This week, despite the mixed results of the state budget, the Council celebrated some big victories when funds for the statewide education data system were included as part of the final budget signed by Governor Brown. As we noted several weeks ago, the “May Revise” budget suspended funds and development of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Thanks to our advocacy efforts and suspiciously timed editorials by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times, we were able to prevent the elimination of this critical, federally-funded program.
Our second victory came when the Governor also preserved nearly half a billion dollars in funding for early childhood programs. The Council believes that the most cost-effective way to address the achievement gap in California students is to act early. Backed by hard data, we have found that preschool and other forms of childcare for single or economically-challenged parents have shown the highest return on investment in improving later education performance, plus reduce crime and other societal challenges. The funding change, made possible due to unanticipated tax revenue, reverses what had been called “the most painful cut” the Legislature had to make earlier in the year. It restores preschool and other childcare to 35,490 kids.
Many of our members are not pleased about the cuts to redevelopment and education, including cuts to higher education and strings that were attached to K-12 funding, preventing school districts from making independent staffing decisions. We were also disappointed to lose the teacher companion piece of the CALPADS education data system, CALTIDES, when the Governor used his line-item veto yesterday. But, on all of these issues, the Bay Area Council will continue the good fight.