California Currents

Gov. Newsom proposes nearly $1 billion to tackle teacher preparation, staff shortages

Gov. Gavin Newsom gestures toward a chart showing the growth of the state's rainy day fund as he discusses his proposed 2020-2021 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento on Jan. 10. (Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP, via EdSource)

Anticipating nearly $4 billion more in revenue for K-12 schools and community colleges in the next state budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed to continue massive investments for teacher recruitment and training and for transforming special education.

He also proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to improve performance in the lowest-performing districts and to expand community schools, which address the physical and mental health of students through partnerships with community services.

Total funding for K-12 and community colleges through Proposition 98, the formula that determines the minimum state education funding, would increase $496 per student to $12,600 in 2020-21. That record amount — 80 percent more per student than at the low point following the Great Recession nine years ago — shows significant improvement, he said. Using a football metaphor, he said there is more work to be done. “None of us are spiking the ball,” he said.

 

Newsom devoted the first 45 minutes of his press conference — a daunting three-hour tour de force in budget details — to early-through-higher education, signaling that education will remain a priority of his administration.


He said he will establish a new Department of Early Childhood Development to help implement the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care. He said he remains committed to providing state-subsidized preschool for all low-income 4-year-olds by the end of next year, and, if the Legislature agrees, will add 10,000 more full-time preschool slots this year.

His budget would also add more funding for building and renovating more preschool classrooms on school sites. He also proposes expanding job protections for employees at small businesses, so they can take paid family leave to care for a newborn or a sick family member.

Newsom proposes giving $83.2 million to community colleges to create and develop apprenticeship programs.

The budget would fund $17 million toward a project to put students in the Fresno region on a path through college and into careers such as teaching, nursing and accounting. The program, called the Fresno Integrated K-16 Education Collaborative, is part of a larger $50 million investment to improve economic mobility in the Fresno area and could be a model for other regions, he said.

Other proposed community college investments include $15 million to improve faculty diversity and $11.4 million to establish and support food pantries on campuses.

Newsom proposed 5 percent increases each for the basic operating budgets for the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University. That would amount to $217.7 million more than last year for UC and $199 million more for CSU. Those were less than half of what the two universities were seeking, but Newsom noted that the increases would total more than 12 percent over two years if his plan is approved. He said that was “not too bad” and would be the largest amount over “any 24 months” in recent memory.

Number 1 priority: attention to the teacher workforce

With fewer college students pursuing teaching careers following post-recession teacher layoffs in most regions of the state, severe shortages have left districts — particularly in rural and low-income areas — without fully credentialed teachers in special education, bilingual education and the STEM fields of math and science. Former Gov. Jerry Brown initiated investments in teacher residency programs, in which veteran teachers take new teachers under their wing for at least a year, and a program to pay hourly classified workers, such as teachers’ aides, to earn a college degree and teaching credential.

Newsom would double down on those efforts and build on an investment last year to pay a $20,000 stipend to cover college and a credential for students willing to teach in a high-demand subject in high-needs schools. The $100 million investment would fund 5,000 new teachers.

Newsom singled out Linda Darling-Hammond, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University whom he appointed president of the State Board of Education last year, for her guidance on teacher development and district improvement. Brown also had turned to her for advice.

High-achieving Massachusetts and New Jersey, which has shown marked academic improvement, implemented what Newsom called “a steady focus on the basics. None more important than investing in our teachers and that’s why this year we are addressing the teacher issue in a way we haven’t in the past.”

In a statement on Jan. 10, Darling-Hammond was effusive in return.

“I applaud Governor Newsom’s K-12 education budget proposal and am especially excited to see expanded investments in the quality of classroom teaching, particularly in the critical areas of math, science, special education and bilingual education,” she said. “Our state cannot close achievement gaps in student learning without first closing quality gaps in classroom instruction caused by California’s teacher shortage. Some students spend the year in classrooms staffed by highly trained, highly prepared teachers. But many others do not.”

John Affeldt, managing attorney for the San Francisco-based nonprofit law firm Public Advocates, also praised the workforce proposal. “Since we filed the Williams v. California case challenging, among other things, the state’s unconscionable number of underprepared teachers in high need schools, we have waited 20 years to see a governor make such a serious and robust investment in teacher quality for our neediest students,” he said in a statement.

Newsom said a goal of the teacher recruitment efforts will be a diverse workforce, since research shows that having “a teacher that looks like you”  is “incredibly important as it relates to particularly African American achievement.”

Elisha Smith Arrillaga, executive director of the Education Trust-West, a student advocacy nonprofit, commended Newsom for making it “clear that a strong teacher workforce is crucial for improving racial disparities in our schools.” But she added, the challenge is also teacher retention. “We hope that these initial investments are just the beginning of a much larger conversation about retaining teachers of color,” which is important for all students.

Spending breakdown

Newsom is proposing to spend the $3.8 billion in increased K-12 funding as follows:

  • $1.2 billion to increase ongoing funding for the Local Control Funding Formula, the main source of school spending. That’s only a 2 percent increase — less than in past years when former Gov. Brown made the funding formula his top priority. However, the second year of pension relief of about $400 million and increased funding for special education (see below) will free up additional money for districts to spend as they choose;
  • $900 million in staff development including:
    • $350 million in competitive grants to districts for teacher training in mental health intervention, special education practices, English learner supports, anti-bullying efforts and STEM development;
    • $193 million in grants to address staff shortages in high-need subjects;
    • $175 million for teacher residencies;
    • $100 million for college stipends for prospective teachers who commit to teaching for 4 years in high-need subjects;
    • $64 million in stipends for classified workers to become teachers;
    • $18 million to bolster staffing and work of the California Commission on Educational Excellence;
  • $900 million in increased funding for special education, including
    • $645 million toward a 3-year shift in the base funding formula;
    • $255 million to identify disabilities of children ages 3 to 5;
    • $4 million for dyslexia research, training and a statewide conference;
    • $1 million for two studies, into the current governing structure of regional agencies called SELPAs and into the delivery of special ed services;
  • $300 million to improve the lowest-performing districts. This may involve the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a small school improvement agency whose budget would see an $18 million increase;
  • $300 million to expand community schools, including money to increase parent engagement and offer after-school programs as well has health services;
  • $70 million in additional state funding for the federal meals program, including a farm-to-table fresh fruit and vegetables program to make student meals more nutritious — an area of particular interest to the first lady, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Newsom’s budget includes funding for several programs designed to help homeless children, whose numbers have been steadily increasing as California’s housing crisis worsens. Last year, California schools had 207,677 homeless students, a 23 percent jump from four years ago.

The budget sets aside $750 million in housing subsidies — new units as well as rental assistance — for families who are at risk of losing their homes or are already homeless. It also includes an expansion to Medi-Cal that would connect low-income families with housing services. The funding follows $1 billion in homeless services from the 2019 budget, which included several programs that help families find and keep stable housing.

* EdSource reporters Zaidee Stavely, Michael Burke,  Larry Gordon and Carolyn Jones contributed to this article.

Story originally published by EdSource.