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
Last Updated: 8/7/2023
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.
The final 2023-2024 state budget includes Governor Newsom’s LCFF accountability improvements and requires LEAs to plan actions specific to 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 also designates two to four LEAs as “equity leads” to help other LEAs determine which programs and practices are most effective in meeting the needs of all students and addressing racial disparities.
Together, these changes will place greater emphasis on closing gaps in opportunity and achievement for low-income students of color.
Status: Enacted in Final 2023-2024 State Budget
* 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) – Over the past few years, Assembly Member Shirley Weber and Assembly Member Akilah Weber have authored legislation to provide additional state funding to meet the educational needs of Black students.
In January, Governor Newsom 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.
Unfortunately, only 7 percent of Black students attend schools that would have received extra financial support from the equity multiplier.
The Black in School Coalition proposed an alternative that would have provided extra funding to LEAs according to student performance, a concept borrowed from Assembly Bill 2774 (Weber), a popular bill tabled in 2022. According to estimates from the Black in School Coalition, 90 percent of the extra funding would have gone to LEAs for Black students and 10 percent for Native American students, based on the numbers of students in these groups.
In the final stages of the budget process, the Governor proposed changes to the equity multiplier and the Legislature adopted them. The final equity multiplier provides $300 million to high-need schools identified according to “nonstability” in enrollment (a measure of continuous enrollment) and socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status would be measured by parents’ high school graduation, eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, migrant status, homelessness, foster youth status, or attendance in a juvenile court school.
The percentage of Black students in schools eligible for funding from the final equity multiplier would likely increase from 7 percent in the original version to over 12 percent in the final. Although the final equity multiplier will provide extra funding for more Black students, more can and must be done to center Black students in the state’s funding policies.
Status: Failed, but final equity multiplier is improved
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.
In early July, Senator Skinner accepted amendments requested by teachers unions to permit school employees to refer students to in-school interventions (such as a parent conference or referral to a counselor) for willful defiance. Senator Skinner accepted these amendments to secure the unions’ support. Ed Trust–West continues to support SB 274 because out-of-school suspension and expulsions have a more significant negative effect on students of color.
Status: Pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee
AB 1106 (Soria) The Education Trust–West and Children Now-Sponsored Legislation to Implement PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential – AB 1106 is co-sponsored by Ed Trust–West and Children Now and establishes a one-time grant program that will provide financial support to colleges and universities so they can implement and offer both the PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Credential and give preference to programs that will simultaneously offer a bilingual authorization.
The new credential helps to meet workforce demands by providing an additional pathway into teaching, and students in transitional kindergarten through grade 3 will benefit from a workforce that is trained in child development-based pedagogy.
AB 1106 is pending on the suspense file of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee estimates a cost of $5 million to $10 million. Unfortunately, the Department of Finance opposes AB 1106, arguing the grant program duplicates existing funding programs. Ed Trust–West is evaluating the Department of Finance’s analysis and developing a response in collaboration with co-sponsors.
Status: Pending on Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file
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.
Status: AB 393 will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 14th
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.
The final 2023-2024 state budget includes several big wins related to these bills. The budget includes the following: $29.4 million to waive family fees through September 30, 2023; $56 million to revise the family fee schedule to limit fees to 1% of families’ monthly income and prohibit fee assessment for families with an adjusted monthly income below 75% of State Median Income; forgiveness of pre-pandemic family fee debt; $22 million to continue hold harmless policies for providers until September 30, 2023; and $2.8 billion to provide rate reimbursements to providers over a 2-year period. The rate increase is subject to a ratified agreement with the Child Care Providers Union (CCPU). While we consider these steps big wins towards stabilizing the childcare field, we look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and his staff to implement a new rate structure that aims to pay providers wages that reflect the true cost of care.
Status: Pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (SB 380) and scheduled for hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 14th (AB 596)
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 the Department of Social Services (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.
Status: AB 714 will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 14th
AB 368 (Holden) The Education Trust–West and Hispanas Organized for Political Equality Co-Sponsor Further Improvements on Dual Enrollment – AB 368 is co-sponsored by Ed Trust–West and Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and 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.
Status: AB 368 has passed unanimously at every stage in the legislative process and is pending on the Senate Floor