What among the governor’s proposals will most advance students’ recovery from the pandemic and why?
The governor’s budget proposal promises to help rejuvenate an early education landscape hit hard by the pandemic by delivering greater equity. In the face of tremendous need, we applaud additional slots, especially in child care deserts, two years of stable preschool enrollment, more transitional kindergarten staff, and stronger support for dual language learners and children with disabilities. Early education providers will see increased reimbursement rates and the sector will benefit from a long-needed child care data system. Altogether, it’s a good start toward rebuilding California early education to better serve children of color and children in low-income households.
What priority should have been in the budget but wasn’t?
California’s youngest learners of color and those impacted by poverty deserve a budget that goes further in putting them at the center. We need subsidized child care slots on a scale that matches the need — which means far more of them. Similarly, while proposed workforce investments are encouraging, what’s truly needed are robust avenues into the profession for future early learning and care providers, paid professional development for current educators and reimbursement rates that reflect the full cost of providing care. Without these additional investments, we risk perpetuating inequities that already start far too early in a child’s life.
Christopher J. Nellum, Ph.D., is the executive director of The Education Trust-West, a research and advocacy organization working for educational justice on behalf of students of color, those from lower-income households, and English learners, from birth through college, in the state of California.