’s pre-kindergarten program found participants scored lower on tests and had greater discipline problems than students not in the program. The study concluded that the results “offer a cautionary tale about expecting too much from state pre-K programs.” That’s a warning that California should consider seriously.

What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?

Even before the Covid pandemic, 82% of low-income California eighth graders failed to reach proficiency on the national reading exam. So the governor’s proposed $500 million for hire and train literacy coaches and reading specialists to assist students could be promising. However, much depends on how and what these coaches will be teaching. Will it just be more of the same? New York City schools Chancellor David Banks says he’s scrapping the “balanced literacy” reading approach, which many California schools also use, because it has failed. He’s returning to phonic-focused instruction. Lesson: More money without effective strategies won’t improve student learning.

What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?

The pandemic has shown that parents want more learning options for their children. California public schools have lost 160,000 in enrollment, with many of those students going to private schools and homeschooling. While the governor is increasing funding for the public schools, the budget fails to promote the educational choice that so many parents and their children want. Thus, while other states, such as West Virginia, have enacted education-savings-accounts programs that give parents wide-ranging education choice options, Newsom’s budget contains no such choice innovations. No wonder, then, that grassroots groups are looking to put school choice on this year’s ballot.

Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, a public policy research think tank.

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