By Assemblymember Brian Maienschein
Ensuring that our children in San Diego are provided with quality education has been a priority of mine throughout my career – both in the Legislature and in City Hall. I am proud to share with you the record education funding we have secured for California’s kids, from preschool through college.
Among the highlights are record and first-time funding for universal transitional kindergarten, mental and behavioral health programs, Middle Class Scholarships, Cal Grants, teacher recruitment, and significantly higher special education funding.
The budget also includes one of my priorities, a cap on out-of-state admissions to University of California campuses, ensuring that California students are prioritized for admission.
The 2021-2022 California State Budget contains the highest level of education funding in California history, with $123.9 billion in funding for TK-12 education programs, and $47.1 billion for all higher education entities. Please read on for highlights of this record-level funding.
Studies have shown that children who attend preschool are better equipped for kindergarten than those who do not. This year’s budget begins the implementation of a Universal Transitional Kindergarten program in California, which will ensure that all 4-year-olds in California have access to quality preschool. This funding will be phased in over the next 5 years, and the program aims to be at full completion by 2026. I am proud to have been a Lead Author on AB 22, the legislation behind this implementation.
The benefits of expanded learning time and summer school programs have a tremendous impact on students’ learning experiences. This budget provides $5 billion over the next several years to districts based on their numbers of high-need students, aiding them in implementing summer school programs and extended learning times through enrichment programs.
Evidence has shown that a rise in depression and anxiety rates has increased in students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This has prompted California to invest $15 million in mental and behavioral health services in schools, providing screening, counseling, and therapy to students who need it. An investment of $4 billion will be made to the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, which will help youth through age 25 cope with mental health challenges.
Additionally, $3 billion has been allocated to staff development and teacher recruitment, which will be targeted to low-income schools that struggle to attract and retain teachers.
The pandemic has made it difficult for many students to complete credits and fulfill high school graduation requirements. To help this, a $547.5 million investment will be provided to fund the A-G Completion Improvement Grant Program, which will grant high schools funds to increase the number of students who graduate completing the A-G series of courses required for admission to the California State University and University of California systems.
Several investments have been made to special education programs in California, most of which are specifically targeted to supporting intervention-focused programs, including $260 million to support early intervention services for preschool-aged children and $450 million to provide learning-recovery support for students with disabilities.
Many students rely on financial aid to complete their higher education, and Cal Grants are just one program that our state offers. This budget removes the age and time-out-of-high-school requirements students used to meet when qualifying for the Cal Grant program. Additionally, beginning in 2022-2023, the Middle Class Scholarship will be restored, offering much-needed financial aid to cover the difference between a student’s total cost of attendance and other sources of aid, including student and family contributions.
Students residing in California have had a more difficult time receiving admissions from in-state schools due to an influx of out-of-state applicants. As someone who has consistently pushed to make California’s students a priority for admission, I am proud that this year’s budget requires the UC system to prioritize California’s students looking to pursue higher education in the state they call home. A boost of funds will require the schools to reduce out-of-state enrollment.
I am proud of the investments we have made this year to improve our public education system in California. While we continue to navigate through the uncertainties of the pandemic, I am confident that this funding will provide an enormous boost to public education and provide our children with enriching and rewarding educational experiences.