The 2021–2022 California State Budget provides an historic investment in our K-12 public education system. The budget invests a total of $123.9 billion overall in K-12 education, the highest level of K-12 education funding in California’s history! This budget also presents unprecedented equity-based investments that are historic not just for the amount, but for how they are being targeted to the highest need students, including English learners. As advocates for English learners, we are excited about the following investments and what they mean for our students:
- Increased Equity Focused Investment in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The budget provides a 5% cost-of-living (COLA) increase to the LCFF base grant. Of further note is the additional $1.1 billion to increase the LCFF concentration grant from 50% to 65% of the base grant, supporting school districts with a high proportion (55% or more) of unduplicated students who are English learners, students from low-income families, and foster youth. School districts receiving these concentration grants will need to demonstrate in their LCAP how these funds are used to increase the number of classified and certificated staff in their schools. It is our hope that districts prioritize recruitment and retention of bilingual staff.
- Universal Transitional Kindergarten. The budget includes investments to transition to universal TK over five years. For 2021-22, $300 million will be provided for planning, implementation, and increasing the number of highly qualified early childhood educators. With the goal of increasing access to ALL four year-olds by 2025-26, eligibility will be expanded yearly by two months. To support these additional slots, $600 million will be provided in 2022-23, growing to $2.7 billion in 2025-26. In addition, the Budget includes $130 million for additional access to and increases in reimbursement rates for the California State Preschool Program (CSPP). This gives districts an unprecedented opportunity to expand programs and services for dual language learners—by some estimates, 60 percent of children under age six come from homes where English is not the primary language. This expansion would be supported by the passage of AB 1363 (Rivas), which would establish a definition of dual language learners and a process for their identification. Learn more about AB 1363 here: https://earlyedgecalifornia.org/ab-1363-identifying-supporting-dlls-in-cas-early-learning-system/
- Community Schools Expansion. The Budget includes $3 billion for community schools to expand and support the use of this model to all schools in communities with high levels of poverty. Community schools represent a place-based approach to (1) integrate student supports, (2) expand learning time and opportunities, (3) center family and community engagement, and (4) implement collaborative leadership, practice and decision-making. District can build on the expanded learning time investments and expand on the relationships with families that have been established during the pandemic, especially with our multilingual families. This is also a great opportunity for schools and districts to strengthen and establish partnerships with immigrant-serving organizations to better serve our immigrant and refugee students and their families.
- Educator Preparation, Retention, and Training. The budget provides a total of $2.9 billion to support educator workforce initiatives. To support and retain current teachers, the budget commits $1.5 billion for professional development training resources for teachers, administrators, and other in-person staff (through the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant). In addition, recruitment is prioritized through investments, including $500 million to support 25,000 teacher credential candidates who commit to teach for four years in a high need subject area and school, $350 million to support teacher residencies and grow your own credentialing programs, and $125 million to support over 5,000 classified employees in becoming credentialed teachers. We hope that these investments keep an eye on recruitment and support for bilingual staff. However, we are disappointed that our $5 million request to renew the Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Program (BTPDP) was not included, and we will continue to push for additional support for this type of crucial support for our bilingual teachers and staff.
- Expanded Learning Time. The budget includes $1.8 billion as part of a multi-year plan to implement expanded-day, full year instruction and enrichment for all elementary school students, with funding expected to increase to $5 billion by 2025-26. School districts will receive this funding based on their number of low-income, English learner, and foster youth students, with guaranteed placement for these students. This is an opportunity to re-engage and accelerate learning for English learners, who have missed out on much needed English Language Development (ELD) instruction during the pandemic.
- Additional Notable Investments:
- $547.5 million for the A-G Completion Improvement Grant Program. Funds high schools to increase the number of students completing A-G coursework upon high school graduation, with a special focus on low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. This is an opportunity to focus on secondary English learners and ensure that they are provided with the necessary coursework to be successful after high school graduation.
- $11.6 million for Immigrant Students in Community Colleges. This investment (an increase of $5.8 million) will fund Dreamer Resource Liaisons and student support services for immigrant students, including undocumented students, attending community colleges.
- $10 million for the Dual Language Immersion Grant Program. The California Department of Education will award at least 25 Language Immersion Grants for LEAs to initiate or expand established dual language immersion programs. The grant awards will be up to $380,000 over three years.
- $5 million for California Newcomer Education and Well-Being (CalNew). A highly successful and impactful program run by the Department of Social Services Immigrant Integration Branch that targets additional dollars to school districts serving large numbers of refugee and asylee students. In recent years, the DSS team has also expanded their work to support districts and service providers for the increasing number of unaccompanied minors coming to California. We hope to see continued investments in this important and often overlooked group of students.
- $5 million for Ethnic Studies Support. Will fund professional learning and instructional materials for LEAs on a regional basis, assisting school districts in providing all students, including English learners, with appropriate and relevant historical information.
In addition, there are key language provisions in the budget that have important implications for English learner access and equity. These include:
- Independent Study Requirements. Requires school districts to provide an independent study option for students and adds additional requirements to the existing programs. These new requirements include the provision of opportunities for synchronous instruction and live interaction; access to technology, connectivity, and a rigorous curriculum; re-engagement strategies for students not participating in instruction; and tracking of student learning. However, we remain concerned that these requirements are not specific enough and would allow some of the similar equity and access issues that disproportionately impacted English learners to persist.
- Flexibility to Grant the State Seal of Biliteracy. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction will have flexibility to grant the State Seal of Biliteracy to students who are on track to graduate in the 2021-22 school year, but are unable to take the required assessments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we celebrate these historic investments, we know that our work is far from over. With the expanded and new investments, we will continue to advocate to ensure that they effectively serve the students that they are intended for. Meanwhile, we will continue to be involved in conversations about how to best implement new requirements and programs that can have a direct impact on the education of English learners.
- 2021–2022 California State Budget. Enacted June 28, 2021.
- AB 130- Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill, Ch. 44, Statutes of 2021. Signed by Governor Newsom on June 28, 2021.
- AB 128- Budget Act of 2021, Ch. 21, Statutes of 2021. Signed by Governor Newsom on June 28, 2021.
- SB 129- Budget Act of 2021, Ch. 69, Statutes of 2021. Signed by Governor Newsom on June 28, 2021.