Yesterday we celebrated a major victory for public schools, education equity and access to higher education in California. Over the past several months, our policy team worked closely with the College for All Coalition and California Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) to secure more than $547 million to ensure all California high school students have access to the course requirements to attend one of our state’s outstanding public universities.
The fact that only half of California’s students graduate with the A-G course requirements to attend a UC or CSU is unacceptable. The number of eligible graduates is even lower among disadvantaged students. For example, only 20 percent of foster youth and 24 percent of English learners graduate eligible to attend a UC or CSU school.
Adding to this, the pandemic has further highlighted the disparities in our public education system as disadvantaged students are more likely to be distance learning full time and less likely to have access to learning support programs compared to wealthier white students. We know that many of these students struggled with distance learning due to inadequate access to reliable internet and electronic devices causing them to fall behind and become disengaged in their studies.
Through the budget process, California has taken a huge step toward creating a more equitable public education system earmarking $547.5 million for grants local school districts can now access to address two critical areas:
Expanding access to and the successful completion of the UC/CSU course requirements; and
allowing students the chance to retake A-G courses due to learning losses resulting from the pandemic.
School districts can apply for grants through a funding structure that allocates resources based on need. For example, funds are specifically earmarked for districts with an A-G course completion rate of less than 67 percent, and there is an emphasis on directing resources to students at risk for not achieving the required grade of “C” or better.
Securing these funds and working toward a more equitable public education system is a perfect example of what can be achieved when a diverse coalition of advocates from across the state come together and stand up for what is right. This is a huge win; however, there is more work to be done. We will continue to fight to ensure every student has access to the support and resources they need to achieve their greatest potential.