Below is a Legislative Update from Capitol Advisors Group (CAG).
This week, there were two important developments on the Career Technical Education (CTE) and teacher workforce fronts.
CTEIG and the K12 Strong Workforce Program
It appears Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) is preparing to tackle CTE funding in 2020. The Assembly Education Committee held an informational hearing this week to examine the structure and efficacy of both the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant program (CTEIG) and the K12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP). Committee Chair O’Donnell reinforced his long-time stance that CTE is vital for students. He noted that the state must do more to ensure high quality CTE programs continue to operate to make sure students are ready for college and career.
The hearing renewed the conversation around the separation between CTEIG and SWP. A vocal critic of splitting the funding since the inception SWP, Assembly Member O’Donnell authored AB 1303 last year which would have, among other things, eliminated SWP and rolled its $150 million funding allocation into CTEIG. Budget negotiations ultimately saw that effort fail, but it appears there may be bipartisan support in the Assembly to reopen that discussion. O’Donnell continued to express concern with this funding being split into two separate programs, going so far as to say it appears we have “two entities doing the same thing.” Assembly Member James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), who is not a standing member of the Education Committee but thought this issue critical enough to attend the hearing, echoed those concerns saying “it does beg the question of ‘why do we have these two different programs?’”
Ultimately this debate will be resolved during the budget process, but as of now it appears to have new life.
2019-20 CTEIG Grants
Of particular interest to the committee were recent changes made by the Department of Education (CDE) to the funding allocation formula for CTEIG. The most recent CTEIG allocations were set to be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) at its January 2020 meeting, but after the item was released, several CTEIG recipients noticed their proposed 2019-20 allocations were set to drop by up to 80%. SBE staff pulled the item and it is now scheduled to go back to the Board for approval in March. Speaking on this issue, Lupita Cortez Alcala, Chief Deputy Superintendent at CDE, testified that certain changes were made to the distribution formula in 2018-19, that, while intended to equitably distribute the dollars among recipients, actually “created an anomaly.” That anomaly was only exacerbated by a surge in applicants to the program. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), in 2018-19, requests for CTEIG funding totaled approximately $315 million. For 2019-20, CDE testified that funding requests for CTEIG were roughly $900 million, which is significantly more than the $150 million appropriated for CTEIG. While immediate changes to the allocation formula are unlikely, CDE indicated it would be willing to work with the Legislature to examine the way funds for CTEIG are allocated.
“Teach for America” Bill Fails to Move Forward
AB 221, Authored by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Downey), failed to move forward this year. Introduced in 2019, the bill was considered a “two-year” bill and needed to pass out of the Assembly, its house of origin, by today. In a press release, Assembly Member Garcia said “the truth is that the opposition is funded by billionaires and poor brown and black students don’t have a paid lobbyist or organization walking the halls and making donations.” Whether or not this bill is resurrected in 2020 remains to be seen, as members have until February 21 to introduce bills.
As the first month of the 2020 Legislative Session draws to a close, new bills continue to slowly trickle in, and members continue to stake out policy areas of interest to them. The Legislature cannot take any action on new bills until they have been in print for a minimum of thirty days. Accordingly, substantive bill hearings are still weeks away. We will continue to keep you updated on significant education proposals as they surface.