EDUCATION & CHILDCARE
These objectives are subject to ongoing input from, and ratification by, our members. Finalized objectives will be substantiated by accompanying policy proposals in our upcoming Policy Agenda.
Increase access to Early Head Start and increase income assistance for, and access to, full-day 0-3 infant care
Establish a legal right of all kids in the state to a quality K-12 education
Support efforts of the State Dept. of Labor and others to identify occupations amenable to apprenticeships, upskilling and reskilling including for the recently incarcerated and hard to employ populations
Invest in teacher success while strengthening accountability to parents, students and taxpayers
Expand the state public school system to include full-day preschool, starting at age 3
Shorten Higher Education completion time, improve graduation rates, close equity gaps and prepare students for the workforce
A good education is essential to meaningful, recognized participation in today’s society and economy, and our elected representatives have a responsibility to ensure every Californian is provided this critical key to accessing their best future.
A short time ago education was commonly thought to start in earnest with kindergarten. Research now shows critical brain and emotional growth starts before birth.1 The first five years of children’s lives, including the social ecosystems of which they are a part, are crucial to their —and our state’s—success. Experts also used to think formal education ended in 8th grade, then 12th, then after college with graduate school (for some). Today we recognize that access to education must be lifelong. We must establish a system that welcomes learners at any age -- to retrain when a sector vanishes or disability strikes, when more income is needed or desired, or when one retires from a lifelong field but has more to give (and much longer to live) or perhaps still has bills to pay.
Furthermore, the goal isn’t simply filling seats; it’s learning, and then translating that learning into a meaningful occupation.2 For many kids in California, this means the inclusion of student-centered, integrated career pathways; effective academic and career counseling and navigation assistance; social and emotional support; and mental health support. For policy makers and schools it means recognizing the impact of decades of deeply ingrained racial and economic segregation throughout the state, as well as the geographic challenges facing California’s rural communities and the importance of designing opportunity today that truly give every child their best chance to flourish.3
Delivering a good education also requires investing in child caregivers and teachers, and designing for true accountability. Child care provider compensation is so low that these workers are often collecting public benefits when they aren’t caring for our kids. K – 12 and ‘Higher Ed’ teacher pay in California is roughly in-line with pay scales elsewhere, but California’s cost of living is not. If Californians agree that effective teaching is one of the most important investments taxpayers make in our shared future, then teachers should have high quality, career-long training and competitive compensation; parents and students should have regular independent verification of school performance; and taxpayers should know their tax dollars are being spent as promised, managed responsibly, and delivering the impact for which they were authorized.
Of course this all must be affordable for parents initially, and later students. For young adults financing higher education, the 2019-20 budget boosted by about 15,000 the number of competitive Cal Grants available to incoming students. This is an improvement, but of the 654,000 qualified students who applied for the state scholarships last year only 240,600 received them. And in our high-cost state, non-tuition expenses such as rent, food, and transport are quickly outpacing tuition as the leading (and sometimes prohibitive) expense.
Finally, while kids are in childcare or at school, their parents often need to be at work. The economic cost of inadequate childcare on California's working parents, employers, and taxpayers is calculated to be an annual $9 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.4 At the same time, economies are known to grow substantially when they invest in the productive potential of their population.5 Policy makers should be rethinking the public sector’s role in early childhood care and education;6 promoting relationships and dialogue among academic institutions and the private sector; the training, support, and pay scales for their educators and caregivers;7 and both equity of opportunity for all kids and accountability to taxpayers system-wide.8
These links are included because the Collaborative considers some data or analysis in their body to be relevant, irrespective of the overall perspective or tone of the writing. They are far from exhaustive, and represent only a small fraction of the data and perspectives that shape our objectives.