Every spring, California legislators offer new ideas or proposed changes to programs and policies that touch the lives of California’s roughly 10 million students, from preschool to K-12 to higher education. Many of these ideas stand to improve opportunity and access for students of color, students from lower-income communities, and English learners – if decision-makers in Sacramento are encouraged to make them a reality.
That’s why each year, The Education Trust–West analyzes proposals for the state budget and new legislation and identifies the top eight greatest opportunities to advance educational equity and justice.
The Equity 8 for 2023
Local Control Funding Formula Accountability Improvements (Governor Newsom) (Omnibus K-12 Budget Trailer Bill) – Every year, local educational agencies* (LEAs) are required to complete accountability plans (known as Local Control Accountability Plans or LCAPs) and adopt goals for meeting state priorities through their actions and expenditures. However, state law does not require LEAs to address disparities in student achievement.
Governor Newsom proposes requiring LEAs to set specific goals in their LCAPs for improved performance for student groups and schools receiving the lowest performance level on one or more indicators on the California School Dashboard. LEAs must also specify the actions and funding that they will use to achieve those goals.
The budget will also designate two to four LEAs as “equity leads” to help other LEAs analyze which programs and practices are most effective in meeting the needs of all students and addressing racial disparities.
Together, all of these changes will place greater emphasis on closing gaps in opportunity and achievement for low-income students of color.
* Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are governmental entities responsible for operating public K-12 schools. They are most typically school districts, but can also include county offices of education, charter schools or charter school networks, or alternative schools.
Alternative Equity Multiplier (Black In School Coalition) – In an effort to improve support for Black student achievement, Governor Newsom has proposed an equity multiplier that would provide $300 million in additional funding to elementary and middle schools where 90 percent of the students are eligible for free meals and high schools where 85 percent of students are eligible. This funding would be added to money already provided through the Local Control Funding Formula. The funds would be used for services at these high-poverty school sites.
Unfortunately, only seven percent of Black students attend schools that would receive extra financial support from the equity multiplier, so we would only be able to support the governor’s proposed equity multiplier if it were amended to reach a far greater number of Black students.
The Black in School Coalition has proposed an alternative that will instead provide extra funding to LEAs according to student performance, a concept borrowed from Assembly Bill 2774 (Weber), a popular bill tabled in 2022. This proposal will provide extra money to LEAs based on the number of students who belong to the student groups most in need of support that do not already receive it. According to estimates from the Black in School Coalition, 90 percent of the extra funding would go to LEAs for Black students and 10 percent for Native American students, based on the numbers of students in these groups. The Black in School Coalition estimates that if their alternative were to be adopted, at least 73 percent of California’s Black students attend a school that would receive extra funding, in comparison with the equity multiplier’s 7 percent.
If approved, the Black in School Coalition’s alternative equity multiplier will enable LEAs to improve learning opportunities for Black students and help more to graduate ready for college and career.
SB 274 (Skinner) Eliminates Willful Defiance in TK-12 Suspension and Expulsion – In transitional kindergarten (TK) through grade 12 education, grounds for willful defiance suspensions are ambiguous and often left to subjective determinations, opening the door to racial bias. Suspensions for willful defiance commonly occur without consideration of the root causes behind the student’s behavior and have been applied disproportionately to students of color.
Existing law prohibits willful defiance suspensions for grades TK through 5, and grades 6 to 8 until 2025. High schoolers are not protected from these types of suspensions and expulsions at all. SB 274 would permanently prohibit any willful defiance suspensions or expulsions for any student in TK-12 schools. SB 274 also eliminates suspension and expulsion for truancy, tardiness, and absenteeism.
SB 274 will reform school discipline so that fewer students of color lose learning time, are removed from their schools altogether, or fed into the school-to-prison pipeline.
AB 1106 (Soria) The Education Trust–West and Children Now-Sponsored Legislation to Implement PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential – AB 1106 establishes a one-time grant program that will provide financial support to colleges and universities so they can offer both the PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Credential and a bilingual authorization.
The new credential helps to meet workforce demands by providing an additional pathway into teaching, and students in transitional kindergarten through 3rd grade will benefit from a workforce that is trained in child development-based pedagogy.
AB 393 (L. Rivas) Identification of Dual Language Learners in Childcare – AB 393 will require the Department of Social Services (DSS) to develop procedures for identifying dual language learners in state childcare programs, including migrant care. The bill will also require the collection and reporting of data on home language, preferred language, race/ethnicity, language characteristics of the program, and language composition of program staff.
AB 393 will make it possible to plan and implement services to meet the needs of dual language learners in state childcare programs.
AB 596 (Reyes) and SB 380 (Limon) Childcare and Preschool Reimbursement Rate Reform – Historically, the state has calculated the amount of funds to reimburse providers of subsidized childcare using two types of provider rates: the Regional Market Rate (RMR) and the Standard Reimbursement Rate (SRR). The RMR varies based on the county in which the child is served and is based on regional market surveys of a sample of licensed childcare providers. The SRR is the same rate for providers across the state. The differences in rates result in pay disparities between regions and care settings as well as unstable income for providers, most of whom are women of color.
AB 596 and SB 380 will help both early learning and childcare providers and families by transitioning providers to a single cost-based reimbursement rate, suspending family fees until an equitable sliding scale for family fees is established, and funding providers according to enrollment rather than attendance. These bills will ensure that providers are being paid for the true cost of care.
AB 714 (McCarty) Guidance on Newcomers – In the 2020-21 school year, California enrolled nearly 152,000 newcomer students, those who have attended schools in the U.S. for less than three years. Many schools throughout the state struggle to offer the specialized instruction and support these students need to be successful in school.
AB 714 will require the California Department of Education (CDE) and DSS to develop and offer instructional guidance to help LEAs support newcomer students. The bill also requires the CDE to post newcomer enrollment and performance data on its website, while the Instructional Quality Commission will be required to consider the development of curriculum and resources to help teachers support their newcomer students when revising the curriculum framework in English Language Arts/English Language Development.
AB 714 will ensure that researchers, policymakers, and educators all have data and guidance to help newcomer students get the instruction and support they need to succeed.
AB 368 (Holden) The Education Trust–West Sponsors Further Improvements on Dual Enrollment – AB 368 builds on important recent state investments in dual enrollment and further refines College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) agreements. These agreements between a community college district and an LEA establish dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college-level coursework either at their high school or local community college. Dual enrollment programs are proven to improve students’ chances of going to and succeeding in college.
AB 368 defines the target population for dual enrollment as groups “underrepresented in higher education,” naming specific groups that have historically been marginalized by the education system such as low-income students, student parents, undocumented students, students with disabilities, and others. The bill would also require community college districts participating in a CCAP agreement to give CCAP high school students priority in course registration. The bill will also exempt all students participating in dual enrollment through CCAP agreements from paying fees.