Statement on AB 2222 (Rubio), Early Literacy: Science of Reading

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2024
Contact: Mariel Matze, [email protected]

Statement on AB 2222 (Rubio), Early Literacy: Science of Reading

If Improved, the Bill Would Offer an Opportunity to Address Literacy Crisis for Marginalized Californian Students

EdTrust-West is encouraged to see AB 2222 accelerate momentum toward evidence-based solutions and believe it could be enhanced to better address the needs of multilingual learners, stay accountable to the people, and provide more flexibility. If the education equity community works together to make several crucial improvements, AB 2222 will represent a powerful opportunity to combat the literacy crisis holding students of color and multilingual learners back. If our recommended amendments were to be accepted, EdTrust-West would support it as a much-needed solution to California’s acute literacy crisis.

It’s no secret that the status quo of reading instruction is ineffective and inequitable. Today in California, a Black or Latinx third grader who learns to read in school is the exception, not the rule; just over 1 in 4 Black students and roughly 1 in 3 Latinx students are meeting grade-level standards in English language arts, including reading, by 3rd grade. The data is also glaring for English learners: in 2022-23, fewer than half of all English Learners were supported to progress toward English proficiency, two key components of which are reading and writing in English. These scores have changed little or not at all in the past five years. Clearly, schools have been struggling with literacy instruction for a long time at the expense of students of color and multilingual learners’ futures and they need more support.

Policymakers owe it to students to follow the data; in this case, the evidence points toward strategies that fall under an inclusive “science of reading” umbrella. Yet, AB 2222 requires several amendments before it is strong enough to fulfill its promise. Multilingual learners must be centered in all components because they bring both unique linguistic gifts and particular English language development needs to school with them. California has already taken several powerful steps toward better supporting multilingual learners, including the English Learner Roadmap, state goal-aligned programs to increase multiliteracy, the English Language Arts / English Language Development Standards and Framework, and the upcoming California Literacy Roadmap, all of which should form the foundation for subsequent literacy policies. Additionally, a transformation at this scale must include oversight that ensures that all components of the bill are implemented with fidelity and accountable to students, especially the most marginalized students, and their communities. Finally, we believe that the goals of this bill can be accomplished with fewer restrictive mandates, especially those that may pose barriers to bringing new teachers into the profession.

The education equity community has a responsibility to students to figure out how to address literacy in California in a unified effort. We believe a coalition of education equity stakeholders must follow Assemblymember Rubio’s lead and work together to build on the current version with meaningful improvements. Without this inclusive process, this bill risks adding to the fractured nature of our siloed approach to instruction. With it, the bill has the potential to lay the foundation for a meaningful transformation in the state’s approach to teaching all kids to read.

This moment is long overdue. Far too many Californians have had their civil right to literacy denied. Now, we have the data, the political opportunity, and the passion needed to meet this crisis with a bold and effective solution—if we work together.

About EdTrust-West

EdTrust-West is an evidence-driven advocacy organization committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in California’s education system. For over two decades, EdTrust-West has worked to improve racial equity in education by engaging diverse communities and increasing political and public will to build an education system where students of color and multilingual learners will thrive. For more information, see or follow us on X.


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.